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Berkeley School Board to Consider Facilities Plan, Test Results, Recruiters By J. DOUGLAS ALLEN-TAYLOR

Tuesday September 06, 2005

The Berkeley School Board will review the final Fiscal Crisis Management Assistance Team report and the district’s facilities plan update when the board meets this Wednesday, 7:30 p.m., at Old City Hall at 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way. 

With a construction boom in progress in the district, the board will also review several construction projects recently completed—including major renovations at Berkeley High School, Willard Middle School, and Washington and Oxford elementaries—as well as projects scheduled for completion within the next year and a half. 

Also at Wednesday’s meeting, the BUSD board will review recently released test and school-ranking results from the state Academic Performance Index (API) and the federal Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). Those two reports have become the state and national benchmarks in judging the progress—or regress—of public schools. 

Also on Wednesday’s agenda is a resolution in support of California Congressmember Mike Honda’s (D-San Jose) pending bill to change access of military recruiters to student records. Under interpretations of President George Bush’s No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law, military recruiters presently have access to all public student records unless the student or the student’s parents signs a form in advance asking that those records not be released. The policy is commonly known as “opting out.” 

Honda’s bill would change NCLB to require that military recruiters could only receive student information if the student or the student’s parents “opt in,” that is, sign a paper saying that release of such records to recruiters is acceptable. 

The bill is presently in the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, where earlier this year, Honda communications director Jay Staunton says it may languish. “The Republican leadership is not interested in pushing this legislation,” Staunton said. “It’s not their priority at any level. It’s not on their agenda.” 

Berkeley Unified presently operates using the “opt in” interpretation of the law. Since a 2003 policy on military information policy was passed by the school board in Berkeley, parents of Berkeley High School students are provided with a form in the Student/Parent Handbook asking the parents to check a box and sign their names stating: “Please DO release my student’s name, and address, and/or telephone number.” The form goes on to inform parents that if they “do not check a box and sign above, [the high school] will not release your child’s information to military recruiters.” 

Such interpretation in other school districts around the country has been challenged by federal authorities.