Page One

Berkeley School Board Considers Fee For Middle School Extended Day Program: By J. DOUGLAS ALLEN-TAYLOR

Tuesday October 05, 2004

With school board elections less than a month away, controversial items are generally absent from BUSD’s board agenda for Wednesday night. One such contested item, however, may be a fee for the Middle School Extended Day Program. 

After some discussion, this item was tabled at the board’s last meeting for the purpose of “further study.” It is a staff recommendation for charging fees for participation in the After School Learning Programs at King, Longfellow, and Willard Middle Schools. The programs include academics, homework tutors, enrichment classes, and recreation. 

Superintendent Michele Lawrence’s office says such fees are needed because of funding changes caused by the federal No Child Left Behind Act.  

Under the proposal, families will be charged on an income-based, sliding scale ranging from $75 to $25 per month per child (each additional child will be charged on a scale ranging from $38 to $13). The proposed policy also states that families which cannot pay the fees will be given the opportunity to meet with school staff to work out other arrangements. 

At the board’s last meeting, directors expressed concern that some eligible students might be kept out of the program because of inability to pay the fees. 

The superintendent has said that she will not recommend funding the middle school after school program out of General Funds. 

In other agenda items, staff has recommended that the board: 

• Authorize the restructuring of $29 million in outstanding General Obligation Bonds. Because of the present interest rate climate, staff believes that restructuring can result in $3.2 million in savings to the district over the life of the bonds. 

• Authorize a $100,000 updating of a portion of the district’s aging technology infrastructure (these routers and switches were five years old, but in computer life, that’s considered “aging”). The new equipment will be purchased from SBC Datacom. The replacement will help the district’s computer network move from the old ATM system to the new Ethernet system. District staff is recommending that the money come from a reduction in bond expenditures for West Campus and not out of the General Fund. 

In addition, the board will have a second reading of: 

• Adoption of an integrated policy for nutrition education, physical activity and food. 

• Adoption of a district food policy. 

• Adoption of a physical education policy. 

• Adoption of an environmental education policy.