Tag Archives: Rosa Parks Elementary School


Berkeley School Board primer: Decision time for board on overcrowding

BUSD is dropping effort to establish community school at the Berkeley Adult School. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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The Berkeley schools Board of Education meets tonight, Jan. 14, for a closed session at 6 p.m., followed by its regular meeting at 7:30 p.m. See the Jan. 14 agenda packet here. (It’s a large file that may take time to load.)

The board is expected to decide how to handle overcrowding in the schools in the coming three years.

Closed session

The meeting begins at 6 p.m. with a closed session to discuss recruitment for a Berkeley High principal, the superintendent’s performance evaluation and litigation. The board does not always get to all items on the closed session agenda. Public comment, up to 15 minutes, will be taken before the closed session.

Action items

The final part of a four-part discussion on enrollment and capacity is scheduled (p. 51 of the meeting packet). Berkeley schools’ enrollment is expected to increase by about 250 students in the next three years. Over the past three months the school board has considered about a dozen options to accommodate more students. Read past coverage here.  … Continue reading »

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Berkeley’s West Branch library to re-open in December

Berkeley's West Branch Library under construction. Photo: Eli Wolfe
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Construction continues at a brisk pace at Berkeley’s West Branch Library, which is scheduled to re-open in December, after the holidays.

The completion of the West Branch, which is located at 1125 University Ave. (at San Pablo), will mark the end of a four-year overhaul of Berkeley’s branch libraries. Voters passed a $26 million bond measure in 2008 to fund the Branch Library Improvement program. The North and Claremont libraries were re-opened in 2012, and the South Branch was re-opened in May.

The West Branch, like the South Branch, had to be completely demolished and rebuilt. The new 9,300-square-foot library has been built to improve seismic safety and make it fully ADA-accessible. The library has been designed as a Net Zero Energy building to meet LEED criteria. Services in the library have been expanded and enhanced. … Continue reading »

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Remembering science education advocate Karen Meyer

Karen Meyer
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Science education advocate and community volunteer Karen Marie Meyer died in her West Berkeley home on Wednesday, Aug. 14, after battling brain cancer. She was 45.

Karen graduated from UC Berkeley in 1991 and soon after began working with Dr. Isabel Hawkins of UC Berkeley’s Space Science Laboratory. While at SSL and in partnership NASA, Karen co-founded and served as manager of the Sun-Earth Connection Education effort and the project manager for the Energy from the Sun project. Most recently, Karen worked as an education project manager for MAVEN, the spacecraft satellite slated to arrive on Mars in November 2013. … 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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Berkeley’s Rosa Parks students have their day in court

Bailiff Jack Egawa swears in witness Kaila Lenrow. Photo: Drew Goetting.
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If you’ve never heard of the trial of Timmy McGraw, don’t consider yourself uninformed. McGraw vs. The People was a local, low-profile case of vandalism and mistaken identity. There were no life-changing revelations, the defendant was ruled not guilty and the parties parted amicably. Oh, and the lawyers, bailiff and witnesses were all aged 10 or 11 years old.

Ty Alper, a clinical law professor at UC Berkeley, was the driving force behind the mock trial on June 13 conducted by fifth graders at Rosa Parks Elementary School. (Watch the video of the trial embedded below to see how the kids performed.)

Alper and his colleague, James Stevens, trained the students who volunteered for the trial, wrote McGraw vs. the People, and supervised the trial as it unfolded in the courthouse. Why? Because, said Alper, having 10- and 11-year-olds participate in a mock trial would expose them to the lawyer’s world, introduce them to public speaking and be fun to boot. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley offers free summer lunches, snacks for youth

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Berkeley is facilitating free lunches and snacks for under-18-year-olds this summer at locations across the city.

In the Berkeley Unified School District, 42 percent of students receive free or reduced lunch during the school year, which is easily accessible when school is in session but can become difficult to find during the summer. City Councilwoman Linda Maio recently sent an email to her district asking her constituents to spread the word about the free summer lunch program.

Berkeleyside has created a map, above, that shows where the lunches are distributed. Below is a list of the dates and locations of the free lunch and snack programs. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley school recycling gets back on track

A third-grade monitor at Oxford Elementary helps a classmate figure out what gets composted and what goes into the trash. Photo: Green Schools Initiative
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Berkeley schools are making a renewed commitment to recycling and composting after efforts slacked off over the past five years.

This year, a local non-profit, Green Schools Initiative, has worked with eight Berkeley schools, revitalizing recycling and composting programs. Green Schools was just awarded a grant for next year, so it can work with another eight schools in the fall.

According to Deborah Moore, executive director of Green Schools Initiative, recycling and composting are not only good for reducing landfill and greenhouse gases – they can also reduce the district’s spending.

“The Berkeley school district has potential to be saving $50,000 a year out of about $350,000 spent on trash pickup,” Moore said.  … Continue reading »

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Rosa Parks chickens found dead, buried on campus

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Two chickens that were stolen from an outdoor coop at Rosa Parks Elementary School earlier this month were found dead and buried in the school yard Tuesday, according to the school’s garden teacher.

