Tag Archives: BUSD

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Op-ed: Are Berkeley schools victims of their own success?

Students eating lunch at Malcolm X Elementary School. Photo: Mark Coplan/BUSD
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In the past few years, Malcolm X Elementary School has gone from a student population of about 400 students to nearly 600. It’s not alone. Many of Berkeley Unified’s schools are grappling with increasing numbers of kids and not necessarily seeing a corresponding growth in resources to handle them.

In an Opinionator piece published on Berkeleyside, Joshua Room, a BUSD graduate himself and former president of Malcolm X PTA, argues that our schools are bursting at the seams and there do not seem to be good short- or long-term alternatives for accommodating the increase. Why, he asks, does BUSD seem “to be repeatedly caught off-guard by this continuing, explosive growth?” … Continue reading »

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Opinionator

Op-ed: Berkeley schools are victims of their own success

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I am a proud graduate from, and enthusiastic supporter of, the Berkeley public schools. I am a lifelong resident of Berkeley, and have chosen to raise my family here. I love the school that my children attend, and have had nothing but tremendously positive experiences with all of the teachers and staff that have been involved in their education and care.

But Berkeley elementary schools are experiencing unprecedented problems with student population growth. In recent years, the number of students … Continue reading »

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Mediation between school district, staff union fizzles

The BUSD school board meeting at its new meeting space on Bonar St. in March headquarters. Photo: Mark Coplan/BUSD
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After failing to agree on a new contract despite three years of talking, the Berkeley Unified School District and a union representing 570 Berkeley school employees will now turn negotiations over to a fact-finding panel.

A mediator that has been working with BUSD and the Berkeley Council of Classified Employees union (BCCE) since February decided on July 29 that mediation could not bring the two sides any closer and turned the process over to a three-member panel. The main sticking point is the question of involuntary transfers. The district and union have reached agreement on many other issues, including salary raises. … Continue reading »

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4 new principals appointed to elementary and middle schools, search continues for new head of Berkeley High

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Four new principals have been appointed to Berkeley elementary and middle schools, and the Berkeley Unified Board has decided to conduct a second-round search for a candidate to replace Pasquale Scuderi who is leaving his post as principal of Berkeley High to become Assistant Superintendent.

The board also approved last week the appointment of a new vice-principal at Berkeley High and a program supervisor for its Extended Learning Program.

There follows information on all the new appointments, provided by BUSD.

Hazelle Fortich is the new principal at Cragmont Elementary School

Hazelle Fortich has deep roots in our district community. She has served as Coordinator for Early Childhood Program, summer school principal, interim principal at Washington, literacy coach at Washington, after-school teacher at LeConte, and teacher at Malcolm X. One of her references states: “She lives and works in Berkeley and is a committed parent, teacher and community member. Those experiences mean that she will bring the importance of family and community to any school district. As a parent, she knows the value of strong ties to families and the value of fostering all forms of diversity in our schools.” … Continue reading »

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Chanting protesters shut down school board meeting

Nearly 200 union workers from the Berkeley schools shut down the school board meeting temporarily Wednesday night. The group declined to stop their impassioned chanting, forcing the board members to go into closed session for about 15 minutes. (The video, above, by Mary Flaherty, shows members leaving their posts.)

District spokesman Mark Coplan said he’d never seen a Berkeley school board shut down in 20 years of service.

The Berkeley Council of Classified Employees union represents about 570 office staffers, custodians, food service workers, instructional assistants, school safety officers, secretaries, librarians, bus drivers and others.

The union is has been negotiating a new contract for three years, and is currently working under an old one. … Continue reading »

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2 Berkeley school principals move to new district roles

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Berkeley Unified School District is promoting two of its school principals to new district-level director positions.

Longfellow principal Pat Saddler will be the director of special projects and programs, and Jefferson principal Maggie Riddle will be the director of schools, both in the Educational Services Division. BUSD Board President Josh Daniels made the announcement at the board’s regular meeting Wednesday night.

Both Saddler and Riddle will report to the district’s new Assistant Superintendent, Pasquale Scuderi, who, it was announced earlier this month, is moving to the district from Berkeley High where he has been principal for the past four years.

Pat Saddler came to Berkeley in 1999 as LeConte Elementary School principal. She was asked to take the helm at Rosa Parks Elementary School in 2005. At Rosa Parks she established an API score for a school that had not historically participated in California Standards Testing (CST), and gained 36 points over a three-year period. In 2008 Saddler became principal at Longfellow Middle School. … Continue reading »

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Dine out to help Berkeley schools’ gardening program

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Since it lost $1.9 million in federal funding last year, Berkeley schools’ much lauded, 12-year-old cooking and gardening program has been struggling to find a way to survive and continue to provide invaluable edible education to the city’s young.

