Tag Archives: Berkeley Unified School District

BHS Stop Harassing takes campaign to Berkeley council

BHS Stop Harassing has been working to raise awareness about sexual harassment and other types of discrimination at Berkeley High over the past year. Photo: BHS Stop Harassing
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Advocates working to raise awareness about sexual harassment faced by Berkeley Unified students asked the Berkeley City Council for its support Tuesday night, saying the school district has not done enough to respond to ongoing problems faced by students, or comply with mandatory rules.

City officials said they were sympathetic to the group but could not take a position until the Board of Education has a chance to respond. Officials asked city staff to bring the matter to the School Board’s attention, and said they would consider revisiting the topic down the line.

On the Sept. 15 agenda was a resolution submitted to council by the city’s Peace & Justice Commission, which voted earlier this year to send the resolution to council and the board. The resolution was in support of the BHS Stop Harassing group’s work, and outlined the problem as described by the group.

According to the commission’s report, the Berkeley Unified School District did not adequately address the sexual harassment of a student by a school administrator in 2010, when allegations arose related to inappropriate touching and suggestive remarks made to a student by a BHS counselor.

In that case, the district settled in 2011-12 with the impacted family and agreed, among other remedies, to improve the language in the BUSD handbook related to sexual harassment, create an advisory committee to tackle the policy issue, and improve training for parents related to the subject. … Continue reading »

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The Bread Project returns to Berkeley this fall

The Bread Project has moved to 1615 University Ave. (at California). Photo: Kate Williams
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The Crayola-blue storefront at 1615 University Ave. has stood empty for three years, slowly collecting window graffiti and dust. But this June, signs of life began to appear. Baking racks appeared in the windows. Long wooden work tables filled the room. Soon, a sign appeared on the front door: The Bread Project is moving in.

Founded in 2001 by Lucie Buchbinder and Susan Phillips, The Bread Project trains low-income individuals in food service skills — specifically baking —  and helps them find and retain jobs across the service and culinary industry. Its students come from many walks of life. About 30% are formerly incarcerated individuals, 20% are refugees and new immigrants and others that have other significant barriers to employment. “Everybody is starting over, starting anew,” said Valerie Afroilan, the senior director of programs. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley School Board Primer: Projects over budget at King and Willard, district priorities and finances

The Berkeley Unified School District Board of Education. Photo: Mark Coplan/BUSD
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The Berkeley schools Board of Education meets tonight, Sept. 9, beginning in closed session at 5:30 p.m. The regular meeting will begin at 7:30 p.m. See the full agenda packet here.

The regular meeting is set to begin by 7:30 p.m. Public comment is limited to 30 minutes, with a 3-minute limit per speaker. Public comment takes place at the beginning and end of the meeting, rather than in response to each item. There are two action items, related to district finances, and two discussion items. The discussion items will focus on the priorities and initiatives in the 2015-16 school year, and the board policy priorities. On the consent calendar, two district construction projects, at Willard and King middle schools, have run into challenges and must get more money from BUSD to do the needed work. … Continue reading »

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Photo Gallery: First days back at school in Berkeley

BUSD first days back at school September 2015. Photo: Mark Coplan
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If you’ve got kids in Berkeley Unified you’ll have been hearing all about their first days back at school this week: what their new teachers are like, who they sit next to in class, what their friends have been up to over the summer. Berkeley Unified spokesperson and official photographer Mark Coplan has been dropping in on campuses across the city over the past two days to capture a host of ‘back to school’ moments.

