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2014 Election - Candidates Answers Summary

This is a summary of the 2014 Candidates response to the questions for Berkeley PTA Candidates Night event. The question to see the answers are organized alphabetically by last name. Click on the question to view complete answers by all the candidates.

[NOTE: Answers for Questions 12 and 13 for Julie Sinai were not entered correctly; we have fixed them as of 10/28/2014 and apologize to Director Sinai for the mistake]

  • Ty Alper

    Yes. My wife Tamar and I have three children attending Berkeley public schools: two sons at Rosa Parks Elementary and a daughter at Longfellow Middle School.
    I have emphasized in this campaign that, in addition to being the only educator who is running for school board, I am the only candidate with children currently in the Berkeley schools. Tamar and I will soon have one child in an elementary school, one in a middle school, and one at Berkeley High, and we’ll be BUSD parents for 11 more years.
    I don’t believe every member of the Board has to be a current BUSD parent, and certainly every Board member brings different experiences to the table. But when you are a current BUSD parent, you are in the schools constantly, talking with parents, teachers, students, and principals. You see the homework that comes home. You go to PTA meetings and back-to-school nights. You experience overcrowding. You attend sessions such as “Common Core math for parents.” You have a perspective and a voice that should be heard in School Board discussions and decisions about District policy.

  • Josh Daniels

    I have one son who will be 2 years old in December. As such he will start Transitional Kindergarten in three years. I grew up in Berkeley and attended Washington Elementary (K-3), Berkwood Hedge (4-6), Willard Junior (now Middle) School, and Berkeley High School.

  • Norma J F Harrison

    No

  • Karen Hemphill

    I have 2 sons – now a sophomore and senior in college respectively - that have been through elementary, middle as well as high school in our public schools. Given that our high school remains are biggest challenge in terms of providing a consistent and equitable education to our students, having very recent experience as a high school parent and being a parent of African American sons I believe I have a deep understanding of these challenges.

  • Julie Sinai

    I have two children who were educated in the Berkeley public schools. My youngest just graduated in June 2014 and my oldest graduated in 2010. They both went to Rosa Parks. My son, the older one, continued to King Middle School and my daughter went to Longfellow. They both graduated from BHS.

  • Ty Alper

    The primary role of the PTA should be to foster strong working relationships between students, parents, teachers, and school administration, in order to better serve the school’s students. The PTA is the bridge between the professionals working in the schools and the families who have children in the schools. The bridge allows for increased communication, connectedness, acknowledgements of things done well, and space to discuss changes that need to occur. In Berkeley, as in many other communities affected by steep funding cuts to public education, the PTA also takes on a fundraising role that is “above and beyond” what should ideally be the responsibility of the parent community. Nevertheless, funds raised by PTAs at our school sites do provide critical resources that directly impact student learning, and sometimes teacher learning and professional development as well.

  • Josh Daniels

    One of the primary roles of the PTA is to be an independent voice for families. (While SGCs also provide an opportunity for families to express their voices, it is more focused and limited given the structure of SGCs.) As that independent voice, PTAs provide both support and accountability for school administrations. A strong PTA is extremely important for the success of our students and to ensure that the school-level and district-level decisions are open, transparent, and legitimate in the eyes of the school community.
    Of course, because of the lack of state support for education, another primary role for PTAs has been to provide financial assistant to the schools. As I have heard from talking both at the PTA Council and at school PTAs, that this financial support funds core educational services. Even though education is still woefully underfunded, the District is receiving “new” funds. (I write “new” in quotes because the “new” funding is only intended to restore us to 2007-08 funding levels.) It is imperative that with these new funds that the District take on more core educational services and free up PTA funds.

  • Norma J F Harrison

    I prefer that along with its customary work to maintain the teaching program, it work using the analyses and goals I’ve described in one of my flyers and in my on-line ‘book’: School Is The Opposite Of Education, by Norma J F Harrison, a study to release us from our confinement http://normajfharrison.wordpress.com

    The flyer: Norma J F Harrison for Berkeley School Director (school board) I have studied ‘education’ for 70 years. I’ve seen over and over the futility of the constant, always unsuccessful reform efforts.The reforms do not, cannot! begin to rectify the inadequacy that school is. The problem is school itself. The artificiality of school lessons, classes, is felt as insults by all concerned: students, teachers, and their families and communities, by forcing age-segregated routinization formations in place of self-respecting participation in society. Lesson plans, which are required, are, as time allows, inspected by overseers. They are, Common Core notwithstanding (same ol’), to presuppose students’ interests, and their abilities. Teachers are to tell themselves as well as the subjects, ‘students’ and parents, that the lessons are relevant for them, whether they are or not; that the lessons are time-appropriate, whether the student wants to study that lesson then or not.

    The plans are actually to justify externally imposed classroom requirements; – classrooms created as a place for teachers and staff to earn a living, and for children to be warehoused as labor waiting until some artificially determined time to become a full participant in society.
    These deformities have to come under discussion in order for us to begin to grasp together, the direction in which our struggle needs to go.

    Continually expecting that the major aid to our oppression, school, be made useful, has got to be available for discussion; that, and what the choices are. (I'm a candidate for the Berkeley school board, again, 4th time, pushing the discussion - at least, from my standpoint.)

    The choice obviously is us all doing our lives together instead of pretending that school equals work. Don’t make people pretend to do the hammering and sawing of living. Let us ALL DO it together. Classroom-like study needs to rise in situ. All the skills can be learned doing our work together, not isolated into 8-, 10 years of unlearning how to read, write, calculate. Learning the skills has been cast as needing remediation, instead of happening as the natural accompaniment of any study and work. We’re all geniuses given the chance. There’s no genius gene, hovering parents trying to be sure their child gets a good job, to the contrary.

    We’re all artists.
    We’re all teachers and students all our lives.

    These however are stifled by the insistence that we fill classrooms and school desks, instead.

    We all have content to teach and study all our lives, together.

    But those are assigned to people according to their age, and according to their diplomas.
    Teaching and learning needs instead to become us working together regardless of age, altogether because of communal and individual need and desire. Work needs to become for all OUR benefit, none for our Owners, the profiteers.

    I offer the opportunity to enable the discussion of how to remove the present binding form and replace it with the living that will allow us all the joy! of education, the joy of work, of actually participating within our communities, not requiring our children to accept the deception that school equals work.

    Read School Is The Opposite Of Education, by Norma J F Harrison, a study to release us from our confinement http://normajfharrison.wordpress.com
    Norma 510-526-3968 normaha@pacbell.net Alameda County and State of California Peace and FreedomParty Central Committees member

  • Karen Hemphill

    As a former co-President of the Berkeley High PTSA, I believe that the PTA’s major role as being a forum for the collective and individual voices of parents and facilitation of parent/teacher/staff/central administration partnerships.

