The Berkeley School Board, at its August meeting. Photo: Mark Coplan/BUSD
The Berkeley School Board, at an August 2014 meeting. Photo: Mark Coplan/BUSD
The Berkeley School Board, at an August 2014 meeting. Photo: Mark Coplan/BUSD

The Berkeley schools Board of Education meets tonight (Wednesday, Nov. 5) for a closed session at 6 p.m., followed by its regular meeting at 7:30 p.m.  Follow along via the Nov. 5 agenda packet.

The board will discuss possible solutions to overcrowding in the schools and will hear the first draft of a policy on using recess restriction as a punishment. The board will also hear presentations on emergency preparedness and planning for the BSEP ballot measure in 2016.

There are no action items on the agenda; the board will not be voting on anything.

Closed session

The meeting will begin Wednesday at 6 p.m. with a closed session to discuss anticipated litigation, the high school principal position, and evaluation of Superintendent Donald Evans (p. 1 of the agenda). Public comment, up to 15 minutes, will be taken prior to the closed session.

Discussion items

Part 2 the four-part discussion on enrollment and capacity is scheduled. The board will hear a 20-minute presentation addressing possible solutions to overcrowding, followed by a 40-minute discussion. The proposals can be viewed in the board packet online (pp. 47-73).

At the board’s Oct. 8 meeting, it was reported that enrollment in Berkeley schools is expected to increase by 252 students by 2018.

The board will also hear a new recess restriction policy (pp. 74-77). This is a first reading; the board will not take action on approving a policy until a later meeting, allowing for feedback from the community. Under a 1981 addition to state education code, all districts need a policy in order to restrict or shorten recess as a punishment. The Berkeley district has not had a policy in place. A group of parents, citing a recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics, is arguing that recess should never be restricted as a punishment.

In addition, the board will hear a 15-minute presentation on emergency preparedness (pp. 78-81), followed by a 15-minute discussion, and the board will get a 15-minute update on the planning for the BSEP ballot measure in 2016 (pp. 82-87).

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 recorded for radio and played after the meeting on KPFB 89.3 FM.

Board videos are posted online at Vimeo several days after the meetings, and photographs from board meetings are posted on Flickr.

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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...