Parents say the crowded elementary school needs more staff. The district says that is easier said than done.
The Berkeley School Board voted unanimously Wednesday on a two-year stop-gap solution to handle overcrowding in schools in the coming years.
Over the summer, Washington Elementary School in Berkeley got a new set of portable classrooms. The new classrooms replaced a group of portables which dated back to the 1960s, even though they were installed originally as a temporary measure. The new ones come from Berkeley High School. They were removed from there in order to complete the high school’s $46 million new construction project.
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.
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.
When the Berkeley school district added two new kindergarten classes – one to Cragmont school and one to Malcolm X — just before school began, some parents were concerned about what impact the move would have on the schools, which, they said, were neither spacious nor overstaffed. In an opinion piece published on Berkeleyside, Joshua Room, former President of the PTA at Malcolm X, asked why the district couldn’t plan ahead better. Quite a few readers agreed with him.
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.