  • Julie Sinai

    I first joined the PTA when my son entered Kindergarten at Rosa Parks Elementary School (then known as Columbus). Over the years I was an active parent volunteer at all four of my children’s schools. Rosa Parks PTA was a place where I got to know other parents (some now lifelong friends) and learned how to support my child’s school. The school was brand new and the PTA played a strategic role in creating a welcoming culture for new and veteran families alike. Members of the PTA helped pull together the Rosa Parks Collaborative, where I ended up spending much of my volunteer time. During my 10 years at Rosa Parks, we experienced 4 principals. Through each transition our PTA leaders played a crucial role in convening parents/guardians, providing information and representing the families’ concerns and recommendations. As exemplified in my experiences, the PTA is a place where parent and school staff (teachers, administrators and staff) can work together to create a school environment that supports student learning and family engagement. It can be a powerful collective voice for parents and guardians advocating for quality education and equity in resource distribution. The PTA provides opportunities for families to connect with each other, contributes to setting school wide priorities, supports the classroom and raises funds for added resources and enrichment. It’s also a great opportunity to develop leadership and influence the direction of the school and the District as a whole.

  • Ty Alper

    I agree there has not been a transparent public analysis of this issue. To promote transparency, the Board can (and should) direct staff to prepare such an analysis, including the pros and cons of options for addressing fraudulent enrollment. Once there is a data-driven analysis, there will be accurate information to share and then meaningful decisions can be made with community input. (Policy should not be made on the basis of anecdotal reports.)

  • Josh Daniels

    The Board has discussed the issue of out-of-district enrollment on a number of occasions, most recently in November 2013. We will also be discussing it as part of our deliberations to determine how best to respond to the increasing enrollment in our elementary schools. For instance, at the discussion on enrollment on October 8, the Superintendent stated that he has increased the frequency of bed checks and announced that he will be bringing a new policy to the School Board that would require each student to reenroll between elementary school and middle school and between middle school and high school. I also encourage anyone interested to read the BerkeleySide article by Mary Flaherty on this issue (http://www.berkeleyside.com/2014/04/08/illegal-enrollment-is-boon-and-burden-to-berkeley-schools/).

  • Norma J F Harrison

    This problem has persisted as long as I’ve been involved with the schools – my daughter started here in 1978. The problems the school system encounters are caused by the system we live in, insoluble until we work to change it. Working to change it actually will change the behavior of all who concern themselves with justice, with high quality living for us all.

  • Karen Hemphill

    Data on out of district transfers was provided at a recent Board meeting and is available to the public. Fewer transfers have been awarded – most are for the children of District teachers/staff. Fraudulent enrollment data by definition can be estimated but not collected and is hard to determine due to the numbers of our students with split parental custody; that reside with a caretaker that legally does not have to be a guardian according to State law; are fairly transient; and/or are homeless (which includes students whose families are “doubling up” and/or those that “couch-surf” within an extended family). The Board has already directed staff to increase home visits as an equitable method of determining residency and to review the enrollment status of students with serious disciplinary infractions. In addition, the Board has publicly stated that a review of the District’s enrollment practices will be conducted as part of current Board discussions (publicly accessible by attending or viewing Board meetings) over enrollment issues in the District. I have already publicly stated that I favor having students separately enroll for elementary, middle, and high school and to institute (and publicize!) a program of random home visits as part of the enrollment process and am open to hearing other equitable measures to address this issue.

  • Julie Sinai

    Earlier this month, recognizing the increasing importance of this issue as our enrollment grows; I requested staff provide me with data about out-of-district (known as Inter-District) Transfers. Being new to the Board, I learned that reports on Inter-District Transfers are presented to the School Board toward the end of each calendar year (November- December). Upon seeing the data for the past three years, I publicly reported the numbers during my Board Comments at the October 10 School Board meeting. I’ve attached a quick summary that I used for communicating with parents.

    Inter-District Transfers have declined each year, going from a total district wide number of 645 in 2011-12 to 599 in 2013-14. In 2011, 77 of the 645 were new students and in 2013, 46 of the 599 were new students. Overwhelmingly, the new students are children of BUSD employees: 55 of the 77 in 2011; 20 of the 42 in 2012; and, 30 of the 46 in 2013. The 2014-15 report will be presented to the Board in November or December of this year. Included in these reports are the numbers of Berkeley students securing Inter-District permits to attend a school outside of BUSD. Interestingly, that number is also declining each year from 266 in 2011 to 110 in 2013. These numbers do not reflect the number of BUSD students who may not officially live in Berkeley. Getting an accurate number and a clear picture of true residency for these students is extremely difficult.
    The District needs to get a handle on enrollment, both legitimate and fraudulent so that we can accurately project our instructional and facility needs. I will advocate for the Board to consider a policy to change the re-verification of residency during a student’s educational experience in the District. Right now, when a student has been accepted into the District, their residency status is rarely reviewed again. I support amending the District’s enrollment policy to include the verification of residency at key transition points – specifically when a student is promoted from elementary to middle, and middle to high school. And of course any new student, regardless of grade, has to have their residency verified.

    All parents and guardians want the best education for their children. It is important to note that families in BUSD using a false address represent all walks of life. Some families have gone to extreme lengths to get into Berkeley schools – those with resources have been known to rent an apartment they don’t actually live in, others use addresses of friends or family. Additionally, there are Berkeley families seeking an alternative educational experience for their student and see neighboring districts as options. I hear anecdotal stories of our students trying to get into Piedmont, Acalanes, El Cerrito and Albany.
    This is a discussion that needs to take place regionally – with WCCUSD, Albany, Emery, Oakland and Piedmont, specifically. The cities in the East Bay have porous borders. Our families are highly mobile, often living in and out of Berkeley over the course of their children’s schooling. For these reasons, I support having our Superintendent engage our neighboring superintendents and the Alameda County Office of Education in the development of a coordinated regional approach to an effective policy for student enrollment, residency verification and Inter-District Transfers.

  • Ty Alper

    Many parents are concerned that staffing levels are inappropriate to meet the needs of all students, and the varying needs of each school. It doesn’t necessarily work for every elementary school to have the same amount of administrative and support staff, regardless of the number of students at the school. A sensible approach would be to have a minimum level of staffing at every school, and then a long-term, transparent formula for additional staff based on the size, density, and capacity of the school. A similar formula exists at the middle school level for administrative staffing, and it is not hard to envision how one could be developed for the elementary schools.

  • Josh Daniels

    As Board President, I set forth a 4-meeting plan to the challenges we face from increasing elementary school enrollment. On October 8, the board looked at the data on each elementary school – e.g., how many classrooms were being used, how many classrooms were used for other purposes. We also looked at demographic trends, which indicate that we’ll need 4-6 new classrooms for fall 2015.