On Wednesday Coplan visited 15 sites in this order: Washington Elementary; Berkeley High; Berkeley Arts Magnet (BAM); Willard Middle School; Longfellow Middle School; the BUSD admissions office; Independent Studies; Willard (with lunch); Emerson; Oxford; Thousand Oaks; King M.S.; Jefferson; Berkeley Adult School; Rosa Parks and King CDC. … Continue reading »

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City Council seeks to move meetings to West Berkeley

The BUSD Headquarters on Bonar Street. Photo: Kaia Diringer
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Update, Sept. 15 The neighborhood meeting has been moved to Sept. 24 because of a scheduling conflict, district spokesman Mark Coplan told Berkeleyside today. Coplan explained by email that “It is a neighborhood meeting like we conduct when there is going to be construction or something that will have an impact on the surrounding area. We are not posting it or encouraging a larger audience so that our neighbors have ample opportunity to discuss the impact.” The district will be posting fliers in the neighborhood, and inviting residents in Daryl Moore and Linda Maio’s districts around the West Campus “to come and share their questions, concerns and expectations with Daryl and Linda, facilitated by the superintendent and board president.” Added Coplan: “The impact of the city’s proposed pilot on our neighbors is the only issue that involves BUSD. Any town hall or larger discussion about the COB’s plans to move their meetings would be conducted by the city.” (See a meeting flier here.)

Original story, Sept. 2 The Berkeley City Council, set to resume its meetings later this month after summer recess, is exploring a potential move to West Berkeley to the Berkeley Unified School District’s meeting room on Bonar Street.

Last week, the School Board considered the request, and voted to hold a town hall meeting Tuesday, Sept. 15, to allow community members to give feedback about the proposal.

Council has been looking for a new meeting space since 2011. Its current meeting space at Old City Hall, the Maudelle Shirek Building at 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, is lacking in a variety of ways.

According to a June 23 staff report, “The physical condition of the building is very dilapidated and poses significant dangers. The capacity of the hall is not adequate to accommodate the public on nights when there is significant interest in agenda items. In addition, the safety of the elevator is precarious, the toilet facilities are not adequate and the sound system makes hearing the meetings very challenging for both the council and the public.” … Continue reading »

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Berkeley’s 16 schools welcome students back for new year, Pasarow starts as principal at BHS

New BHS principal Sam Pasarow meets with parents. Photo: Mark Coplan
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More than 9,000 students returned to Berkeley’s 11 elementary, three middle and two high schools schools today. Detailed enrollments will be announced by the school district in the coming weeks, but spokesman Mark Coplan said that district administrators believe the total will be very close to forecast.

The major change in the district is the arrival of Sam Pasarow as the new principal at Berkeley High. Pasarow, formerly principal of Edna Brewer Middle School in Oakland Unified School District, started at Berkeley High on July 1, succeeding interim principal Kristen Glenchur.

“He is a taskmaster. He will get things done,” said Superintendent Donald Evans, describing Pasarow to parents at a public meeting on Thursday last week. Evans pointed out that Berkeley High ranked in the nation’s top 200 high schools. “His job is to get Berkeley High into the top 100.”  … Continue reading »

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Berkeley School Board primer: Berkeley Technology Academy review, council asks to move to Bonar, more

The Berkeley Unified School District Board of Education. Photo: Mark Coplan/BUSD
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The Berkeley schools Board of Education meets tonight, Aug. 26, beginning at 6 p.m. See the agenda packet here.

There are two back-to-back board meetings Wednesday night. The first, at 6 p.m., is a training to go over the district’s new online agenda packet system.

The regular meeting is set to begin by 7:30 p.m. There’s one action item, regarding the Berkeley City Council’s request to move its meetings, on a pilot basis, to the school district’s board room on Bonar Street. There are also three discussion items, focused on a progress report for Berkeley Technology Academy (which Berkeleyside took an in-depth look at in early June); the Local Control and Accountability Plan; and a review of the district’s school naming policy.  … Continue reading »

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Thousands attend Berkeley High all-class reunion

BHS Picnic 2005. Photo: Mark Coplan/BUSD
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An estimated 3,000 people attended the Berkeley High School All-Class Reunion on Saturday Aug. 22 at San Pablo Park in Berkeley. They gathered under blue skies to greet old friends, reminisce, buy commemorative T-shirts, and have a good time.

This is the third all-school picnic since 2011. The picnic is held every other year and the number of attendees keeps growing.

