BUSD Addresses Homeless Youth Programs in Schools

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Tuesday February 27, 2007

The Berkeley school board voted last week to approve a resolution to honor Berkeley High Vice Principal denise brown and declared Feb. 15 as denise brown day. Brown died Feb. 2 following complications from knee surgery. 


Other matters 

The board also voted at its Feb. 21 meeting to approve a resolution proclaiming the first week of March 2007 as Week of the School Administrator.  

The board approved the memoranda of understanding between the Berkeley Unified School District and organizations supporting the district’s McKinney Vento Homeless Children and Youth Program. 

BUSD received a grant award notification from the California Department of Education regarding the Homeless Children and Youth program in August and it accepted in September. 

The district was funded for the three-year grant period in the amount of $90,000 for the first year while funding for the following two years was to be determined. The grant expires on June 30. 

The McKinney-Vento legislation requires that the BUSD help homeless students and parents get access to public education. 

BUSD’s McKinney-Vento program has partnered with local homeless organizations such as the Berkeley Food and Housing Project, Women’s Daytime Drop-In Center, and Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency to help students with registering, Medicaid, bus passes, backpacks and book supplies.  

In order to comply with a part of the legislation that specifies identifying and serving unaccompanied youth, BUSD will be partnering with Berkeley-based Youth Emergency Assistance Hostel (YEAH). 

$2,000 in funds from the grant will be allocated to YEAH to provide services to forty unaccompanied youth every evening. This includes information and referral services, emergency food and shelter, therapy, harm reduction groups and case management. A youth outreach worker will be responsible for relocating and identifying unaccompanied eighteen-year-olds and younger. 

Board member John Selawsky inquired about the sustainability of the program. 

“Is this going to end after three years?,” he asked. 

“We do not know the answer at this point,” said BUSD Superintendent Michel Lawrence. Selawsky said that it was important to track grants that were in a danger of running out and lobby to keep them going on.  

The board also approved the budget modifications to the grant award for Integrating Schools and Mental Health Systems. 

BUSD was awarded $368,007 in grant money for Integrating Schools and Mental Health Systems (GISMHS) in January 2006 from the U.S. Department of Education, for a period of 18 months. 

The grant names BUSD as its fiscal agent and the Berkeley Alliance as the lead agency. A budget change was suggested to compensate the Alliance who will be taking over certain activities from the Office of Integrated Resources to relieve time and staffing constraints within the office. 

In the past BUSD received $155,407 and the Berkeley Alliance received $212,600 in total allocated grant money. The budget change would lead to BUSD transferring $19,000 from its allocated grant funds to the Alliance, bringing the total grant money for the Alliance to $231,600. 

The board received the preliminary 2007/08 student enrollment projections from Assistant Superintendent Neil Smith on Wednesday. 

Based on data from past years as well as a set of variables, BUSD’s enrollment for the next school year is expected to be 8,929 students. This figure represents a decline in enrollment of 158 students when compared to the October 2006 California Basic Educational Data Set.