    The second meeting – occurring on November 5 – will begin the discussion of options. We have already been soliciting input from the community on potential options and many have written. (I encourage you to do so by emailing me at joshdaniels@berkeley.net as well as the Superintendent.) The third and fourth meetings will include vetting the options and settling on one or more of them by February.

    There were some at the October 8 board meeting who advocated for a much quicker timeline. While I agree with the urgency, I am a strong believer in ensuring open and transparent decision, especially when it comes to decisions as difficult as these. This 4-meeting plan doesn’t push anything off the table and ensures that the process through which the board settles on options will be made transparently and in public.

    For more information, see the last item in the October 8 board meeting packet here (http://www.berkeleyschools.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Packet-10-08-2014.pdf) and the video of the discussion is here (http://vimeo.com/108847685).

  • Norma J F Harrison

    We’ll look to finding the funds to hire enough personnel – teaching staff as well as support staff, - as always – as always not able to be made to accommodate the needs no matter how much the board, the candidates, and the other electeds and candidates say this will be a primary concern to them.

  • Karen Hemphill

    I believe that we should review the new staffing model that the Board adopted last year – based largely upon input from school site principals (and slightly modified this year so that the enrollment threshold of having a vice principal for an elementary school was lowered) to evaluate whether the expanded staffing that was enacted through the model met school site needs this year and adjust next year based upon this year’s experiences.

  • Julie Sinai

    While on the School Board I have expressed my agreement and concern that the way we are staffing our schools is not equitable. We heard from our Malcolm families about the stress placed on staff with the rapidly growing enrollment and we responded with increased administrative and supervision staffing. Yet, there are other needs, like when I visited Malcolm X during lunch and saw two employees working the very long lunch line trying help students get their meal in a timely fashion. We need a district wide approach to balancing our staffing resources. I, along with my colleagues on the Board, have requested the Superintendent to bring forward the staffing formulas that also include instructional supports – Special Education, RTI, Literacy and Math coaches, ELD coaches and Family Engagement staff. As we begin deliberations on our budget and review the LCAP, I will be asking the Superintendent to develop recommendations for equitable and affordable staffing ratios.

  • Ty Alper

    I agree that increased enrollment at a number of elementary schools has stretched special education staffing, making it difficult for all students to get the services they need. I favor adding special education staff where needed and where it is possible to do so. However, I want to be careful that special education teachers are not removed from one school to make up capacity at another school. Students with special needs have the same right and ability as other children to attend (or at least indicate a preference for) the school of their choice. This principle is supported by having a minimum level of special education support at every elementary school.

  • Josh Daniels

    The contract between the District and our teacher’s union requires two full time special education staff at each site. While this was put in place many years ago for good reason, it also makes it difficult to allocate staff proportionally when there are limited financial resources. While we cannot negotiate in public, this is certain something that I will be looking at for the next round of negotiations.

  • Norma J F Harrison

    Again, trying to adjust provision of equitable services gets limited by funding and availability. With the enormous abuse of teachers, starting with their pay, then with their position relative to the community, the students – the difficulty of maintaining a respectable relationship while being derided for undertaking this work – like much of work these days – high pay being the way to be respected, rather than content of the work done, it is unlikely that promising to rectify the imbalance will achieve that. The school board cannot change the social structure, --unless, of course, it commits to the long haul to do so. Doing the work to change the system we live in will allow us some joy we don’t presently access in our day to day working.

  • Karen Hemphill

    I agree that the special education staffing should be reviewed as part of our review of all of our elementary support staff needs. This year for the first time, all elementary schools will be provided with RTI staff from District funds by Board action and will be reviewing program implementation, including the nexus between RTI and special education resource needs.

  • Julie Sinai

    As mentioned above, I agree that the staffing formulas need to change. In regards to Special Education, as part of the LCAP, we funded Response to Intervention (RTI) coordinators for all the elementary school sites. This will hopefully alleviate some of the demands on Special Education staff. I would like to explore a staffing allocation that is aligned with the enrollment of students with special needs (504 and IEP) and not be arbitrarily aligned to whole school enrollment size. I also support adequate resources going into professional development for our teacher in implementing RTI and Positive Behavioral Intervention and Support (PBIS).

    The School Board directs the Superintendent, and while I believe this is a high priority, we need a majority of the Board to agree so we can direct staff to come back with fleshed out proposals. The presence of families from our schools is extremely important as we have these deliberations.

  • Ty Alper

    As the question indicates, parents – via PTA fundraising – now support critical components of the educational services the District provides its students. In a state that ranks near the bottom nationally of per-pupil spending, the unfortunate reality is that the community ends up picking up the tab for much of what used to be funded out of the District’s general fund. In addition to the burden this places on community fundraising, it also means less reliable long-term budget projections. An improving economy and the passage of Prop 30 in 2012 is helping some, but until the state makes a robust commitment to fund K-12 education (and shifts its priorities away from things like building prisons), the status quo is not going to change dramatically. At the very least, the District and Board need to treat the PTAs as cooperating partners and not take for granted the critical role that the PTAs play in raising funds for our schools, while working basic school needs.

  • Josh Daniels

    As I mentioned in my response to Question #2, I have heard this concern from many school PTAs. (I have also heard the concern from the BHS Development Group and the Berkeley Public Schools Fund.) The District would not have been able to survive the cuts from the Great Recession if it wasn’t for the support of our PTA. Thus, as “new” (see response to Question # 2) money does come back into the District, we must use some of it so that the PTAs are no longer left shouldering the financial burden of these core educational services. To do so, we need to establish a baseline level of service and staffing that the District would fund and that the PTAs/SGCs would augment based upon the unique needs of that school community.

  • Norma J F Harrison

    Please say ‘children’. People under age 18 are not kids.
    Child is not 'kid'.
    Kid is the happy-go-lucky, kick-up-your-heels, devil-may-care creature. Likely there hasn't been such a child.
    Children are already inaccurately marginalized into being a different creature from regular people. I don't want to reinforce that abusive misconception.

    Child is cradled - likely, as we all should be, but especially children should be.
    Children must mingle with us equally. They must be included as workers; substantial, as important as all of us in production, decision making, guidance of our communities. No age limit; whenever a child has input s/he must be heard. We must change the education system to that children participate with us. Their participation then becomes like ours - input offered because the child has knowledge, concern. Like us - we raise our hand to offer our idea. So must they!

