Tag Archives: Berkeley Unified School District
The City of Berkeley shut down the swimming pool at Berkeley High School on Wednesday saying the level of chemicals in the water significantly exceeded normal operating conditions. The decision came on the heels of concerns expressed by parents that students on the water polo team were displaying alarming symptoms, including burning eyes, bleached hair, and, in some cases, the disappearance of body hair.
On Tuesday, several parents of water polo players delivered a letter to the principal describing the problems their children were experiencing and asking for something to be done. The city came in the next day to test the pool, according to Mark Coplan, public information officer for Berkeley Unified School District.
A meeting about the situation was held in the office of BHS Principal Pasquale Scuderi on Thursday, and the school’s water polo coach, Bill Gaebler, reported on its outcome to the water polo parents by email that evening. Gaebler revealed the results of the water testing which showed that an “exponentially high” pH level 0f 8.5 had been caused by a defective CO2 tank. He outlined the steps that the school would be taking to address the problem. … Continue reading »
A double header and a football scrimmage were cancelled by unseasonable rain on Saturday September 21, but that didn’t stop more than 250 people gathering at the new expanse of green at MLK Jr. Way and Derby in Berkeley to witness the dedication of the new Tim Moellering Field.
Moellering was the much-loved Berkeley High teacher and coach who died in 2011. Construction on the field began more than a year ago. The field is designed principally for use by the athletics programs at Berkeley High and Berkeley Tech.
Once the heavens had opened, the crowd moved inside to the BTECH auditorium next door. … Continue reading »
Berkeley students on the lower end of the achievement gap made critical academic gains in the past year, according to a report released last week by the California Department of Education. The Academic Performance Index (API) for Socio-Economically Disadvantaged students rose by 21 points, for African American students by 16 points, and for students with disabilities by 11 points. API scores increased for Asian students by only 3 points and for white students by 2 points.
But a comparison of actual scores shows the achievement gap is still painfully wide in Berkeley. The API for white students in the district was 925, while for African American students it was 675. Hispanic or Latino students are steadily making gains, but at 766 points their score still doesn’t hit the state benchmark.
“For the API as a district we did see an achievement gain because our white students only showed a 2 point gain, whereas our African American students had a 16 point gain,” said BUSD’s director of evaluation and assessment Debbi D’Angelo. “But that doesn’t mean the work is done. That just means we’ve made some gains.” … Continue reading »
The construction worker who died at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School in Berkeley earlier this week has been identified by authorities as 62-year-old Oscar Marquez of Livermore.
Marquez, an employee of Robert A. Bothman Construction, had been laying asphalt for a school track project on Tuesday at 12:35 p.m. when a big rig parked on a slope rolled over him and killed him, authorities said.
The Alameda County coroner’s office said the cause of death was listed as extensive blunt force trauma.
Cal/OSHA spokesman Peter Melton said earlier this week that the agency will conduct the investigation into Marquez’s death, which could take up to six months to complete. The agency enforces worker safety and health standards. … Continue reading »
Berkeley students improved on the California Standardized Testing and Reporting assessments this year, according to data released Thursday by the state Department of Education.
State-wide, scores declined marginally, as the percentage of students who performed at the proficient level or above — the target level for all students — decreased by less than one percent in mathematics, English language arts, and science. But in Berkeley schools that percentage rose on average in each category: in math, the number of students meeting the target level increased by 2.3 percentage points; in English, it increased by 0.4; in science, it increased by 2.8; and in history, it increased by 4.5 percentage points since 2012.
In addition, the total percentage of target-level scores in Berkeley remained higher than the state average in all subject categories. … Continue reading »
New principal appointments have been made for Berkeley’s LeConte and Oxford elementary schools.
Elizabeth (“Beth”) Rhine will assume the role of principal at Oxford, replacing Jen Corn, who transferred to Thousand Oaks this summer. Veronica Valerio will join LeConte as its principal after Kathryn Singh, the former principal, announced on July 1 that she would be moving to Massachusetts for family reasons.
New BUSD Superintendent Donald Evans emailed both school communities announcing the new appointments last week. … Continue reading »
Those who have tried to use the track or field at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School recently know that bulldozers have taken over the area, gates are locked, and temporary fencing is blocking the pathway coming from the school.
Shortly after King students left for summer, renovations began to replace irrigation and grass in the field and to make the track into an all-weather track. The plan laid out by the Berkeley Unified School Board in 2011 only involved improvements to the field, which has become uneven over time, but community members wanted to add track resurfacing to the project.
