The Berkeley Unified School District Board of Education. Photo: Mark Coplan/BUSD
The Berkeley Unified School District Board of Education. Photo: Mark Coplan/BUSD

The Berkeley schools Board of Education meets tonight, Sept. 30. On the consent calendar: a contract to hire a restorative justice consultant to work with Berkeley High’s most at-risk students.

Two discussion items will focus on the local tax known as the Berkeley Schools Excellence Program, which is set to come before voters for an update in November 2016. Also up for discussion, the district’s Local Control and Accountability Plan, and the plan’s goals. The board is also set to discuss again the Berkeley City Council’s request to use the board’s meeting room to get out of its own seismically unsafe quarters.

The board is slated to receive an informational update on its facilities plan, too. 

The regular meeting is set to begin by 7:30 p.m. Public comment is limited to 30 minutes, with a 3-minute limit per speaker. Public comment takes place at the beginning and end of the meeting, rather than in response to each item. See the full agenda packet here.

RESTORATIVE JUSTICE CONSULTANT HIRED The district is hiring a consultant trained in restorative justice practices to work with Berkeley High’s most at-risk students and “provide intensive mentoring” to students “who are often at the center of conflict on campus.”

David (Ta-Biti) Gibson worked last year for the Oakland Unified School District at Edna Brewer Middle School as a restorative justice coordinator.

According to the staff report, “Due to BHS’s recent challenges with ‘clique’ or ‘gang’ scenarios which carry violent possibilities, Mr. Gibson will also focus his work on youth involved in gangs and multi-city / multi-school violence. Mr. Gibson will work to build relationships with involved area youth, some of which are part of the BHS community.”

Gibson’s duties will include student, staff and parent “harm circles”; one-on-one case-management and home visits; and parent communication. He also plans to develop a team of peer mediators called “Circle Keepers” who will be “charged with the duty of getting acquainted, developing action plans, addressing issues thus building relationships across campus.”

Gibson’s work will focus primarily on community building this year, according to the staff report. He’ll also help input and track disciplinary data, “so the school can engage in cycles of inquiry to gauge the effectiveness of positive school climate strategies.”

His $65,000 fee will be paid through LCAP and BSEP, if approved Wednesday night on the consent calendar.

“As conflict has its own schedule, Mr. Gibson will be on-site daily and into the evening providing prep, follow-up and home visits when necessary,” according to the staff report.

The district says it will assess Gibson’s efforts later in the year to consider whether to create a full-time position focused on restorative justice efforts.

“Mr. Gibson’s work will be used in tandem with existing school personnel and resources to reduce disproportionality among suspensions issued to student groups, to reduce overall suspensions, to provide documentable alternatives in lieu of suspension,” according to the report.

Discussion items

NEW BSEP TAX The district is in the planning stages for a November 2016 tax measure to raise money for Berkeley schools. The tax has been around since 1986 and, according to the staff report, “has made a significant difference in the quality of our schools and the fiscal stability” of the district. The tax helps pay for “key elements of our District’s educational programs, including lower class sizes, libraries, music, school enrichment/discretionary funds, technology, professional development, program evaluation, public information, translation, and parent outreach.”

The tax provides about 20% of the district’s “combined General Revenue, and funds one-third of the District’s classroom teachers. BSEP revenues projected for FY 2015-16 are $24,920,954.”

The current measure expires at the end of fiscal year 2016-17, and the update is set to come before voters Nov. 8, 2016. The board has been receiving reports on the planning process for the new measure since March 2014.

The district has planned a workshop for Oct. 22 set to include several specialized groups related to the planning process: the Superintendent’s Cabinet, the Budget Models Group, professors at UCB in the School of Education and the Goldman School for Public Policy, and the district-wide BSEP Planning and Oversight (P&O) Committee. A community budget workshop is slated to take place in late February “with wide publicity to Berkeley parents, students, staff and voters.”

The district is in the process of polling the community through an outside firm, and that process is set to continue through early spring.

Read much more detail about the BSEP tax in the agenda packet, as a PDF or online.

LCAP GOAL PROGRESS The board is scheduled to take another look at its Local Control and Accountability Plan, a state-mandated framework “for addressing state priorities and local goals, identifying the most effective actions and services to meet those goals, as well as accounting for the Local Control Funding Formula supplemental expenditures and the indicators for monitoring progress.” The district has identified three main priorities under the plan. As described in the staff report, these priorities are to provide high quality classroom instruction and curriculum that promote college and career readiness with academic interventions in place to eliminate barriers to student success; end the racial predictability of academic achievement by ensuring that all systems are culturally and linguistically responsive to the needs of our students; and ensure all school sites have safe, welcoming and inclusive climates for all students and their families, so that all students are in their classes ready to learn. It looked at the first goal earlier this month, and is now set to look at the other two. See the staff report.

COUNCIL WANTS TO MOVE TO BONAR The Berkeley City Council hopes to move its meetings to the school district board room at 2020 Bonar St. Council’s regular meeting location, at Old City Hall on Martin Luther King Jr. Way, is seismically unsafe. Council has been looking for a new space for years but has not yet found a suitable location. At its June 23 meeting, council passed a resolution to ask the district to use its board room on a pilot basis from Sept. 15 through Nov. 17. The city has looked into alternative meeting spots, but agreed in June that its best short-term option would be the school district’s board room.

Last week, Sept. 24, BUSD met with the city to discuss the proposed contract for the agreement. There was also a community meeting for neighbors, council members and school board members, but it was sparsely attended. District staff has asked for direction from the board regarding the council request. Read more about the reasons for the proposed move in past Berkeleyside coverage.

Otherwise of note

FACILITIES PLAN UPDATE The board is set to receive an update from Timothy White, who’s in charge of the school district’s facilities. The report summarizes all construction projects that are currently underway.

AFTER-SCHOOL PROGRAM STAFFING There’s just one action item on the Sept. 30 agenda: a request for more staffing for district after-school programs (Item 12.1).

The next school board meeting is scheduled for Oct. 14. Read past Berkeleyside schools coverage.

Meeting details

The BUSD Headquarters on Bonar Street. Photo: Kaia Diringer
BUSD headquarters. Photo: Kaia Diringer

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. They are also streamed live, and posted online after the meeting. Other BUSD-related videos are posted online at Vimeo.

Read more Berkeleyside coverage related to Berkeley schools. See the full agenda packet here.

Berkeley Technology Academy starts semester with record low enrollment (09.24.15)
Vandalism, crime cause problems at Allston Way Garage (09.21.15)
Authorities respond to 2 incidents at Malcolm X School (09.21.15)
Berkeley schools on alert after 2 abduction attempts (09.18.15)
BHS Stop Harassing takes campaign to Berkeley council (09.18.15)
School Board Primer: Projects over budget at King and Willard; district priorities, finances (09.09.15)
Photo Gallery: First days back at school in Berkeley (09.04.15)
City Council seeks to move meetings to West Berkeley (09.02.15)
Berkeley’s 16 schools welcome students back for new year, Pasarow starts as BHS principal (09.02.15)
School Board primer: B-Tech review, council asks to move to Bonar, more (08.26.15)

Get the latest Berkeley news in your inbox with Berkeleyside’s free Daily Briefing. And make sure to bookmark Berkeleyside’s pages on Facebook and Twitter. You don’t need an account on those sites to view important information.

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 of the Year...