Berkeley schools win $25m from federal stimulus funds

BHS principal Pasquale Scuderi, school board member Josh Daniels, and state superintendent Tom Torlakson at the federal grant announcement/Photo: BUSD

Berkeley Unified School District received $25 million in federal Qualified School Construction Bond (QSCB) tax credits, State Superintendent for Instruction Tom Torlakson announced on Friday. The $25 million will help support Berkeley High’s new stadium and new classrooms, and construction at the West Campus.

According to BUSD spokesman Mark Coplan, Berkeley was fortunate that it had some major projects that were “more than shovel-ready, they had shovels on the ground.” Statewide, $848 million in QSCB credits were awarded.

The federal tax credits will mean that the value to the BUSD will be closer to $40 million, according to Coplan, because of the reduced interest on the district’s bonds. “This further helps us to meet the commitment to our community to find matching resources to help support our significant construction plans, and the many green aspects of the projects that are so important to our students and the Berkeley community,” said BUSD Superintendent Bill Huyett on Friday. 

Torlakson made the announcement at BHS because the school is taking advantage of the state’s High Performance Incentive grants, which provides funding for school projects that meet high environmental standards. Although the federal grants do not require green building standards, Torlakson is determined to make energy-efficient building part of California’s education system.


“It makes no sense to teach the next generation of California’s students in facilities that are relics of the past, powered by energy sources that are out of touch with our state’s renewable future,” Torlakson said on Friday. “Investing in energy efficiency will help our schools save money — now and over the long run – and show students that we’re concerned about the environment and their future.”

Torlakson announced the creation of a Schools of the Future team, with education, state, labor, and business leaders to make it easier for schools to build energy efficiency into every project, remove regulatory barriers, and identify potential funding sources.