The unique district-wide program encourages students to explore the value of eating fresh fruits and vegetables, getting physical activity, and knowing where their food comes from.

But the program is now “operating on a lifeline with a piecemeal budget,” said its director, Jezra Thompson.

The community has been very supportive to date and gets two new opportunities both this month and next to help.

On Tuesday May 13, you can participate in the second annual Berkeley Dine Out, when many local restaurants, bakeries and cafés will donate a percentage of your bill to the school program. Participating spots include Elmwood Café, Zut!, Cancun, Eureka!, Benchmark Pizzeria, Babette, Ippuku and Flaco’s. (See the full list.) … Continue reading »

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Berkeley School District seeks feedback on how to spend $2.4 million for low-income students

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Berkeley schools are getting an extra $2.4 million this year to help low-income students and English learners under a new state funding system. To decide how best to spend the money, the district has been working with the community for the past seven months.

Last week administrators shared the first draft of the three-year plan, which includes hiring more teachers of English as a foreign language and more reading specialists. The district is looking for feedback on the draft by this Friday, May 9.

The plan is called the Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP). It is part of a new system of state funding for schools, signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown last year, called the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), which began this school year.

It sounds dry, but it’s a big deal, said BUSD Assistant Superintendent Neil Smith. In fact, Smith said, the LCFF is the biggest change in how California schools are funded that he’s seen in his 25-year career with Berkeley schools. … Continue reading »

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Herb Wong: Visionary founder of Berkeley jazz program

Dr. Herb Wong, Washington Elementary School Principal invited world class big bands to perform for BUSD students.
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Herb Wong, the founding father of  the pioneering jazz program at Berkeley’s schools, died on Sunday April 20, 2014. He was 88.

In an obituary published today on Berkeleyside, Sarah Cline, Jazz Program Director at Berkeley High School, remembers the visionary principal of Washington Elementary School who believed in jazz education for young children — as music education, as a part of the civil rights movement, and as a way of propagating a democratic and artistic spirit — and who brought famous jazz musicians, including Duke Ellington and Oscar Peterson, to give concerts at the school. … Continue reading »

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Obituaries

Herb Wong: Visionary founder of BUSD’s jazz program

Dr. Herb Wong, Washington Elementary School Principal invited world class big bands to perform for BUSD students.
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By Sarah Cline, Jazz Program Director at Berkeley High School

We at Berkeley High School and in BUSD Jazz lost our founding father this Easter. Dr. Herb Wong passed early in the morning Sunday April 20. He was 88.

Wong was the visionary principal of Washington Elementary School who was responsible for hiring Phil Hardymon, Dick Wittington and Bob Chaconas to teach jazz to little kids in the Berkeley Unified School District, way back in the late 1960s. At the time, Wong was one of a … Continue reading »

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Opinionator

Op-ed: Let’s join forces to back Healthy Berkeley program

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A broad coalition of diverse community representatives came together before the Berkeley City Council recently to call for Council support for two very important “Healthy Berkeley” initiatives. One involves a city parks bond proposal, and the other a proposed tax on sugary drinks.

Both could provide long-term funding for healthy city improvements, including parks, playgrounds, pools, school gardens, and nutrition and physical education programs.

Recent events require action

Several recent events have galvanized community … Continue reading »

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Illegal enrollment is boon and burden to Berkeley schools

Students at King Middle School Photo:
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When Sarah James went to the first meeting for her daughter’s freshman crew team at Berkeley High School, she wanted to form a carpool for the 6 a.m. practices.

But James (not her real name) lived in Oakland and had enrolled her daughter using a false address. James did not think she would find any other crew members living near her Rockridge bungalow, but she needn’t have worried. That fall, there were four other girls on the team who lived in Oakland, James said.

The official freshman crew roster, however, showed that everyone had a Berkeley address.

That was nearly 10 years ago, but people haven’t stopped enrolling their kids illegally in Berkeley schools. Everyone seems to know a case: people using relatives’ addresses, friends’ addresses, or even rental property owned by the family who lives out of town. One recent gossip item on a local internet site: a man with a boat at the Berkeley marina, using that address to enroll his child, who lives in another city. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley school employees demonstrate for new contract

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Around 100 Berkeley Unified School District employees — including instructional assistants, school secretaries, custodians, bus drivers, and some of their children — held a rally and demonstrated on the afternoon of Friday March 28 in front of BUSD’s headquarters at 2020 Bonar St.

The demonstrators, members the Berkeley Council of Classified Employees (BCCE) which represents 570 classified employees within Berkeley Unified, said that their top concerns were income inequality, affordable health care, and a stable learning environment. … Continue reading »

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