Berkeley school board members Ty Alper, Julie Sinai won’t seek re-election

Alper and Sinai have already endorsed their picks among the candidates running for the three at-large school board seats on the ballot in November.

Ty Alper and Julie Sinai. Courtesy: Alper, Sinai

Berkeley school board directors Ty Alper and Julie Sinai won’t run for re-election in November, they told Berkeleyside.

Both have been mainstays on the school board during the last eight years.

Alper first won a seat on the board in 2014, twice serving as board president in 2017 and 2021.

“I made this decision eight years ago,” Alper said of his choice not to run again. He said he “never imagined serving more than two” terms, adding that it is customary for Berkeley school board directors to serve only twice. “Eight years is a long time and I think new blood and fresh ideas is always a good thing,” he said.

Sinai was first appointed to the board in 2013 after then-president Leah Wilson resigned. She completed Wilson’s term, which ended in 2014, and then ran for and won a seat on the board in 2018.

Sinai said she thought a lot about whether she would run again, eventually deciding that she wanted to cede the race to other candidates, who she thought would bring valuable experience to the board.

Three seats will be open on the school board this year and six candidates have so far announced they’re running, including current board president Ka’Dijah Brown, who said she will run for re-election but has not yet filed, according to city records.

(Unlike city council members, who are elected by district, candidates for school board are elected at-large, which means that every voter plays a role in electing all the board directors.)

After leaving the board, Sinai said she plans to continue her involvement in Berkeley schools. She hopes to develop partnerships between BUSD and Lifelong Medical, where she currently works as the Chief Strategy Officer. Lifelong Medical runs school-based clinics in Oakland, and Sinai said she is interested in serving the mental health of young people through her role at Lifelong.

Alper joked in a text message that he is “looking forward to transitioning from board member to gadfly.” But first he’ll have to make it through a jam-packed final six months, which will include a decision on the middle school enrollment policy, passing next year’s budget, and negotiations with the teachers union.

Sinai and Alper have already endorsed three candidates for school board: Brown; Jennifer Shanoski, an instructor at Merritt College who helped lead the campaign to pass Measures E, G, and H in 2020; and Mike Chang, an attorney with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.

The other school board candidates include Reichi Lee, an attorney serving on the board of directors at a children’s’ law office; Mara Kolesas, a professor at University of San Francisco’s Fromm Institute for Lifelong Learning and a leader in the movement to open Berkeley schools last year; and special education advocate Tatiana Guerreiro Ramos, who is the co-director of an education company that provides tutoring and other academic support.

Berkeleyside will have a more in-depth look at the school board candidates closer to Election Day.

Ally Markovich covers education for Berkeleyside. Email: ally@berkeleyside.org. Twitter: allymarkovich.