The Berkeley School Board. Photo: Mark Coplan/BUSD
The Berkeley School Board. Photo: Mark Coplan/BUSD

The Berkeley schools Board of Education meets tonight, May 20, at 7:30 p.m. See the agenda packet here. (It’s a large file that may take time to load.)

On the agenda: 2211 Harold Way and its impacts on Berkeley High; the school budget and LCAP plans; a review of the district’s approach to enrollment and admissions; sexual harassment; a new facilities master plan, and many other items. Did you know school board members hold regular office hours? See page 6 of the agenda packet for details and contact information.

There’s also a group of parents planning to rally outside at 6:30 p.m. to call for better district efforts related to inclusive education. They write in a flier about the rally that, “for too long now, BUSD has ‘talked the talk’ on Inclusion, without walking the walk. Students are being denied help that they qualify for under the law, teachers are not being supported, and classrooms are stressed.” Another group of community members, concerned about the district’s approach to a federal complaint about sexual harassment at Berkeley High, is also planning to make its voices heard. (The board is planning to discuss that complaint during closed session.)

Action items

MASTER PLAN The board appears poised to approve the hiring of a consultant — estimated to cost $350,000 to $500,000, paid from the Measure I bond — to create a facilities master plan (page 55). The district said earlier this month (page 148) it needs the plan to address “increasing enrollment and capacity issues.” The plan would help the district prioritize renovation needs as well as new construction. If the board votes in favor, the district will put out a request for proposals, or RFP, to choose the consultant. A list of construction projects in the works appears at the end of the agenda packet (page 143). They include, among many others, gym modernization at King Middle School; a new cafeteria at Longfellow Middle School; modernization at Willard and many other sites; and a solar and modernization project at Berkeley High’s Donahue Gym. The addition of portables at LeConte, Thousand Oaks and John Muir elementary schools is also on the list.

HAROLD WAY Berkeley Unified staff would like feedback from the school board about physical environmental impacts of a proposed development at 2211 Harold Way, about a block from the eastern border of Berkeley High (page 56). The Berkeley Zoning Adjustments Board discussed the topic last week, and has asked for a more thorough and focused discussion in the Harold Way Environmental Impact Report (EIR) regarding impacts on Berkeley High School before it is considered for approval. Some community members have been upset because they say parents and students were not informed about the EIR and given a chance to comment. A consultant hired by the city to complete the EIR said notices were sent to the school district, which did not respond during the comment period.

Discussion items

ADMISSIONS AND ENROLLMENT: POLICY REVIEW The board regularly reviews its policies and is planning to discuss its approach to enrollment and admissions Wednesday night (page 110). According to the staff report, “related policies addressing both intra-district and interdistrict enrollment are also being reviewed and updated.” Those policies are slated to come before the board by the end of the school year. Jump to page 111 to read about the district’s approach to admission and residency.

LOCAL SPENDING: LCAP The district has been working on its Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) — which determines how state funding filters down to local schools (page 57). The board is set to receive a draft of that plan tonight, May 20. Staff intends to bring the final draft to the board June 10, with a formal public hearing on the LCAP budget and the district’s 2015-16 budget at that meeting. The final LCAP will be presented to the board June 24. Throughout this school year, there have been many stakeholder meetings involving parents, teachers, students and administrators to come up with the plan. The state requires local districts to track goals and progress and report on and justify spending “for all pupils, ethnic subgroups, and students with disabilities, and … specifically for low income students, English learners, and foster youth.” The district has asked the board to look at how it funds various supplemental programs for these students, and make recommendations about whether to continue them. The plan’s three main goals are high-quality instruction, safe and welcoming atmospheres for all, and to “End the racial predictability of academic achievement by ensuring that all systems are culturally and linguistically responsive to the needs of our students.”

BUDGET Deputy Superintendent Javetta Cleveland is set to give a report to the board on budget updates, following the governor’s May 14 revision to the state budget. See our last school board primer for more on the school district’s budget.

Information items

SEXUAL HARASSMENT The agenda packet includes a report (page 140) on its efforts thus far in responding to sexual harassment issues. The report was part of the May 6 agenda. Last month, the board approved an interim sexual harassment policy. Earlier this month the board considered whether to hire a full-time Title IX coordinator, with a salary of $120,000, to handle complaints, compliance and prevention efforts (page 92 and page 196). Seven district administrators are set to attend training in June to learn more about Title IX. The district described the financial impacts of its efforts related to these issues as “unknown.” Read past Berkeleyside coverage of the topic.

The next school board meeting is scheduled for June 3. Read past Berkeleyside schools coverage.

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. There is a large parking lot around the corner from Addison Street, on Browning Street.

Meetings are televised live on Berkeley Community Media channel 33, and rebroadcast the following Thursday at 9 a.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Meetings are also 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.

Read more Berkeleyside coverage related to Berkeley schools.

Students allege BUSD refused access to federal investigators over sexual harassment (05.15.15)
School Board primer: Budget priorities, facilities plan, sexual harassment, attendance (05.06.15)
School Board primer: Decision time for board on overcrowding (01.15.15)
School Board primer: Discussion of overcrowding solutions continues (12.10.14)
School Board primer: Soda tax panel, new personnel commissioner, recess restriction (11.19.14)

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Emilie Raguso (former senior editor, news) joined Berkeleyside in 2012 and covered politics, public safety and development until her departure in 2022. In 2017, Emilie was named Journalist...