Tag Archives: Washington Elementary School

Time-lapse video: A Berkeley school gets new classrooms

The new portables are on Washington’s annex campus on McKinley St., across from the school’s main campus
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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.

The decision to replace very old portables with seven less-old portables on Washington’s annex campus on McKinley St., across from the school’s main campus, was not popular with many Washington parents who say an underlying problem not being addressed by the district is overcrowding at the elementary 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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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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Portable classroom plan at Berkeley schools delayed

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A school district proposal to replace decades-old portable classrooms at Berkeley’s Washington Elementary and Berkeley Arts Magnet schools with a set of newer ones that are being removed from the Berkeley High campus, has been delayed for further consideration after concerns were expressed by parents at the schools.

At Wednesday night’s BUSD Board meeting, it was agreed that the plan (some of the details of which can be viewed here), that had originally been slated for approval on June 12, would be rescheduled to the Sept. 9 school board meeting.

The portables at BAM and Washington were installed in the lates 1960s as a temporary measure. In the latter case, they form Washington’s annex campus on McKinley St. across from the school’s main campus. The decision to switch them out with the BHS portables, which are 4-5  years’ old, was taken in 2011 as part of a system replacements plan funded by the 2010 $210m Measure I bond measure. … 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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Crime

After robbery, police arrest youths with gun near school

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Berkeley police have arrested three juveniles who reportedly used a gun in a robbery near Washington Elementary School on Tuesday evening, according to authorities.

Berkeley Police spokeswoman officer Jennifer Coats said police received a call at about 5:40 p.m. on Feb. 26 reporting a person with a gun in the 1800 block of University Avenue, between Grant Street and Martin Luther King. (Washington school is located at 2300 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, opposite the Berkeley High School campus.) Coats said police received additional information that three people had been involved in a robbery, and that they had stolen a cell phone from a male victim then fled.

“A description was broadcast and officers immediately responded to the area to attempt to locate the described subjects,” she said, via email. … 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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Berkeley district votes to fund at-risk edible programs

Edible schoolyard Malcolm X
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Late last night, the Berkeley Unified School District School Board voted to authorize funding up to $350,000 for three elementary schools — Malcolm XRosa Parks, and Washington — that were in danger of losing their gardening and cooking programs for the next school year.

The move came as welcome news for all those involved in the programs and anyone who champions teaching children to eat, grow, and cook their greens.

“The Board showed a remarkable commitment to edible education by continuing to fund the garden and cooking programs at Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, and Washington next year,” said Leah Sokolofski, who supervises the program for the district. “The decision is dependent on the district receiving Network for a Healthy California funding. We are still waiting for more information to be released about the Network funding. The district’s current Network contract continues through September 30, 2012.” … Continue reading »

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Community seeks life support for school edible programs

The end of salad days for BUSD students? Photos: Rivka Mason
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This week, Berkeley parents and community members rallied to find ways to secure funds to save the gardening and cooking programs at three local elementary schools.

The programs at Malcolm XRosa Parks, and Washington, whose combined budgets are  $372,000, are threatened because, under existing guidelines, the schools no longer qualify for federal monies as they have fewer than 50% of their students enrolled in the free and reduced-lunch program.

At a meeting at Malcolm X on Monday night, about two dozen people representing the three schools and the South Berkeley community hashed out ideas to find money in the short-term — and discussed the bigger-picture concern of making these programs sustainable,  as well as available to all BUSD students over the long haul. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley school gardening, cooking programs face cuts

Sharing the pleasures of an outdoor table: The delicious revolution at Malcolm X.
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Three of Berkeley Unified School District‘s elementary schools — Malcolm XRosa Parks, and Washington — are in jeopardy of losing their entire cooking and gardening program funds beginning in October this year.

Under existing guidelines, the schools will no longer qualify for federal funding because they have fewer than 50% of their students enrolled in the free and reduced-lunch program, according to Leah Sokolofski, who supervises the program for the district.

Berkeley has an international reputation for its edible schoolyards, where public school children of all economic means learn what it takes to grow a radish and sauté some chard. Such funding cuts to the program, whose total budget is $1.94 million a year, would represent a significant setback in the city’s pioneering efforts to date.

School gardening and cooking champion Alice Waters, whose Chez Panisse Foundation helped fund the Edible Schoolyard at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School, expressed dismay at the potential budget cuts to programs. “It’s inevitable cuts will come — people think these programs are dispensable and the state of California is in a financial crisis — but it’s a tragedy,” she said. … Continue reading »

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BPEF honors three Berkeley teachers and volunteer group

Kim Laurance and Hilary Mitchell
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Three Berkeley school teachers and a parent-run educational support organization were honored Friday at the Berkeley Public Education Fund‘s annual fundraising spring luncheon. The event, which was attended by more than 450 supporters, raised over $180,000 for Berkeley’s public schools.

Hilary Mitchell and Kim Laurance, respectively 5th and 1st grade teachers at Washington Elementary School, were named “Distinguished Educators” at the event. Since 2005, Mitchell and Laurance have led their teaching peers in the Collaborative Active Research for Equity (CARE) program which focuses on equity and culturally relevant teaching strategies in the classroom.

According to Washington’s principal, Rita Kimball, the pair have inspired a collegial and dynamic teaching environment at Washington and their work has had an impact in raising test scores above expectations for all children. Accepting the award, Laurance said that she was inspired by the connections she had made with the children she teaches, especially the African Amercian and Latino kids. “They teach us how to teach them better,” she said. … Continue reading »

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