Tag Archives: Berkeley Unified School District

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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Berkeley High staffer injured, 15 students suspended, due to 500-strong student mob involving bullying, drinking

Rally Day in 2012, the last one to happen after it was canceled due to what the district said was
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A Berkeley High staffer was sent to the hospital Friday with a head injury sustained during what the school describes as a mob scene involving an estimated 500 students “participating in hazing and bullying behavior,” chanting and throwing objects, including glass bottles.

Berkeley police were called to help BHS administration and safety staff control the crowd of mostly juniors and seniors that gathered on the campus quad at around 3:45 p.m. While trying to break up the mob, two additional staff members were hit, according to Jorge Melgoza, vice principal of Berkeley High, who sent an email to the school community about the incident that was delivered on Saturday.

Fifteen students were found to be intoxicated and were suspended Friday. None were injured and no arrests were made. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley School Board: 3 seats contested by 5 candidates

The Berkeley School Board, at its August meeting. Photo: Mark Coplan/BUSD
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Three seats on the Berkeley Unified school board are being contested by five candidates in this year’s election. Three of the candidates — Josh Daniels, Karen Hemphill and Julie Sinai — are incumbents on the board (although Sinai was appointed, not elected, following the resignation of Leah Wilson). Ty Alper and Norma Harrison are the two non-incumbents running for the board.

Berkeleyside asked each of the candidates a number of questions about both their background and their views on some key issues facing Berkeley schools. The responses to the questions are provided in alphabetical order below.

One slightly unusual aspect about the school board race is that the three incumbents have endorsed each other and are circulating literature encouraging voters to elect them as a combined slate. Since school-board elections are citywide, building name recognition among voters is often particularly difficult for non-incumbents. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley School Board primer: BCCE union contract, compensation report on the agenda

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, Oct. 22) for a closed session at 6 p.m., followed by its regular meeting at 7:30 p.m.  Follow along via the Oct. 22 agenda packet.

The board is scheduled to approve a contract for a staff union that has been under negotiation for three years. The board will also approve new compensation levels for classified staff, based on comparisons with similar districts.

In addition, the board will discuss reports on indicators of student progress and adult-school benchmarks.

Closed session

The board will begin its Wednesday meeting at 6 p.m. with a closed session to discuss collective bargaining and the evaluation of Superintendent Donald Evans. Public comment, up to 15 minutes, will be taken prior to the closed session. Details are on page 1 of the regular packet. … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: School district overcrowding is an opportunity that begins as a problem

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Last week’s Berkeley School Board meeting kicked off a series of important community input meetings to address the issue of overcrowding in our schools. Parents from local elementary schools shared observations about how increasing demands on our teachers, classrooms, schoolyards and cafeterias undermine the quality education that we want for Berkeley’s kids.

Although our schools are overflowing, the school board meeting felt strangely empty. Four of our ten elementary schools were represented, and no middle school or high school parents … Continue reading »

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