“I just wanted to say what a wonderful time I had at the BHS all-class reunion today,” one attendee said on the reunion’s Facebook page. “Seeing everyone enjoying themselves with family and friends brought tears to my eyes. Being from Berkeley, a resident of Berkeley, and graduating from Berkeley High (No matter the Year) is truly a unique experience.”

Mark Coplan, the public information officer for the Berkeley Unified School District, took these photos. More photos can be found here.  … Continue reading »

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UC Berkeley’s student-run garden offers urban oasis

Kate Kaplan (left) and Sara Cate Jones are two of several SOGA garden managers. They are anxiously awaiting the first figs to ripen, which will happen in a matter of weeks. Photo: Alix Wall
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by Alix Wall/Bay Area Bites

Whenever UC Berkeley student Sara Cate Jones has felt the blues coming on, she’s relied on the same remedy: she goes to the student garden on the corner of Walnut and Virginia streets and picks herself a bouquet of flowers.

“The garden is always here for you,” said Kate Kaplan.

Jones and Kaplan are two of several student garden managers for the SOGA (Student Organic Garden Association) garden.

Established in 1971 by a group of students shortly after the first Earth Day, the garden has offered students and the community at large an urban oasis in North Berkeley for over 40 years. … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Berkeley Unified Superintendent responds to story on Berkeley Technology Academy

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Last Friday, I stood in line to congratulate our graduating students at the Greek Theatre, including students from our continuation high school, Berkeley Technology Academy (BTA). As I watched them walk confidently on and off the stage, I reflected on the article published on Berkeleyside (June 3, 2015), and felt it was important to share my view of our students and staff at BTA.

Berkeley Technology Academy is an alternative high school comprised of students who have not … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Community Fund awards record number of college scholarships to Berkeley students

Photo: Berkeley Community Fund
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Twenty-seven Berkeley High students who were awarded scholarships to college by the the Berkeley Community Fund (BCF) were honored at the Berkeley City Club on Monday, June 8.

The winners of the High Hopes Scholarships represent a wide range of ethnicities, family backgrounds, and academic interests. Most are first-generation college students, and many are immigrants. They will all receive $16,000 over four years in need-based scholarships and one-on-one mentorships.

The Berkeley Community Fund’s High Hopes Scholarship Program has supported low-income, high-achieving Berkeley High School students since 2008. This year marks the highest number of students ever to receive High Hopes scholarships, up from 23 last year. The students have already been accepted to a four-year college; BCF ensures that they can attend and succeed. Continue reading »

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Remembering the Legacy of Mr. Norman C. Letcher, Berkeley Schools, 1933-2015

Screen shot 2015-06-09 at 1.34.28 PM
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By Natalie Letcher

Norman Cornelius Letcher, Dean of Students at Berkeley High School, passed away peacefully in his sleep on May 1, 2015, and had been continually surrounded by family and loved ones. Born June 11, 1933, he was just one month shy of 82 years old.

Mr. Letcher had a longstanding successful career in education that spanned 25 years, which included employment in the Berkeley Unified School District as well as the Parks & Recreation Department. For over … Continue reading »

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Soda tax brings needed cash to gardening program

BUSD's cooking and gardening program has been in need of financial support since federal funding was slashed in 2013. Photo: Kaia Diringer
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The Berkeley Unified School District’s beleaguered cooking and gardening program will see a welcome injection of funds as a result of revenues accrued from Measure D, the so-called soda tax, approved by city residents last November.

On Thursday, June 4, a panel appointed to allocate taxes collected from the sugar-sweetened beverage tax recommended $250,000 be advanced to the cooking and gardening program.

It was announced May 18 that the soda tax had raised $116,000 in its first month of operation.

The Berkeley City Council is set to vote to approve the panel’s recommendation by June 30, while the Berkeley School Board is slated to finalize its budget June 10 with the knowledge that the funding is essentially secured. … Continue reading »

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