Tanya Stiller wrote Berkeleyside late Tuesday afternoon with the update: “I just found the two chickens. They were killed, and buried on top of each other in the garden. I saw what looked like the back of a bird sticking up in a spot where neighboring cats sometimes do their dirty business. It looked like a cat had been scratching there, probably uncovering what it could smell. There was an old wooden garden sign, that kinda looked like a cross next to it. Clearly there was remorse.”

The chickens, named Chip and Daisy, were removed from an outdoor coop sometime during the first weekend of June, Stiller told Berkeleyside last week. They were part of a group of five chickens Stiller had been using as part of her curriculum to teach students about the birds’ life cycle. … Continue reading »

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Thief steals 2 school chickens from Rosa Parks campus

The Rosa Parks Elementary School chickens one day after they were born in April. The two lighter-colored chicks, in the back left corner, were the ones that were stolen. (One of them is hard to spot and appears more like a blur.) Photo: Tanya Stiller
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The Rosa Parks Elementary School community is asking for the safe return of two of its five chickens, which were stolen over the weekend just days after they were moved from a science classroom into an outdoor coop that’s visible from Eighth Street.

Garden teacher Tanya Stiller, known around campus as “Farmer Tanya,” said she discovered the theft Monday when she was heading outside to the chicken coop during a school solar fair.

“I ran into a science teacher who asked me, ‘What happened to the other two chickens, did you give them to somebody?’ I said, ‘What, they’re not there?’ I was pretty shocked, as were other people,” she said Wednesday evening. … Continue reading »

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Rosa Parks Elementary flips the switch for solar power

Fifth grade students from Rosa Parks flick the switch to activate the new solar installation. Photo: Lance Knobel
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Rosa Parks Elementary School became Berkeley’s fifth solar school on Monday when students flicked a switch to activate a new rooftop installation of solar cells.

According to Pauline Follansbee, fiscal services director for Berkeley Unified School District, the Rosa Parks solar project will save $50,000 in utility costs over the next five years. She said the five schools together save the district around $100,000 a year.

“We have a focus on environmental science,” said Rosa Parks Principal Paco Furlan. “It’s real learning in action to have the solar panels.”  … Continue reading »

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Berkeley school dominates regional math competition

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Fifth grade students from Rosa Parks Elementary School in West Berkeley took home four of the top ten spots in a regional math competition Saturday, besting a field of more than 90 students from public and private elementary schools throughout the Bay Area. Rosa Parks student Ben Roberts took home the top prize, a Kindle Fire HD.

The Ninth Annual MathMatters contest was held in Oakland at Bay Tech High School on Nov. 17.  The contest is held annually in five different states and, according to its website, aims to “stimulate interest and achievement in mathematics among elementary school students and to provide recognition of outstanding young mathematicians, their dedicated teachers, and schools.”

Five girls and five boys from Rosa Parks participated in the competition, answering 15 challenging math problems in only 30 minutes. To prepare, the Rosa Parks students had voluntarily given up recess three days a week for a month to practice with Mary Martin, a Rosa Parks fifth grade teacher who served as their coach. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley schools show gains on standard tests

MLK School
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The California Department of Education yesterday released its 2012 Accountability Progress Report, which show significant gains for Berkeley schools on both the state Annual Performance Index (API) and the federal Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). (Details of both district and individual school results for API and AYP can be seen on the state’s Accountability Progress Reporting site.)

Berkeley Unified School District had an overall growth of 19 points for a district-wide API of 810. Each of Berkeley’s elementary and middle schools exceeded the statewide API target of 800 or above. Berkeley High School, which went years without having enough students take the test to get an API, had a 19-point growth for a school API of 734, which was above the school’s target growth for the year. Only 30% of high schools in California exceeded an API of 800.

“I think these results are evidence that Berkeley is on the right track, that we’re making a difference for our kids,” said Co-Superintendent Neil Smith. “I think particularly looking at achievement all across elementary reading was a real strength for the district. Where we still have a lot of work to do is the high school.”  … Continue reading »

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School edible programs get reprieve from the feds

Photo: Students shuck corn at the Edible Schoolyard in Berkeley.
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As the academic year winds to a close this week there is welcome news for next year. Schools are to get a one-year reprieve on the funding front from the federal government for the gardening and cooking programs at three of Berkeley Unified School District‘s elementary schools.

Earlier in the year it was feared that the schools — Malcolm XRosa Parks, and Washington  — were going to lose these federal funds, due to failure to meet existing guidelines that require a school to have at least 50% of its students enrolled in the free and reduced-lunch programs.

In April — following a series of school board meetings where parents and community members made an impassioned case for the importance of keeping such curricula — the BUSD Board voted to authorize funding up to $350,000 for edible programs at the three elementary schools in question for the following year.

Now comes word that won’t be necessary. The Network for a Healthy California, the state program that administers the federal monies to local school districts, recently informed the BUSD of its intention to extend the funding for an additional year, according to Leah Sokolofski, program supervisor for the BUSD Cooking and Garden Nutrition Program. The scope of work and budget must remain the same at each school, and no additional schools will be able to use the funds, noted Sokolofski in an email sent to school principals on Tuesday. … Continue reading »

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