The ‘Classroom Dash’ By Rio BauceSpecial to the Planet

Friday October 14, 2005

Some times the best ideas have unintended consequences. Measure B was a special tax measure that would implement a tax that would be used to primarily reduce class sizes. 

“There were hundreds of applicants ... In March, we ended up hiring 50 new teacher s, about 20 for Berkeley High,” said BUSD Public Information Officer Mark Coplan. 

While the classes at Berkeley High have been reduced, teachers, as well as students, have been observing something known as the “classroom dash.” In the past, most teacher s have had the liberty to each have a classroom to themselves. Now, with smaller class sizes and approximately 100 additional classes at Berkeley High, some teachers have to share classrooms with other teachers. 

“I find it very stressful,” said fourth-ye ar history teacher Alex Angell, who supported Measure B in the last election. “Like students need a break between classes, teachers also need a break. By the time I get to a different classroom, the bell has already rung. I get to make a physical transition, but I don’t get to make a psychological transition. I have no down time.” 

Teachers haven’t been the only people stressed out by the lack of organization. 

“In my history class, we’re all bunched together in one room,” said sophomore Calvin Young, 14. “Sometimes, my teacher arrives after the tardy bell has rung.” 

According to Coplan, the South Campus project, which will likely be completed in a few years, will offer 10 additional classrooms. These classrooms will most likely be used for one of the sm all schools. However, there are no plans in the making for building any additional classroom space. 

“I voted for Measure B, because I believe that smaller class sizes are very preferable,” said 10th-grade parent Barbara Besser. “However, my son hasn’t no ticed a considerable difference in his class sizes.” 

In November of 2004, 72.2 percent of the voters sided with the BUSD to approve Measure B. It was claimed that over the next two years, the tax revenue would generate $8.3 million. Supporters claimed th at the newly generated tax revenue would reduce the ever-increasing class sizes and argued that we needed more money to fund our children’s education. Opponents charged that the budget mess was a result of fiscal irresponsibility and asserted that Berkele y currently pays the most taxes of any city in the state. 

The Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD) prides itself on the smaller class sizes. According to School Board Member John Selawsky, the class sizes vary by grade level. Kindergarten through third grade have an average classroom ratio of 20.55 students to each teacher. Fourth, fifth and sixth grades have a classroom ratio of 26 students to each teacher. And seventh grade through twelfth grade have a classroom ratio of 28 students to each teacher. 

Some students have been brainstorming solutions to the classroom shortage. 

“I don’t think that it was good to knock down classrooms in place of a student lounge in the C Building, like the administration did previously,” said junior Laura Byrne, 16. “Currently, the student lounge is rarely used. That is just another place where teachers could teach and students could learn.” 


Rio Bauce will be reporting regularly about Berkeley High School, where he is a student.