    We must stop treating them or ANY person as less capable than any others of us.
    We are all intellectuals, all geniuses. These are NOT genetic traits!
    Children are not more - or less - happy than adults, more or less 'kick-up-your-heels' creatures in the corral.
    As long as the strata exist, who deserves more - or less - we will not have peace

    The funding you seek needs to come because we are able to tax properly, called ‘tax the rich’. As you know, we can’t. As it is when the Council seeks to adjust systemic injustice – us required to commit war on our fellows, costing enormous funds and anguish, if the board sought root causes of the constraints we’re forced to bear to serve our interests, to benefit from our work, to gain the fruit of our labor, we would be told how we cannot work for those goals, so we’ll back up and pick at little things, turning to regressive taxation, which doesn’t gain us enough funds to do what we need and like.

  • Karen Hemphill

    During the recession years marked by significant State reductions in public school funding, a lot of difficult decisions were made in order to balance the District’s budget – including having school sites take on more funding responsibilities or lose student support and enrichment programs/staff. With some of the lost funding now being restored (by 2020 will have base funding equivalent to what was received in 2007), the Board has taken steps to shift the responsibility for some of this funding back to the District. In addition, the supplemental Local Control Funding Formula monies mandated to be used for low income, English Language Learner, foster youth, and other under-served students, such as African American students will be targeted to expand the types of student support services listed above.

  • Julie Sinai

    Our community is fortunate to have such strong PTAs and an amazingly supportive electorate supporting BSEP! During the Great Recession, BSEP funds with PTA fundraising meant we did not have to decimate the quality of education in our district. True, hard cuts were to be had, but the PTA stepped in and funded critical supports – including the positions mentioned in the question.

    Now, as we rebuild our District with increasing state funds (thanks to Proposition 30), we have the opportunity to transition funding back to the general fund for positions we believe every school should have. Recognizing that the increased state funding will take seven more years just to put us at the level of funding we had in 2008, we can begin to evaluate the priorities for the District. The PTAs can, should, and I’m sure will, play a significant role in helping to define priorities for equitable funding of our school programs – scaffolding the programs over the next few years as our funding increases.

  • Ty Alper

    Well-designed PLCs that give teachers sufficient time and space to initiate their own pedagogic inquiries have enormous potential to improve classroom instruction, and are well worth the resources they require. I am particularly drawn to the Mills Teacher Scholars model of PLCs (and I have written about the Mills program here: http://bit.ly/1u0RNe3), because they are initiated by the teacher and seek to address inquiries that emerge from the classroom. PLCs that are more about teaching teachers compliance, or about using data that has been forced on districts by state or federal governmental actors, are less useful, in my opinion.

    If the District is going to truly invest in PLCs that help inform instruction and improve pedagogy, as it should, it must provide sufficient release time for teachers to participate and it must provide appropriate and meaningful facilitation to maximize the opportunities that well-run PLCs provide.

  • Josh Daniels

    If done well, PLCs enable teachers to learn from each other and create a cultural and constant instructional improvement. The biggest challenge the District faces with PLCs is fidelity – i.e., whether PLCs are being fully implemented at all of our school sites. There are a many sites, particularly elementary school sites, that are utilizes PLCs extremely well. However, there are a number of sites that are not doing so.

    During my time on the board, I have ensured that our professional development funds go support PLCs as well as other teacher support. Additionally, a single board member can also encourage the implementation of PLCs by raising the issue when the general issue of PD is discussed. For instance, at the April 30 board meeting I asked staff whether it would be more effective to do the cultural competence training through PLCs (like the CARE approach that has been utilized at Washington) as opposed to the three-day once-a-year approach proposed in the LCAP. Staff responded that the three-day once-a-year approach was to provide the baseline for on-going cultural competency training that would take place through site PLCs with the help of equity coaches.

    As President of the board this year, I have attempted to develop a board president “PLC” with the board presidents of other school districts. While it is not as rigorous as the PLCs that occur in BUSD, I believe that the introspection required by the experience and the knowledge gained from other board presidents is important for my own grown as a board member.

  • Norma J F Harrison

    See my discussion explaining that we are all teachers and students all our lives; that the people who know how to do things are doing them and need to be able to include community members, regardless of age, in the places – the work sites – where whatever it is THAT’S NECESSARY TO BE DONE is being done. These people have to keep up with the latest ways to repair a chair, to heal an illness, to gather shoes so someone can come in and buy a pair – all of which require reading and writing and thinking and calculating – for a few hours a week – 40 hours a week is NOT necessary to get the needed work done – especially with so many people available to do whatever work needs to be done.

    These require changes to the rules of how we get together, how we fund ourselves as we do alternative living, what’s studied and how it’s done – I’ve described suggestions in my book, and implied ways in my flyer.

  • Karen Hemphill

    One of the reasons, I am excited about our new Superintendent is his experience and commitment to professional development – particularly Professional Learning Committees. I believe collaboration is key to developing a great teaching and thus student learning environment. With Common Core, Next Generation Science Standards, and increased need for differential learning to meet the students of various learning levels as well as how to integrate socio-emotional curriculum, such as anti-bullying and conflict resolution, supporting PLCs and other teacher/classified staff training is key. While I believe that the District (and Board) is extremely committed to PLC’s I am interested in ideas of how the District can expand release time for professional development even more in a way that does not decrease classroom teaching time.

  • Julie Sinai

    Professional Learning Communities offer collaboration time for teachers and other staff to come together to explore best practices and hone their skills. As one of the Board representatives to the BSEP Planning and Oversight Committee, I’ve been assessing BSEP and other revenues that contribute to our Professional Development budget. Our site administrators and teachers need to work together to make sure we have adequate time and opportunities for teachers to be engaged in PLC’s. I’d also like to see inclusion of our classified instructional staff in site-based PLCs.

  • Ty Alper

    Yes, in order for the Board to make well-considered decisions with full transparency and accountability, we need a master facilities plan. This plan should analyze both projected enrollment and actual capacity/density at each school site.

  • Josh Daniels

    The so-called “Blue Book” is the plan that was developed in preparation for the 2010 bond measure (Measure I). It was the result of two years of community outreach, feedback, and discussion. It was what was promised to voters as part of Measure I so we should deviate from that plan very cautiously. That being said, the plan needs to be adjusted to address how reality has changed since 2010, specifically the Transitional Kindergarten requirement and the increasing elementary school enrollment. The board has committed to doing so, and is starting the 4-meeting plan discussed in Question #4. Once we have a plan in place for next fall we can begin to consider longer-term solutions.

  • Norma J F Harrison

    Here I don’t know what you mean – Facilities Master Plan; I presume it’s a specific program you’ve been party to for a while.

  • Karen Hemphill

    I have been a consistent advocate of the need for a Facilities Master Plan (including during the community discussions regarding our last school construction bond) and continue to speak out in favor of developing one – at Board meetings and as part of my campaign re-election. I believe that the plan should include at a minimum classroom, flex/enrichment, and outdoor space needs but also 21st needs.

