Tag Archives: Berkeley Unified School District

Kids get new perspective on plastic, make eco-art

Sean Keller, fourth-grade teacher at Jefferson School, fixing one of the eco-art panels.
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By Ann Krueger Spivack

While students in Sean Keller’s fourth-grade class at Jefferson School tie broken toys onto a wire mesh panel, Colleen Mahoney is talking about LEGOs. Mahoney nods to a red LEGO brick that one student picks up from a table.

“In 2012, 45.7 billion LEGO bricks were produced. That’s more than 5 million bricks every hour. Right now you could give every person on the planet eighty LEGOs and you’d still have LEGO bricks left over.”

Students stop working to listen to Mahoney, and it’s clear they’re considering how much plastic humans create on an hourly basis, and what this means for the planet. This lesson is a first step in teaching children about plastic, where it comes from and where it goes. Where plastic goes is of particular concern to Mahoney, the founder of A Kid By Nature, the nonprofit group sponsoring this lesson about plastic’s impact on the environment. Mahoney explains what motivates her to bring environmental projects such as this one into classrooms, without any cost to the schools. … Continue reading »

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Protests expected at Berkeley council meeting Tuesday

2020 Vision Symposium, Oct. 11, Longfellow Middle School, Berkeley, CA. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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With two protests planned outside tonight’s Berkeley City Council meeting at Longfellow Middle School, Berkeleyside will be on scene with two reporters and will live-tweet about the events that unfold.

The best place to find live updates is the Berkeleyside Twitter feed (no account needed to view) and #Berkeleyprotests on Twitter. Berkeley City Council tweets are generally tagged #berkmtg.

See Berkeleyside’s follow-up story about the meeting.

Berkeleyside may update this post as well — time allowing — depending on what transpires. We invite community members to weigh in below, in the comments section, about what they are seeing and experiencing.

Berkeleyside has previously published an advisory from police about how neighbors can prepare for large demonstrations related to the council meeting, as well as information about meeting agendas and protest plans.  … Continue reading »

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Police warn South Berkeley to prepare for protests

Tonight's Berkeley council meeting is set to take place at Longfellow Middle School. Image: Google maps
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The Berkeley Police Department has released a warning to South Berkeley neighbors to help them prepare for expected crowds attending the Berkeley City Council meeting at Longfellow Middle School on Tuesday night.

See complete Berkeleyside coverage of the recent Berkeley protests.

Officials canceled last week’s council meeting, citing a lack of space for the anticipated turnout, and rescheduled it for tonight, Dec. 16, at 5:30 p.m. at the Longfellow auditorium at 1500 Derby St. near Sacramento Street. (There is a lift for ADA access at the northeast end of the building.) That will be followed by the regularly scheduled council meeting at 7 p.m.

Berkeleyside plans to live tweet the council meeting, as well as highlights from both protests that have been called tonight. Follow along on Twitter (no account needed). See the meeting agendas here. … Continue reading »

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‘Double header’ Berkeley council meetings set for Tuesday, 2 protests also planned

Family members of Kayla Moore say they're still fighting for justice after her death in police custody last year. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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After canceling its regular session last week, the Berkeley City Council is set to hold two back-to-back meetings Tuesday night at Longfellow Middle School.

During those events, two separate groups have announced plans to protest in Berkeley. Separately, the Berkeley Unified School District has announced a panel discussion this week, for BUSD families only, regarding police-related fatalities. It remains to be seen how protest activities might affect the scheduled city meetings, but officials say they are preparing for a large turnout.

City officials canceled the Dec. 9 council meeting after protesters announced plans to take it over and shut it down. Officials said the regular meeting location, at Old City Hall, could not handle the expected capacity, and postponed the meeting to an undetermined date just hours before it was set to begin.

See complete Berkeleyside coverage of the recent Berkeley protests.

Some activists had announced plans earlier this month to “shut down” the Dec. 9 meeting to protest decisions made by the Berkeley Police Department to teargas and fire projectiles at demonstrators who refused to disperse from Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley on Dec. 6. (Berkeleyside has submitted a lengthy list of questions to police about this incident and has been told responses are forthcoming.)

Late last week, city staff said council’s Dec. 9 agenda will be heard Tuesday, Dec. 16, in the auditorium of Longfellow Middle School, at 1500 Derby St. at 5:30 p.m. A special worksession on the Adeline corridor originally scheduled for that time has been canceled. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley School Board primer: Discussion of overcrowding solutions continues

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, Dec. 10) for a closed session at 6 p.m., followed by its regular meeting at 7:30 p.m. See the Dec. 10 agenda packet.

Ty Alper, elected in November, will be joining the board tonight. The board will continue its discussion of solutions to overcrowding in the schools.  See past coverage here.

Closed session

The meeting begins at 6 p.m. with a closed session to discuss collective bargaining with the teachers union, as well as the hiring process for a Berkeley High principal and the appointment of an assistant principal at Malcolm X Elementary School. Public comment, up to 15 minutes, will be taken prior to the closed session.

Discussion items

Part 3 of the four-part discussion on enrollment and capacity is scheduled. The board is supposed to narrow the proposed solutions down to just two. The proposals can be viewed in the board packet online (pp. 50-76). Watch the board’s Nov. 5 discussion on this topic on vimeo (1 hours, 30 minutes). … 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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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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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: Admin, students share blame for BHS Rally Day mob

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I am a senior at Berkeley High School, I’ve been in school Leadership — a student government organization — for all four years, and I was present at Friday’s Rally Day mob scene. I know it got completely out of hand. It is 100% unacceptable for anyone to be physically hurt, and the firecracker that sounded like a gunshot was frightening. Reading through multiple articles, comments and responses from the administration, … Continue reading »

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