Category Archives: Schools

Time-lapse video: A Berkeley school gets new classrooms

The new portables are on Washington’s annex campus on McKinley St., across from the school’s main campus
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Over the summer, Washington Elementary School in Berkeley got a new set of portable classrooms. The new classrooms replaced a group of portables which dated back to the 1960s, even though they were installed originally as a temporary measure. The new ones come from Berkeley High School. They were removed from there in order to complete the high school’s $46 million new construction project.

The decision to replace very old portables with seven less-old portables on Washington’s annex campus on McKinley St., across from the school’s main campus, was not popular with many Washington parents who say an underlying problem not being addressed by the district is overcrowding at the elementary school. … Continue reading »

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Students target sexual harassment at Berkeley High School

The students will encourage their classmates to wear the shirts and pins on Dec. 1. Photo: Facebook
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Earlier this year, some male students at Berkeley High School created “slut accounts” on Instagram. The accounts included photos of female students with misogynistic, sexual captions. A number of the instigators were suspended as a result. However, a group of students who have launched an anti-sexual harassment campaign on campus say the punishment doesn’t help curb the culture that set the stage for the incident in the first place.

Similarly, the student campaigners, mostly juniors and seniors, say the policy and preventive actions finally being taken in the wake of sexual assaults on college campuses nationwide are happening too late in students’ lives.

The group has launched “BHS Stop Harassing” with a goal to educate its peers about inappropriate behavior and where they can seek help — and to eventually improve what it perceives to be the vastly inadequate sexual harassment policy and preventive education at Berkeley High. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley School Board primer: Soda tax panel, new personnel commissioner, recess restriction

The Berkeley School Board, at its August meeting. Photo: Mark Coplan/BUSD
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The Berkeley schools Board of Education meets tonight (Wednesday, Nov. 19) for a closed session at 6 p.m., followed by its regular meeting at 7:30 p.m.  Follow along via the Nov. 19 agenda packet.

The board will vote on a recess restriction policy, appoint a new member of the BUSD Personnel Commission, and nominate candidates for the city’s new advisory panel on spending the Measure D “soda tax.”

Closed session

The meeting begins at 6 p.m. with a closed session to discuss anticipated litigation, a settlement agreement with an employee, collective bargaining and a student expulsion. Also, the board will meet with a Berkeley police representative and the Dean of Discipline at Berkeley High School to talk about campus security. Public comment, up to 15 minutes, will be taken prior to the closed session. … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Recess restriction is discriminatory and counterproductive

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This Wednesday, the Berkeley Unified School Board will vote on a policy that would allow teachers to restrict students’ access to recess. As a parent of a child at Willard, I oppose the recess restriction policy as discriminatory and counterproductive.

K-5 students have two short recess periods, fifteen minutes in the morning and twenty minutes after lunch. Middle-school students have a combined lunch-recess period of 30 minutes. The policy would allow teachers to take away up to ten minutes of … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Sexual harassment at Berkeley High must stop

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On the evening of Nov. 12 we sent an invitation to each member of the Berkeley School Board and to members of the leadership team of the Superintendent’s office at the Berkeley Unified School District, asking them to support a fundraising initiative for a student-led organization called #BHSstopharassing.

The students of #BHSstopharassing are planning an educational “teach-in” event for later this month to build community awareness about sexual harassment at Berkeley High School and about students’ rights under … Continue reading »

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School board reviews recess restriction as punishment

Photo: Nick Kenrick
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Two years ago, Berkeley parent Sinead O’Sullivan got tired of hearing from her kindergartener that he was missing recess for misbehaving. She knew he wasn’t a saint, but she didn’t think taking exercise away was going to improve his behavior.

“It’s not effective,” O’Sullivan said. “ The kids who get (recess taken away) are the high-energy kids, who can’t control their bodies. It’s the last punishment they need.”

“Many kids who get recess taken away have behavioral challenges. I say, deal with a behavior problem the way you deal with a reading problem,” she continued. O’Sullivan complained to the school, which then tried other solutions to help her son manage his behavior, she said.  But the next year, he was losing recess again.

O’Sullivan did her homework. She found the following in California’s educational code:  “The governing board of a school district may adopt reasonable rules and regulations to authorize a teacher to restrict for disciplinary purposes the time a pupil under his or her supervision is allowed for recess.” … Continue reading »

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School Board considers options for tackling student surge

Photo: Pete Rosos
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With an extra 250 students projected to crowd into Berkeley schools in the coming three years, the school board considered a long list of options for creating space at its Nov. 5 meeting. The board will narrow down the choices at its Dec. 10 meeting, and decide on a plan of action in January.