  • Julie Sinai

    I am familiar with large-scale land use planning from my work at UC Berkeley where every 15 years it embarks on a Long Range Development Plan that is driven by its academic vision and projected enrollment growth. While this is a huge, multi-year endeavor, I think we can learn from it. We do have a Master Facilities plan that is oriented more on current and future capital project needs than on academic vision. It is important for the Board to align the academic goals and enrollment projections with our facility needs. For example, if we agree that performing arts and science is key to our students’ education then we need to ensure we have appropriate space for instruction. That definition of “appropriate” should be one that includes educational experts and the district community. I also would like to see a facilities plan that includes environmental and energy sustainability and neighborhood impacts, like transportation.

  • Ty Alper

    High-quality special education is critical to realizing the 2020 Vision. This District should be a leader in special education, and no parent should have to hire an army of lawyers to get a child the services he or she needs. I believe in full inclusion, as data shows the value to the student and the classroom outweighs the costs, but it has to be accompanied by sufficient support for the classroom teacher. Moreover, there are subtler issues that arise when discussing this topic that need to be addressed as well, such as doing a better job providing our teachers with training to work with children with dyslexia, regardless of whether they are qualified for special education services or not. A commitment to equity demands that we excel in our special education services, and I would make this a high priority on the Board.

  • Josh Daniels

    The achievement/opportunity gap that exists in the District manifests itself in special education as well where African-American students are disproportionately identified as needing special education services. While the 2020 Vision does not have a specific indicator related to special education (the indicators are kindergarten readiness, third grade reading, ninth grade math, and high school attendance), this disproportionally is antithetical to the purpose of the 2020 Vision. This is way the board has paid close attention to this metric. In fact, information on the disproportionality in special education was presented to the board at the most recent meeting on October 22. (Start of page 70 of the agenda packet, which available here: http://www.berkeleyschools.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/10-22-14-packet.pdf.) Simply put, we cannot address the inequities in our district without address the root causes of disproportionality in special education.

  • Norma J F Harrison

    The way not to have an achievement gap is for everybody to do things – to see what’s being done, to do some of it – Please, read through my book. We’re all geniuses. There’s no genius gene. School is designed to suppress that so that we get the lower medium higher level of worker – to stratify us, to stratify jobs. We need all work equal to all work; no higher or lower pay. The work that needs to be done needs to be done. Much of it doesn’t. Get rid of it. Share – share our production so we all have sufficient material comfort because of our work. Share so we are all secure, so we all have plenty all our lives, guaranteed, unto our children’s children...

  • Karen Hemphill

    I believe that the District needs to address the disproportionality of students of color being identified as having special education needs – especially when there is not a clear diagnosable learning related condition such as autism, speech, or dyslexia. Students that are academically struggling should have early intervention through RTI and only be referred to special education for specific learning issues. Currently 25% of African American students are being classified as needing special education (non-GATE) which in my opinion is a misuse of the program and not in the best of interests of the students being served.

  • Julie Sinai

    As one of the founding members of the 2020 Vision, we analyzed District data, including Special Education. At that time, the data demonstrated significantly disproportionate referrals of African American students into Special Education. Working together with the District Special Education department and community based mental health providers we secured federal funding for School-Based Mental Health Initiative and Positive Behavior Intervention and Support (PBIS). We worked together to develop Universal Learning Support Systems (ULSS) that brought school based resources for PBIS, community based mental health, and family support services to families through the schools. The District then adopted the Response to Intervention (RTI) so that students were identified early in the year and provided with the supports they need to succeed. The goal is to ensure Special Education resources for tier 2 and 3 of RTI are dedicated to the students who are in need of more intensive resources. By providing early intervention for students in tier 1 and more intensive resource to those in need, we can impact the gap.

  • Ty Alper

    My vision for this District is that every parent or guardian should be able to send their child to a Berkeley public school and have confidence that the child will receive the educational services he or she needs, whatever those needs are. No child should be bored in school (and children who are bored are often the source of behavioral and classroom management problems). This is also an issue of equity, because while some parents of advanced learners can afford to provide challenging educational experiences outside of the school day, many more cannot. I reject the notion that it is mutually exclusive to view “closing the achievement gap” as an urgent priority and to ensure that all students are challenged in the classroom. We can do both, and I want to devote energy toward making that happen, not assuming that it can’t be done.

  • Josh Daniels

    Differentiated instruction, if done right, should sufficiently challenge all students, including advanced learners. To do differentiated instruction right, however, required significant teacher support. For me, this relates back to PLCs more than anything else. (See my response to Question #7.) PLCs are the perfect forum for a teacher to receive support in ensuring that they are able to sufficiently challenge all students. By allowing teachers to discuss that instructional practice with each other, teachers can learn from each other how to ensure that all students are challenged.

  • Norma J F Harrison

    Yes, end the stratification. Everyone work at the highest possible level of production – yes – ALL people work – regardless of age. All of us love to do our work – to make product people need and like and that we enjoy making because of that. Study arises as we do those. Testing is only asking oneself and each other if the work is being done satisfactorily, and correcting if it isn’t and being satisfied if it is.

  • Karen Hemphill

    As a parent whose son was GATE-identified and just graduated from BHS last year, I have first-hand experience of the absolute need for professional development in addressing the special needs of advanced learners as too many of our teachers have not yet mastered differential teaching (though my son did have teachers that did do this well) – which is critical for the success of the District’s policy of mainstreaming students with special needs. One of the reasons I was excited about hiring our current Superintendent is that he has a background in developing GATE curriculum and working with advanced learners and believe that he will bring that experience and understanding to our District. In addition, the new Common Core priorities on critical thinking and experiential learning is much more conducive to extending lesson plans to challenge advanced learners and much of the curriculum has extended lesson plans built in.

  • Julie Sinai

    I think they are right in some cases. Differentiated instruction does not happen automatically. There are some teachers who are very skilled at it and some that are in need of professional development. Since joining the School Board last year, it has been one of my primary goals to ensure the Common Core curriculum is delivered in a way that supports and challenges the academic range of our students – from our struggling students and our high achieving students. The Common Core curriculum offers us an opportunity for greater flexibility for differentiated instruction. But, we need to make sure all our teachers have the skills, tools and resources to do this.

  • Ty Alper

    I strongly value ensuring that all students are challenged (see my answer to #10 above). As for how we do it, there are a number of ways. And we are fortunate to have many teachers in this District who have great ideas. That is part of why I believe one answer is professional development. We ask a great deal of our classroom teachers. They need support, advice, guidance, and time for collaboration in order to have the tools to make sure that all students are engaged, supported, and challenged in the classroom. Another answer is making more robust use of community and parent volunteers. For example, for the past two years, I have taught a before-school mock trial class at Rosa Parks and also a “Baseball Math” class. (See http://www.berkeleyside.com/2013/07/09/berkeleys-rosa-parks-students-have-their-day-in-court/.) I have seen first-hand how a group of young students with varying abilities and skills can rise to meet high expectations in a challenging environment that promotes critical thinking and problem solving. It is not only our advanced learners who should benefit from such experiences; the goal of challenging students through engaging, project-based learning is a valuable goal for students at all levels.