“There was a big push to get an all-weather track, and that’s what the top priority was,” said Lew Jones, maintenance director for the Berkeley Unified School District. … Continue reading »
On his third day as superintendent of Berkeley Unified School District, Donald Evans’ office still had a just-moved-in feel, with few personal effects on the walls or his desk. Pride of place on the desktop was a freshly bound copy of the school district’s annual budget, already looking well thumbed.
Berkeleyside met with Evans so early in his tenure not to grill him about Berkeley issues — he understandably said he needs time to develop his thinking on the specifics — but to hear from the new superintendent about what brought him to Berkeley, and what he views as the major challenges of the post. … Continue reading »
Summer vacation is in full swing for most Berkeley Unified School District teachers and students, but the bargaining table between the district and its unions won’t get much downtime.
The district recently released an update on contract negotiations with its four unions.
As previously reported, the district in late May reached a tentative 2012-2013 school year contract agreement with the Berkeley Federation of Teachers (BFT), which, among other things, provides a 2.5% annual salary increase retroactive for one year, and a 2.5% one-time bonus on top of a 1% bonus given last year.
The district’s classified employees, who include school secretaries, instructional aides, bus drivers, maintenance and food service workers, received the same raise and bonus, under an agreement called a “me too” clause, which says if teachers get a raise, classified do too.
But the district’s full contract — with its roughly 600 classifed employees, who are represented by the Berkeley Council of Classified Employees (BCCE) — is far from settled, with even the salary issue up in the air. … Continue reading »
Update, 4:02 p.m.: The Principal of LeConte Elementary School announced she is resigning shortly after this story was published. In a statement issued today, Kathryn Singh said she would be moving back to Massachusetts due to family matters. BUSD Co-Superintendent Neil Smith said in a note to the LeConte community that Singh had been a great educational leader for LeConte and that “her bilingual and cross-cultural expertise served LeConte well in this year of transitions.” He continued: “I am committed to making the process to hire LeConte’s next principal as transparent and smooth as possible. The opening was officially advertised today both locally and through a well-regarded public education online search service.”
Original story: A Berkeley elementary school principal has been asked to switch schools, opening up a new head-of-school vacancy in a field which has seen several changes recently.
Jen Corn, who has been Principal at Oxford Elementary for two years, will replace Gayle Hughes as the new principal of Thousand Oaks Elementary School. Hughes announced this summer that, due to the relocation of her husband’s workplace, she will be moving to Southern California. … Continue reading »
A school district proposal to replace decades-old portable classrooms at Berkeley’s Washington Elementary and Berkeley Arts Magnet schools with a set of newer ones that are being removed from the Berkeley High campus, has been delayed for further consideration after concerns were expressed by parents at the schools.
At Wednesday night’s BUSD Board meeting, it was agreed that the plan (some of the details of which can be viewed here), that had originally been slated for approval on June 12, would be rescheduled to the Sept. 9 school board meeting.
The portables at BAM and Washington were installed in the lates 1960s as a temporary measure. In the latter case, they form Washington’s annex campus on McKinley St. across from the school’s main campus. The decision to switch them out with the BHS portables, which are 4-5 years’ old, was taken in 2011 as part of a system replacements plan funded by the 2010 $210m Measure I bond measure. … Continue reading »
Despite delays at the beginning of the school year caused by the discovery of an unexpected type of asbestos, the Berkeley High School South of Bancroft Project is back on schedule, according to Principal Pasquale Scuderi.
The ongoing construction project on the southern end of campus has so far involved installing a stadium on the east side of the athletic field, which has new bleachers standing over a sports facility building with locker rooms, team meeting areas, coaches’ offices and a weight room. A decrepit set of bleachers on the west side of the field has been torn down, as has the seismically-unfit Old Gym to make way for a new academic building along Milvia Street.
Currently underway is the construction of the new academic building, which has yet to be named, and the installation of new visitors’ bleachers on the west side of the field. The latter should be ready when school resumes in the fall. … Continue reading »
Citing a failure to address significant plumbing problems at Emerson Elementary that date back years, community members pleaded with the Berkeley Unified School Board last Wednesday to ask the district to change its approach to communication as well as maintenance issues.
According to a June 4 letter from the Emerson PTA, two pipes broke last year, in a hallway and a teachers’ bathroom. Then, a few days into the 2012-13 school year, a broken faucet flooded, which led to the relocation of four classrooms of young students.
In May, a leak and water damage closed two bathrooms, one boys’ and one girls’, for more than two weeks. Concern heightened when the possibility of mold contamination arose, which “could pose potential health risks to children and staff with asthma, lung disease, or allergies,” said the PTA. … Continue reading »