After hearing a report on the options to add up to 12 classrooms, board members asked staff to more fully explore three possibilities:

  • Moving transitional kindergartens out of the elementary schools to a pre-school site;
  • Converting some, but not all, of the 12 “enrichment classrooms” around the district to regular classrooms. Enrichment classrooms are those used for art, dance, theater, science or other purposes.
  • Moving Berkeley Technology Academy and Independent Study to the Adult Education School on San Pablo Avenue, and using the BTA site on Martin Luther King Jr. Way near Derby as an elementary school.

“There’s no solution that has no downside,” said board president Josh Daniels after the presentation. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley elections: Kriss Worthington retains District 7; nail-biting race continues in District 8

Counting ballots at the Alameda County Registrar of Voters in November 2014. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Election day may be nearly a week behind us, but votes are still being counted and the results of some Berkeley races are still being determined, including District 8 where Lori Droste is currently very narrowly ahead for that council seat.

Absentee ballots are still being processed and will likely continue through the week. The latest counts are posted to the Alameda County registrar of voters website around 5 p.m. daily. Under state law, Alameda County has until Dec. 2 to certify its election results.

Berkeleyside is keeping results updated daily on our main Election 2014 results post, and will continue do so so until all races have officially ended.

In District 7, incumbent Kriss Worthington has kept his seat on the council after Sean Barry, who was the only candidate running against him, conceded the race.

“I’d like to congratulate Kriss Worthington and thank my supporters. The outcome is clear even if the final tally is not,” Barry said today. … Continue reading »

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BUSD superintendent: ‘We have much more work to do’

berkeley high
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In response to unruly behavior on the Berkeley High campus Oct. 24, and the current absence of top leadership at the school, Berkeley Unified School District Superintendent Donald Evans has asked the school’s former principal to take a more active role in the day-to-day running of the school, and has committed to having a new principal in place by July 1, 2015.

In an email sent to the Berkeley High community Tuesday, Evans said the problems that occurred on Rally Day at Berkeley High demonstrated that the district had “much more work to do.”

A Berkeley High staffer was sent to the hospital with a head injury sustained during what the school described as a mob scene involving an estimated 500 mostly junior and senior students “participating in hazing and bullying behavior,” chanting and throwing objects, including glass bottles after school let out on Friday Oct. 24. While trying to break up the mob, two additional staff members were hit. Fifteen students were found to be intoxicated and were suspended. … Continue reading »

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Challenger Ty Alper gets seat on Berkeley School Board; third seat too close to call

Ty Alper (second from left) on the campaign trail in September. Photo Ty Alper for School Board
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Ty Alper, a challenger, has won a seat on the Berkeley School Board with the most votes – so far — in a close race, while incumbent Josh Daniels received the second-to-most votes.

The race for the third board seat, between incumbents Karen Hemphill and Julie Sinai is so close — about a half of a percent — that it is too close to call, according to the Alameda County Registrar of Voters office. Vote-by-mail ballots dropped off at the polls on Election Day are still uncounted.

More information may be available by Thursday evening, but the registrar has 28 days to tally the results.

See Berkeleyside’s live election night blog for the latest vote tallies.

Alper was reached while cleaning his house today.

“Campaign HQ was my living room, and I had promised the family I would put it back to normal,” Alper said. “I’m sure we’ll celebrate, but I want to wait to see how these last votes come in before really celebrating.” … Continue reading »

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Berkeley School Board primer: enrollment and capacity, recess restriction, emergency preparedness

The Berkeley School Board, at its August meeting. Photo: Mark Coplan/BUSD
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The Berkeley schools Board of Education meets tonight (Wednesday, Nov. 5) for a closed session at 6 p.m., followed by its regular meeting at 7:30 p.m.  Follow along via the Nov. 5 agenda packet.

The board will discuss possible solutions to overcrowding in the schools and will hear the first draft of a policy on using recess restriction as a punishment. The board will also hear presentations on emergency preparedness and planning for the BSEP ballot measure in 2016.

There are no action items on the agenda; the board will not be voting on anything.

Closed session

The meeting will begin Wednesday at 6 p.m. with a closed session to discuss anticipated litigation, the high school principal position, and evaluation of Superintendent Donald Evans (p. 1 of the agenda). Public comment, up to 15 minutes, will be taken prior to the closed session. … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Cal should take down beer and athletics billboard

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Has anyone been in the Alta Bates ER on a UC Berkeley football game night? I have, and it is an eye-opening experience of drunkenness and bloody injuries.

I was astonished this week as I headed home from work to see a billboard next to the freeway in Emeryville advertising beer with the Cal Athletics logo. I had noticed a similar billboard a year ago and wrote to the newly appointed Chancellor expressing my concerns. I received a prompt reply … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Berkeley teachers support Measure D

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On behalf of all Berkeley teachers, I ask you to vote yes on Measure D for the health of our children.

Ask any teacher in Berkeley and they will tell you that there is a strong connection between physical health and academics. Indeed, research has shown that when students are healthy, they are much more likely to attend school and be ready to learn; and when students are not healthy, their academics suffer. According to the California School Board’s Association:

Continue reading »

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