  • Josh Daniels

    I strongly believe that we must challenge all of our students. This is exactly what the new common core state standards are designed to do. By incorporating more reading into math and by requirement students to read more non-fiction and to write more argumentative essays, the common core is designed to encourage students to think rather than memorize. It truly will (and is) challenges all students. (The changes to the math curriculum are especially important to me because I have a background in math and I have always found our math curriculum to be woefully inadequate to teach deep mathematically thinking.)

    As a result, the implementation of the common core is – as one district staff member told me – the biggest instructional issue we face. So far, the District has implemented it well. Our teachers worked on common core implementation for a year and then came to the board with a plan, which we approved. And the board has continued to support this implementation plan with sufficient resources.

  • Norma J F Harrison

    As I’ve said, change the process and the objectives. This will take time. At this time, at all times, there is not and has never been a school boards seat anywhere that acknowledges what I’m talking about; that acknowledges the misery that school is, - ask the children - I know – they all – many – say – sure, I love school – But then as they rise in evaluation of their situation they come to realize they don’t – didn’t. Remember the child who was torn from their pained parent, screaming, crying don’t leave me!? Yes, people adjust to it, tell themselves we have to get used to the pains.

  • Karen Hemphill

    I strongly believe that each of our students deserve to have and be supported in having a rigorous education. I supported the establishment of the International Baccalaureate (IB) program; expanding advanced placement/IB classes; instituting a college prep program at BTech (including building the first science lab at the school); and establishing standards of expectations for rigor across schools, school communities, and classrooms – all grade levels including the various BHS small learning communities. I believe that one of the ways this can best be accomplished is through professional learning communities where teachers can share best teaching practices, how to differentially teach students of varying academic skill level, and how to motivate/interest students in learning.

  • Julie Sinai

    Similar to the question above, I want to make sure our teachers have the professional development and training necessary for differentiating instructions. The new curriculum gives us to opportunity for this, as there are more chances for applied experiences, as well as technology that allow students to move their pace. Last year I observed a 6th class implementing the new math curriculum at Longfellow. Instead of holding the entire class for a review of the previous lesson, those students who needed review were able go onto the classroom computers, review the lesson, and re-enter the day’s lesson ready to move forward. The math teacher was skilled at ensuring a smooth transition for the students to re-enter the rest of the class. BUSD teachers have been committed to researching, piloting and evaluating curriculum that meets the diverse needs of our students. As a Board member, I appreciate the amazing effort our teachers are making to ensure that the curriculum presented to the Board for eventual adoption has been rigorously tested and assessed.

  • Ty Alper

    All options should be on the table. I have written about some of the negative effects of overcrowding here: http://tyalper.org/2014/09/10/crowdedschools/. We should also look at all available space in the District, though it is likely unrealistic for repurposed space to be available in time for Fall 2015. The Board received the latest demographic projections in January 2014, about 10 months ago, and is starting to look at options for alleviating overcrowding at its meeting on November 5. We need to move quickly to keep all viable options on the table.

  • Josh Daniels

    As I mentioned in my response to Question #4, the board has begun a 4-meeting plan to address the challenges we face from increasing elementary school enrollment. The first meeting occurred on October 8 and the second meeting will occur on November 5 when we will begin the discussion of options. A number of ideas are likely to be considered, including building a new school, repurposing existing buildings, consolidating transitional kindergarten at one school site, increasing class size, adding portable, and many other proposals submitted by staff, the board, and the community. In addition, we also must consider increased staffing level.

  • Norma J F Harrison

    Everybody works and plays all the time. Everybody visits far off places all the time. Everybody lives rich full lives all the time. These restricted ways to live, these accustoming ourselves to discomfort, - why! Are we to believe the church – that tells us we’re supposed to be miserable?, and the economics professors that tell us the same thing – scarcity! There needn’t be scarcity, if we’re permitted to provide all of us for us all. This system doesn’t permit that.

    Next year? ...at the rate we’re going...never telling the truth about school’s role, about our lives lived in service to our Owners, the profiteers, we’ll NEver achieve comfort and security for us all. If we DO begin to work for it, it’ll be a long time coming. Our Owners will continue to beat and kill us as we rise. THEy cannot tolerate us living equitably, all well off.

    The reforms – they don’t.

  • Karen Hemphill

    We have to make do with the system that exists while we work to make the huge changes I’m telling you need to be made. But we have to not say that we are able to fix any of these problems using the present configurations permitted us. The battle is to tear down the brutal formation – step by step, and then altogether replace it with the ways we come up with that serve us beautifully.

  • Julie Sinai

    I am one of two Board members on the Capacity and Facilities Board Subcommittee. We have asked the Superintendent to bring the Board every possible scenario we can consider with the property owned by the District. Before I make, or support, any recommendation for a major change, like year-round schools or staggered schedules, I want to exhaust every option available to us. Those options could include repurposing existing school sites that are already permitted for student education (i.e. BTA, Berkeley Adult School, REALM Charter School, Pre- school Centers, etc.). To repurpose a building that is not currently used as a school site is costly and requires lengthy timelines. I have urged the Board to make short-term decisions for school year 2015-16 by December or early January and longer-term solutions by March. Staff will bring the range of options to the November 5.

  • Ty Alper

    Increasing class sizes will not fully alleviate the impact of the surge in enrollment. While it will free up classroom space, it won’t affect overcrowding at a particular school site (on the yard, in the cafeteria, etc.). I believe that our relatively low class sizes are a wonderful feature of our District, and that they promote student learning and help us attract and retain outstanding teachers. Before I commit to prioritizing the various options, I want to see staff’s analysis of the pros and cons. That said, my inclination is that increasing class sizes would have to be a very last resort to solving our overcrowding problem. Unfortunately none of the other most apparent short-
    term options – squeezing more children into the few remaining “flex” classrooms, installing portables, moving all TK classes to a common site – are appealing either. But based on what I know now, increasing class sizes would be low on my list.

  • Josh Daniels

    Increasing class size will, by definition, mitigate the impact of the surge in elementary school enrollment, but only as it relates to the need for classrooms. Increasing class size does not address other facilities issues such as insufficient cafeteria space, insufficient playground space, etc. (Increasing class size also creates other drawback such as increased workload on teachers.) In order to address the other impacts of increasing enrollment, we are basically left with two options – increasing the number of classrooms (e.g., portables, building new schools, etc.) or providing additional resources to help a school cope with the increased enrollment. In the short-term, we will probably have to rely more heavily on the latter but in the long-term we must do the former.

