Last school year the PTA in BUSD contributed around 1.3 million dollars to our schools. Much of that money was spent to pay for professional development, PE teachers, art teachers, literacy coaches, English language teachers, and playground supervisors. The PTA’s primary mission is the support of our kids and their community in the schools, and PTA fundraising for school staff should not be relied on to this extent in Berkeley for both continuity and equity reasons. As a Board member, what steps would you propose to wean the district off of PTA and other funding sources which fund what should be covered by BUSD budgets?


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.