Superintendent Huyett and Principal Slemp

It’s increasingly looking like the debate over the future of science labs at Berkeley High is coming down to political maneuvering and brinkmanship.

When BUSD Superintendent Bill Huyett met BHS parents on January 19, there was a clear impression that some acceptable compromise had been reached that would both safeguard extra science lab time at the high school and find resources to improve the school’s bad achievement gap. There were suggestions that a letter would go out soon. BHS Principal Jim Slemp, who is pushing for the elimination of 0 and 7th period labs, was not at the meeting.

On January 21, Huyett did issue an alternative proposal. Huyett’s proposal suggests continuing the 0 and 7th period labs for AP and IB science classes. He also proposes extra science labs for the s0-called college prep science courses for “any student who requests it”. The plan reckons those two provisions can be accomplished with two full-time equivalent teaching posts (FTE), compared with the five used for the current system. Four FTEs will be used for “expanded course offerings”, to be determined by the high school — presumably something equivalent to Slemp’s idea of equity grants.

Fast forward to this week. The BUSD board meeting is tomorrow night, and the agenda is now available. Scroll to page 4 and a single information item:  Berkeley High School Action Plan for Re-Design in 2010-11. That’s the principal’s plan, unamended from when it emerged in December. The full plan is in the board packet (apparently: I keep getting an incomplete document when I attempt to download it). There is no alternative proposal from the superintendent, according to an email from the campaigning group Science & Equity. Further, as Slemp has maintained throughout, the item is presented to the board for information, not decision.

Is this a mistake? Is it that Slemp proved more agile at school politics than Huyett? It’s unclear right now.

  • The Science & Equity campaign is understandably up in arms. Their email, which went out this morning, calls for mass attendance at tomorrow night’s school board meeting, which begins at 7:30 p.m. It goes on to state: “Tell the school board just how tired you are of being yanked around by a Principal who disregards parents, and an SGC that is unfair, packed with small school teachers, and out of compliance with state law.”

Any Berkeleyside readers who attend the board meeting tomorrow night are encouraged to send in their reports.

Catch up on the story so far with Berkeleyside’s coverage:

Endangered science at Berkeley High School [12.11.09]
Science at BHS: An open letter [12.14.09]
Science and equity: BHS parents weigh in [12.16.09]
BHS Board meeting dominated by science issue [12.17.09]
The BHS science flap — the ripples are spreading [12.30.09]
BHS science/equity debate: The latest [1.06.10]
Next on the BHS agenda: Meeting with superintendent [1.11.10]
Listen live now to BHS science flap on KQED [1.13.10]
When Huyett met the BHS PTSA [1.20.10]
L.A. Times reports on BHS science lab issue [1.25.10]

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Lance Knobel (Berkeleyside co-founder) has been a journalist for nearly 40 years. Much of his career was in business journalism. He was editor-in-chief of both Management Today, the leading business magazine...