  • Norma J F Harrison

    We have to make do with the system that exists while we work to make the huge changes I’m telling you need to be made. But we have to not say that we are able to fix any of these problems using the present configurations permitted us. The battle is to tear down the brutal formation – step by step, and then altogether replace it with the ways we come up with that serve us beautifully.

  • Karen Hemphill

    I don’t have a position on this yet as there has yet to be a discussion in our community about the relationship about current class sizes and impacts on student learning. This needs to be the focus of this issue.

  • Julie Sinai

    As a School Board Director my goal is to make sure we deliver the best education we can for our students and provide healthy working conditions for our teachers and staff.  It is my goal to do my best to maintain K-3 class size as 20-1.  While I understand that increasing class size will alleviate the challenge with classroom availability, it doesn’t address the issue of density at a school site nor the impact on our educational program.  I’m looking forward to hearing the broad range of alternatives from staff on November 5 so that we can begin honing in on real solutions.

  • Ty Alper

    If elected, I would be the only Board member with children in elementary school. I see every day the effect of a short lunch period (which usually results, in our family anyway, in an untouched lunch), loss of “flex” classroom space, and crowded facilities. I also see how more than a decade of No Child Left Behind and a high-stakes testing culture has narrowed the curriculum, especially in the elementary and middle schools, and constrained our excellent teachers. We cannot serve all students, and we will never close the achievement gap, if we do not provide teachers with the time and resources to meaningfully assess their students’ progress in order to inform instruction and provide appropriate interventions. I’m not sure what a “Student Bill of Rights” would entail, but I believe all children in Berkeley should have an equal opportunity to succeed, be challenged and supported in the classroom, and attend school in a safe, clean, and welcoming environment that fosters creative thinking, problem solving, and a lifelong love of learning. The time they spend practicing for, and taking, end-of-year standardized tests that do not inform instruction should be kept to the minimum necessary to comply with the law and meet the District’s educational goals.

  • Josh Daniels

    I’m not exactly sure what is meant by an Elementary Student Bill of Rights. However, as I mentioned in my response to Question #6, I believe that the board needs to adopt a policy that establishes a baseline level of service and staffing per school site that the District would fund and that the PTAs/SGCs would augment based upon the unique needs of that school community.

  • Norma J F Harrison

    Why ask ME!!! For a change – let’s ask the students to ask each other, to ask themselves! Get out of their way. Tell them to ask for everything – no compromises with the system – no accession to not being able to do a way because it hasn’t been done. Figure out how to live and then work to make that possible. It won’t happen tomorrow.

  • Karen Hemphill

    I support development of a Master Facilities Plan which includes minimum and/or recommended guidelines for not just classroom space but flex/enrichment, cafeteria, and outdoor space as well as technology needs. I also support continual review/adjustment of recommended staffing levels for all of our schools to ensure appropriate support and safety of our students. Finally, the Board’s Policy Sub-committee has been reviewing District policies regarding safety and harassment issues. Many other student/family rights are established by federal or state laws/regulations (such as the right of students with special needs to a free and appropriate education).

  • Julie Sinai

    The reason I am running for election is because I believe every child has the right to a high quality education. When I walk into a kindergarten classroom, I expect that each student, regardless of race or socioeconomic background, will graduate high school prepared to pursue the college and career of his/her choice. It is their right to receive this education in a safe, clean environment with caring, supportive adults. I would support a community effort that includes students and parents/guardians in developing a Student Bill of Rights that expresses our community’s and District’s values.

  • Ty Alper

    Some of my favorite teachers growing up were outstanding P.E. teachers, like the legendary Jack Ball at what was then King Jr. High. Children need to move during the day, and the research indicates that this is especially true for certain children, often boys. Quality physical education should be a priority for all the reasons the question indicates. (And quality research, and meaningful data, should drive our policy decisions.) Additionally, we should provide for P.E. teachers from different schools and within schools to have time to collaborate and seek professional development.

    Additionally, some classroom teachers are very creative in how they involve physical movement in their students’ days. This creativity and wisdom (what works and what doesn’t work) is something that should be shared and celebrated. This is a great supplement to the important piece that P.E. classes play in our children’s development.

  • Josh Daniels

    I place a high priority on physical activity and wellbeing. My day job is as a staff attorney for the California School Boards Association, which is the organization that represents school districts throughout California. In that role, I have helped school districts ensure that they are abiding by the state requirement of 200 minutes everyone 10 school days for all elementary school students and I try to the same on the board.

    In response to high school parents, I also worked with the Superintendent to create a Superintendent’s taskforce on the issue of high school student physical activity and wellbeing. This taskforce was discussed at the recent meeting on October 22.

    My concern for physical activity and wellbeing is also why I have co-chaired the Berkeley Soda Tax effort (Yes on D!). Not only will Measure D make our children healthier but the revenue from Measure D can be used to support our gardening (and cooking) programs, which recently lost all $2 million of its federal funding.

  • Norma J F Harrison

    Separation of content into subject matter is in line with the commodification of all aspects of our lives. So we have the products science, social studies, health, gym, art etc etc – when really they are a unity. That’s really difficult for people to envision – just living ....

  • Karen Hemphill

    PE was one of the programs that were cut across districts due to State reduced funding for schools. I consider physical education (and nutrition) part of fostering healthy, whole children that are ready to learn and would like to start a discussion around what it would take to have a consistent PE program in our elementary schools. The issue is that the current State funding isn’t so much new money as restored money – in 2020 the District will get to the same level of funding as in 2007 for its base funding so there is and will be a lot of competition for restoring programs as well as services that were cut. I believe that in addition to a Master Facilities Plan that we need a baseline for physical education, music, and art as well as student support services in order to be able to determine what are the necessary resources to achieve what we believe is important to provide to our students.

  • Julie Sinai

    PTA’s have been instrumental in providing resources for PE and organized playground activities. When I led the Garden and Cooking Programs in BUSD we worked to embed physical activity into the discussions on nutrition. In 2002, I secured a grant from the Department of Education - Linking Education, Activity and Food (LEAF) –for the District. The grant objectives were to improve healthy eating and physical activity policies and practices in Districts across the state. When in the Mayor’s office, we included nutrition and physical activity to our BUILD summer literacy – so I’m extremely committed to ensuring positive health outcomes for our students, which includes physical activity. If elected, I will look at how we can deliver our physical education consistently across the District and work to include our PE coaches and teachers in our professional development efforts.

