We use many forms of communication to reach the parents, students and staff of the Berkeley schools, but when it comes to communicating with the larger Berkeley community, the one vehicle that reaches so many households and gets people’s attention, is the commentary and letters section of our local newspaper. Honestly, how many of you turned to this section immediately after scanning the front page? I have a couple of important updates for the community that I want to share with you here, because it is information that I think is important to everyone.
As many of you have read here in the Daily Planet, the BUSD held two community meetings to receive public comment about the Closed Derby Street Plan, in December and January. The last action by the board was to direct staff to pursue the Closed Derby Option, and they directed staff to conduct these meetings for community input. The overwhelming comment voiced in the meetings was in support of a neighbor's Curvy Derby Plan, recommending it as an alternative to the Closed Derby Plan that would still allow for a larger field.
The next step in the process is to deliver the information gathered in those meetings to the Board of Education for review. The report will come before the board in March, when the calendar will allow sufficient time to make it a conference item as opposed to an Informational Item. A conference item allows the board greater options once they receive the report, while an information item only allows them to receive the report for information. Staff listened to the community and believes that this is what they were asking for.
Meanwhile, the BUSD Surplus Committee has completed their report to the board on the Hillside School site, and at least six of the members have agreed to continue with the committee as we begin looking at other surplus property questions. The board is looking for an additional five community members who are interested in the work of the Surplus Committee and are willing to serve. The committee is what is referred to as a “7-11” committee as it is required to have a minimum of seven, but not more than 11 members. Board members are also looking to fill vacancies in the Facilities Safety and the Maintenance Oversight Committee (FSMOC) and the School Construction Oversight Committee (SCOC). Information on all of these and applications are available on the BUSD website, www.berkeley.k12.ca.us or by calling 644-6320.
At the school board meeting on Feb. 7, Superintendent Michele Lawrence expressed thanks to the mayor’s office, the City of Berkeley Health Department and the Albany School District who were quick to respond when we needed counselors for students and staff at four of our schools following the death of Berkeley High School vice principal denise brown (she used lower case). These are two critical partnerships that really came through when we needed them.
Mark A. Coplan is the public information officer for the Berkeley Unified School District.