Berkeley Schools Hires New Assistant Superintendent

By Suzanne La Barre
Friday June 23, 2006

The Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD) has hired a new assistant superintendent of human resources, a district spokesperson announced last Thursday. 

Lisa Udell, director of human resources in the 9,750-student Milpitas Unified School District, will replace Patricia Calvert, Berkeley’s existing director of certificated employees, who leaves the district June 30. 

Udell secured a two-year contract. She will earn $134,931 a year, effective July 1.  

“I’m really excited about coming to Berkeley,” she said in a phone interview Tuesday.  

Udell, 55, a former school administrator and elementary, middle and high school teacher, has worked in human resources in the Milpitas school district for three years, at one point acting as both the HR director and interim assistant superintendent when a colleague fell ill. 

“I’ve had the full experience of human resources,” she said. “From negotiations, to hiring to layoffs.” 

She counts minimizing employee layoffs during a budget crisis and peaceful negotiations with the district’s two unions among her successes in Milpitas. 

In the 9,000-student Berkeley Unified School District, Udell will face myriad hiring complexities associated with the district’s grants, special taxes and federal accountability standards. She also inherits a reputedly fractious work force, marked by 1,500 employees and five unions. 

“Berkeley is a little more contentious, but that’s OK,” she said. “Conflict is inherent to the job.” 

Udell is BUSD’s first assistant superintendent for human resources. In April, the Berkeley Board of Education approved replacing the director title with a higher-paying position as part of a larger effort to fill holes in the district’s managerial infrastructure. 

In the same meeting, the board issued pink slips to more than 70 employees, most of whom were paraprofessionals who had not yet met the higher education requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.