  • Ty Alper

    The premise of this question is right on. Communication from the District has improved in recent years, but it has long been a weakness. (See http://tyalper.org/2014/02/20/why-doesnt-busd-text-or-tweet/ for more thoughts on one aspect of the District’s communication.) As a parent, I know that our relatively small District can feel at times like an impenetrable bureaucracy – and it’s even worse for parents who don’t speak English and/or do not have experience advocating within this kind of system. As the question indicates, parents not only have a hard time figuring out the chain of command, but they are also often unaware of available resources. I like the idea of an ombudsperson or even an ombuds department (allowing for someone to be present at each campus), which many districts have. I would want to see the position become not just a bureaucrat who processes complaints, but rather a trained, skilled, multi-lingual mediator, or group of mediators, who can solve problems and resolve conflicts.

  • Josh Daniels

    I have created a listserv of over 2,000 emails in my four years on the board and I use it to send regular updates on important District activities, meetings, and issues. I have also made it a point to respond to almost every single email or telephone call I receive. (My email is joshdaniels@berkeley.net and my phone number is 510-213-8683.) Many of these communications are from families in need of information and I am able to provide them the information myself or connect them with a district staff member who can. In other instances, the communications express concern regardless the quality of education services or programs. In response, I set up phone conversations, invite families to my offices hours (next office hours: Saturday, November 15 @ 1p at Take 5 Café), or suggest making public comment at a board meeting. Regardless of the specific focus on the communications, I always benefit from hearing from families because I gain insight and perspectives on the reality of life in the District that I would not get otherwise. If re-elected, I will continue to send out my emails and to be responsive to every communication I receive.

  • Norma J F Harrison

    I’d still try to help us preach the alternatives at every turn. Until we can begin to school us to know we are permitted to think the other way, then to compose how else we’d live together, we achieve only repetition. I believe it’s called zombie – for having failed-died and constantly being resurrected although everyone knows it won’t work, again.

  • Karen Hemphill

    I was an early and strong advocate of having family outreach workers at every elementary school and believe the BHS Parent Resource Center should be expanded and that middle school needs must also be addressed. I also support having a student/family ombudsman at the central district office and continue to champion continual improvement of both one way and two way communication with parents/families. For example, I would really like to have the PTA Council and other active parents weigh in on how the District can more effectively disseminate information to our community. A lot of information, especially around student learning, school facilities, and student enrollment and even discipline IS publicly available by having been presented at a School Board or community meeting but the District needs to do a better job in making it easy to access. I have talked to the Superintendent of having a separate part of the District’s website just for PowerPoint presentations given at the Board and other communities for quick access – especially by members of our community that didn’t attend the meeting but are interested in the issue and am open to other ideas of how to make District data/information more readily accessible.

  • Julie Sinai

    As Board members, it is our responsibility to ensure we have policies and practices in place to make sure that the District administration is responsive in resolving problems and complaints. It is my opinion that it is always best for problems to be resolved at the site level, first with the individuals most closely tied to the issue, then, if necessary with a supervisor. If a problem rises to the District level, then I believe staff should respond in a timely fashion, be open to listening to all sides of the issue, and work to resolve problems in a fair manner. An individual always has the option of bringing his/her concern to the Board when they’ve exhausted attempts with the site and District administration. We need to make sure our complaint process works. As a current Board member, I am open and accessible by email or phone when problems arise. It is my practice to follow up within a day with staff on issues that are brought to my attention.

    The District has implemented WE CARE principles: Willingness, Empathy, Consistency, Aptitude (knowledge), Responsiveness, and Effectiveness (quality) as our approach to customer service. All staff, including school site administrators from our elementary through high schools, should receive training to strengthen and improve communication. If elected, I will work with my colleagues on the Board and the Superintendent to develop an accountability process with metrics to measure the time it takes to respond and resolve problems, and ask staff to report the results periodically to the Board.

  • Ty Alper

    The Board member liaison role is critical, as it ensures that each school in the District has a direct connection to the Board. Probably the most important function for the liaison is to be present as often as possible at school events (and PTA/SGC/ELAC meetings) for the express purpose of listening to and seeking to understand the thoughts, concerns, and ideas of that school community. Members of the community can come to (or watch on TV) the Board meetings to see what the Board members think about the various issues. But the Board members also need to hear from the community, and they need to hear from members of the community who do not have the resources or ability to speak during public comment at the Board meetings. A regular presence at the school sites is one way to accomplish this goal.

  • Josh Daniels

    Being a school site liaison is incredibly important for me to do my job well. Specifically, it provides me with important insights and perspectives that I would not get any other way. I have worked to support my liaison sites on a variety of issues such as facilities/maintenance, communication, and governance.

    I am currently the liaison to Cragmont, Emerson, Willard, and Berkeley Technology Academy (BTA). As the liaison, my intent is to make annual visits to each school, to each PTA, and to each SGC, and to meet with each principal. (So far this year I have visited the Cragmont PTA and the Willard PTA and I have done a site visit at BTA.) I also attempt to attend regular school events such as performances and graduation. During my first two years on the board I also help community meetings at my liaison school sites. However, I discontinued them because attendance was generally low and I now have monthly office hours at which I encourage attendance.

  • Norma J F Harrison

    We’ll see....

  • Karen Hemphill

    I am the liaison to Washington, Berkeley High, Independent Study and Jefferson. This year, I spent most time with Washington and BHS – either meeting with parents or discussing issues with school staff. Now that I have more flexibility in my day job work schedule, I will be able to spend more time at school sites than previously (in addition to going to Policy Subcommittee, equity or achievement gap-related meetings, and meetings with the Superintendent and/or central administrative staff during week days). I also attend virtually every monthly Parents with Children of African Descent (PCAD) meeting and hold office hours every month on the second Saturday at 10am. at Café Leila (San Pablo and Delaware). I also attend other community organization meetings that focus on public educational issues.

  • Julie Sinai

    As the Board Liaison, I am a clear point person the school community can reach out to when they have issues they want to bring to the Board’s attention. I am the liaison to Berkeley Arts Magnet (BAM), John Muir, Longfellow and BHS. Early this month, I attended BAM’s Walk and Roll to School – promoting bike and pedestrian safety, along with bus and carpooling to get to school. I visit the schools periodically, attend events and graduations and when I want to observe a practice I try to do it at one of those schools. For example, last year I observed 2nd grade and 5th Also attended the community meetings at Longfellow where they discussed the future of the new cafeteria and the relocation of the garden. I also attended BHS staff development on Constructing Meaning early in the year and later in the year I met with the Professional Development Team to discuss their plans for the coming year. I attended the John Muir spelling bee and I responded to the parents’ concerns about the future of their cooking programs. Most recently, I received emails from BAM parents about an issue regarding substitutes and I immediately communicated with Assistant Superintendent of Instruction and Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources to address the situation.

    Being the liaison provide an opportunity for me as a school board member to better understand what the schools are addressing, their challenges, and their highlights, and it is important for the school community because there is always a school board member who is there for them. grade math lessons at BAM and 6th  and 7th  grade math lessons at Longfellow.