BUSD headquarters on Bonar Street. Photo: Kaia Diringer
BUSD headquarters on Bonar St.: the board has posted an application for a new director to replace Leah Wilson. Photo: Kaia Diringer

Berkeley Unified School District’s board Wednesday night agreed on the procedure to appoint a replacement director for Leah Wilson, who resigned earlier this month. The board has posted an application for directors on its website, with responses due by April 15. The board plans to make an appointment at a special May 1 meeting, with the regular board meeting on May 8 as a fallback in case agreement can’t be reached.

The Berkeley city charter allows the board make an appointment within 60 days of a vacancy occurring. After that point, the County Supervisor can order a special election. 

Applicants for the vacant directorship are asked to answer nine questions, each in 200 words or less:

  1. Why do you want to be a School Board Director?
  2. What strengths would you bring to the School Board?
  3. What are your three top priorities for Berkeley public schools?
  4. How would you work with your fellow Board members and Superintendent to address these priorities?
  5. How does your experience and knowledge lend itself to promoting the District goals of addressing the opportunity gap and the 2020 Vision?
  6. What are the greatest assets and strengths of BUSD?
  7. What do you see as your primary role and responsibilities as a School Board Director?
  8. How does an effective School Board ensure opportunities for families and community members to express a diverse range of views to inform Board deliberations on important policy issues?
  9. What has been your involvement with public schools and/or in the community?

Once applications have been filed, the interim co-superintendents Javetta Cleveland and Neil Smith will provide an alphabetical list of applicants and their applications. The four elected directors will reply with those candidates they feel should be finalists — candidates who are supported by at least two of the directors become finalists, subject to a vote of the board at its April 24 meeting.

At the special May 1 board meeting, each finalist has three minutes for a speech. The newly appointed director will serve out Wilson’s term, which expires next year.

The school board also elected Karen Hemphill to complete Wilson’s term as president of the board, a position which rotates among the BUSD board directors.

During the day on Wednesday, the school board started interviewing shortlisted candidates for the long-vacant superintendent position. According to one director, the board is still on target to make an appointment in the next month.

Berkeley school board president Wilson resigns [03.18.13]
School budget ‘cautiously positive’ despite challenges [03.13.13]
Berkeley teachers’ bonus plan rebuffed by district [03.07.13]
School board launches new superintendent search [02.13.13]
Fight relaunched to save school nutrition programs [11.19.12]
Berkeley schools show gains on standard tests [10.12.12]

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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...