Tag Archives: Neil Smith

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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Schools

BHS principal Scuderi moves to assistant superintendent

Pascuale Scuderi at Berkeley High. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Pasquale Scuderi, principal of Berkeley High School since 2010, will become Berkeley Unified’s assistant superintendent for educational services at the end of this school year. Scuderi will take over the role from Neil Smith who is retiring after 25 years with the district.

“The upside to this is that I could move along my career trajectory and still remain connected to the work we’re doing here at Berkeley High,” Scuderi said. “But it’s certainly a little bittersweet. I’ve not really connected yet with what it will mean not being with the kids on a daily basis.”  … Continue reading »

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Illegal enrollment is boon and burden to Berkeley schools

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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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‘Beloved’ Berkeley schools leader to retire after 25 years

Neil Smith will retire after 25 years of service. Photo: Berkeley Unified School District
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A 25-year veteran of the Berkeley public school system will retire later this year, officials announced last week at the Berkeley School Board meeting on Wednesday.

Berkeley Unified School District Superintendent Donald Evans announced the upcoming retirement of Assistant Superintendent Neil Smith, who is set to step down in four months. Smith may continue on in a consulting role with Berkeley Unified, though details on that have not been released.

Evans said he had received the news from Smith reluctantly.

“This has been very, very difficult for me,” said Evans, “because he has been my right hand, and I truly do not know what I would have done without him as I transitioned into Berkeley. He’s always been there.” … Continue reading »

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Enrollment surge necessitates three new kindergartens

BUSD officials informed the principal of Rosa Parks Elementary School, Paco Furlan, just nine days ago that he would have to add another Kindergarten class. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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So many new students have unexpectedly enrolled for kindergarten for the 2013-2014 school year that the Berkeley Unified School District has to add three new kindergarten classrooms.

BUSD has seen steady growth in enrollment in recent years and had projected for larger numbers of kindergarten students, but an additional 66 students unexpectedly signed up, according to a letter sent out this week and signed by Superintendent Donald Evans and Neil Smith, assistant superintendent for educational services. … Continue reading »

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Oxford Principal to Thousand Oaks amid district shuffle

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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 »

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Workshop urges action on gun violence around Berkeley

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Following the recent shootings of former Berkeley students in Oakland, a coalition of groups held a workshop Friday, May 24, to try to figure out ways to reduce the vulnerability of young people in the city. The meeting was spurred by the murder of 17-year-old Olajuwon Clayborn, another incident in which a Berkeley High student was left in a coma and later died, as well as other shootings with Berkeley student connections.

Berkeley Alliance, which coordinates the city’s 2020 Vision program, brought together representatives from Berkeley Unified School District, Berkeley police, City of Berkeley staff, and community organizations to work on violence prevention ideas that have emerged from 2020 Vision workgroups, including greater mental health suport, case workers for at-risk students, case managers for high school students, adopting training program, and community engagement in a citywide anti-violence campaign.  … Continue reading »

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Hayward chief named Berkeley schools superintendent

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The Berkeley Unified School Board on Wednesday night formally appointed Donald Evans as the new Berkeley superintendent of schools by approving his contract. Evans, who was has been superintendent of the Hayward Unified School District for the past two years, will take up the position on July 1.

Berkeley Unified Board President Karen Hemphill said the board had been impressed with Evans’ experience and achievements, as well as his reputation for forging fruitful partnerships and having a collaborative leadership style. In Hayward, Evans held two town hall meetings for the community every year, for example.

“When we look at his body of work, he ticks a lot of the boxes that we wanted in Berkeley,” Hemphill said.

One of Evans’ last tasks in Hayward was submitting a plan to the district to raise the achievement levels of African American students, an issue of direct relevance to Berkeley. … Continue reading »

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Man suspected of trying to abduct 2 Berkeley girls

King Middle School
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On Thursday, May 2, officials say two sixth grade girls, who were waiting to be picked up from King Middle School, were approached by a man who asked them to help him retrieve an item from his car. The case is being treated as a possible attempted abduction.

On Friday, King Principal Janet Levenson sent an email and a recorded message via phone-tree to the King community in which she outlined what happened: “Yesterday at 3:00pm two 6th grade girls were waiting to be picked up at Berryman and Josephine,” she wrote in the email. “A man approached them saying that his keys had fallen into his car and his hand was too big to retrieve them. He pointed to the car which had the door open and was a couple of cars up the street. One girl started to go help him but her friend realized the potential danger and convinced her that they should run into the garden for help. The mom arrived almost immediately but the man was no longer there.He was described as a white male, 5’10”, thin build, brown hair and eyes, and driving a silver 4-door vehicle with no trunk (possibly a small SUV). Please be aware of who is driving around campus and remind your students to wait in front of the school.”
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Schools

Hayward chief is finalist for BUSD superintendent spot

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A national search for a new Berkeley schools superintendent has ended practically right next door in Hayward with the announcement Friday morning that Donald Evans has been chosen by the School Board as its preferred finalist for the position.

Evans has been superintendent of the Hayward Unified School District since 2011, and has previously worked in Compton, Oakland and East Palo Alto. He started out as an elementary school teacher in San Diego in 1988.

Karen Hemphill, Berkeley School Board president, said Evans’ range of experiences — with elementary and secondary students, and struggling students as well as high-performers — and his long history in California set him apart from the pack. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley school board seeks replacement director

BUSD headquarters on Bonar Street. Photo: Kaia Diringer
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Berkeley Unified School District’s board Wednesday night agreed on the procedure to appoint a replacement director for Leah Wilson, who resigned earlier this month. The board has posted an application for directors on its website, with responses due by April 15. The board plans to make an appointment at a special May 1 meeting, with the regular board meeting on May 8 as a fallback in case agreement can’t be reached.

The Berkeley city charter allows the board make an appointment within 60 days of a vacancy occurring. After that point, the County Supervisor can order a special election.  … Continue reading »

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School board launches new superintendent search

The new headquarters of the Berkeley Unified School District
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The Berkeley Unified School District board has launched a new search for a superintendent, following the failure of two attempts to appoint a new head last year. The board has engaged Ray & Associates, an executive search firm that specializes in education, to lead a nationwide search for a new superintendent. The job posting cites a “tradition of excellence rooted in a vibrant community.”

As part of the new search, the board is planning to issue a survey this Friday, and will hold community forums for input on Feb. 28, Mar. 1 and 2. The intention is to interview semifinalists for the post at the end of March.  … Continue reading »

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Schools

Why most Berkeley 9th-graders aren’t actually failing PE

District officials say after-school sports can count toward PE credits, but also make it hard to administer state fitness tests to all students, especially at the ninth-grade level. Photo: Berkeley Unified School District
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A recent state report that includes fitness test results for Berkeley students in three grades shows the district’s ninth-graders falling far short of county and state benchmarks.

Berkeley Unified School District officials said last week, however, that the results actually are an indicator of a more holistic approach to health, rather than a sign that Berkeley teens are out of shape.

The 2012 Physical Fitness Test Results, released in mid-November, were given to 1.3 million fifth-­, seventh­- and ninth-­graders statewide; they make up more than 93% of all students enrolled in those grades in California public schools, according to the state Department of Education. … Continue reading »

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