Kindergarteners line up on Wednesday to enter Ms. Maida’s classroom at Emerson Elementary School. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
Kindergarteners line up on Wednesday to enter Ms. Maida’s classroom at Emerson Elementary School. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel

School started Wednesday for more than 9,400 students in Berkeley’s 11 elementary schools, three middle schools, and two high schools.

At Emerson Elementary School, students lined up on the playground in their class configurations and gave a big cheer of E-M-E-R-S-O-N, Emerson!, before entering their new classrooms.

2012-13 will be a year of transition for the district. The administration moved into new headquarters on Bonar Street in mid-August, and saw the retirement of Superintendent Bill Huyett a few days later. The search for a replacement has taken longer than expected, and the school board last week appointed two interim superintendents, both current administrators, to temporarily oversee the district. They are Javetta Cleveland, Deputy Superintendent, and Neil Smith, Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services.

Ms. Maida talks to her new Kindergarten students on Wednesday morning. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel

The teachers in the district will be seeing a 1% bonus in their October paychecks, and school board members hope to provide some other reward to staff in the future.

Students going to Berkeley High will spend their year in a construction zone as the Old Gymnasium was torn down this summer to make way for a new $30.4 million structure with 15 classrooms, a soft gym and a 4,000 square foot fitness center. Students should also see the completion of a new $9 million football stadium with 2,200 bleacher seats, a press box, athletic offices and locker rooms.

Construction has also started on baseball, softball, and soccer fields at the new Derby Field Project at Martin Luther King and Derby Street, all part of  $48 million in enhancements to Berkeley High alone.

The district will soon spend another $7.7 million to remodel Jefferson Elementary School. It will also build a new $2 million board room for meetings at the West Campus. In total, the school district is spending about $85 million for new facilities. The funds are coming from Measures A, AA, and I, passed by Berkeley voters.

The classroom settles in. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel

Two interim superintendents to take reins at BUSD [08.16.12]
Berkeley school district settles into new headquarters [08.14.12]
Historic Berkeley High old gym makes way for the new [06.28.12]
What does Berkeley want from its new schools head? [03.14.12]
Berkeley schools superintendent Bill Huyett to retire [12.06.11]

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Frances Dinkelspiel, Berkeleyside and CItyside co-founder, is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman...