The Berkeley School Board, at its August meeting. Photo: Mark Coplan/BUSD
The Berkeley School Board, at an August meeting. Photo: Mark Coplan/BUSD
The Berkeley School Board, at an August meeting. Photo: Mark Coplan/BUSD

The Berkeley schools Board of Education meets tonight (Wednesday, Oct. 22) for a closed session at 6 p.m., followed by its regular meeting at 7:30 p.m.  Follow along via the Oct. 22 agenda packet.

The board is scheduled to approve a contract for a staff union that has been under negotiation for three years. The board will also approve new compensation levels for classified staff, based on comparisons with similar districts.

In addition, the board will discuss reports on indicators of student progress and adult-school benchmarks.

Closed session

The board will begin its Wednesday meeting at 6 p.m. with a closed session to discuss collective bargaining and the evaluation of Superintendent Donald Evans. Public comment, up to 15 minutes, will be taken prior to the closed session. Details are on page 1 of the regular packet.

Action items

The board is set to approve a contract with the Berkeley Council of Classified Employees (agenda packet page 50), a union of 570 classified employees (non-teachers). After mediation between the union and the district failed in July, the two groups went before a fact-finding panel.

The contract includes a 2.5% pay increase retroactive to July 1, 2013 and another 2% increase dating to this past July 1. Health care costs will increase .5% (one-half a percent) on Jan. 1. The tentative agreement also addressed family medical leave and transfers, including definition of a transfer, posting transfers, voluntary and involuntary transfers.

In addition, the board will receive a report that sets new pay scales for BUSD classified employees (agenda packet p. 69), based on comparisons to similar districts. Some employees will receive raises, but no one will get paid less, said Mark Coplan, BUSD public information officer. It’s been 12 years since the district last evaluated compensation for this group, Coplan said.

Discussion items

The board is scheduled to receive a 15-minute presentation on indicators of student progress. The report looks at absence rates and suspensions for African American students, which have gone down over the past four years. A discussion of 45 minutes is budgeted.

Benchmarks for students at the adult school will be the focus of a 10-minute presentation and a 20-minute discussion, and there will be a 5-minute report on forming a task force on physical activity and wellness for high school students, followed by 15 minutes of discussion.

Meeting details

The Berkeley Unified School District Board of Education generally meets twice monthly on Wednesdays at 2020 Bonar St. The entrance to the board chambers is around the corner on Addison Street. See the schedule and agendas here. Meetings are televised on local cable Channel 33 and aired live on the radio at KPFB 89.3 FM.

Basic information about the school board is posted on its website. Board videos are posted online at Vimeo, and photographs from board meetings are posted on Flickr. Read more about the School Board on the BUSD website.

Other school district news

The next of the four board discussions on enrollment and capacity is scheduled for Nov. 5. At the board’s Oct. 8 meeting, it was reported that enrollment in Berkeley schools is expected to increase by 252 students by 2018. While 11 classrooms appear to be available in elementary schools, some of those are not suitable (ie: located in basements), and all are being used for other purposes, such as art, science, dance, and special education. The next meeting on enrollment will address possible solutions to overcrowding.

Read more Berkeleyside coverage related to Berkeley schools.

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Mary Flaherty is a freelance reporter who has lived in the Berkeley area for since 1994. She earned a masters in journalism from UC Berkeley, and has reported for several local papers and copyedited for...