BUSD Reviews Summer School Program Options

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Friday March 16, 2007

The Berkeley Board of Education approved the 2007 Summer School Program on Wednesday. 

Over the past few years, the Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD) has been trying to define its summer school program by introducing a variety of models to improve the academic performances of students not meeting grade standards. 

In a report to the school board, Neil Smith, assistant superintendent of educational services, said, “Research indicated that the traditional summer school remediation program was not particularly effective in increasing student achievement. Therefore, many of the principals have led their school governance councils in exploring site specific interventions to address the needs of their students that are alternatives to summer schools, such as Saturday School at King and extended day classes at Longfellow.” 

Smith added that schools were also designing strategic summer programs to meet student needs. 

The Pre-K Bridge Program—funded by the First 5 Alameda County—is in the works for students entering kindergarten in Berkeley Unified who have never attended a pre-school program. Thirty-six students will be enrolled in the five-week program (June 19-July 20) which will be held at Rosa Parks School.  

Parent training, health and dental screening for students and literacy support will be included. 

At the elementary school level, an extended year is being planned at Cragmont, Rosa Parks and Thousand Oaks. Scheduled to run for six weeks (June 20-July 27), the Cragmont Program is an all-day program that will provide academic support and enrichment for students. 

Thousand Oaks will host a program for Special Education students while Rosa Parks will offer a two-week summer school program (June 18-June 29) for professional development to 20 students. 

Students participating in all three K-5 programs will be taught by teachers familiar with the students’ academic strengths and weaknesses and the focus will be on individual attention. 

Each of the three BUSD middle schools will offer students a four-week program from June 20 through July 18. 

Students who have failed English and mathematics will be offered four hours of daily instruction in these subjects from middle school teachers. 

Middle school Cal Scholars will also be offered a program by Longfellow. 

Since, BUSD provides high school students a chance to make up the credits needed for graduation, Berkeley High will offer students who are not making adequate progress the same program as it has in the past. Four and one half hours of instruction will be provided daily for six weeks (June 20-July 27) which will allow students to take up to two semester courses. 


Math Achievement 

The board also approved the District Plan for Math Education which would help improve student achievement in mathematics. 

BUSD worked with a core group of mathematicians, principals, secondary math department chairs and math teachers in the last few months to come up with a plan whose specific goals are: 

• To increase math achievement for all students 

• To narrow the achievement gap in math for undeserved students, and 

• To increase enrollment and success in college prep math courses at BHS. 

Approximately $870,400 from Measure A, TItle I and Title II funds have been proposed to meet these goals, which will be met by appointing additional teachers to lower middle school class size, math teacher coaches who will promote reflection, collaboration, inquiry and action and a summer institute to help improve the knowledge of teachers. 


Elimination of Grade 6 at BAM 

The board also discussed the elimination of the sixth grade at Berkeley Arts Magnet (BAM). Although 50 students are enrolled in fifth grade at BAM, only six have requested to stay at BAM for the sixth grade. 

BAM is the only elementary school in the district which offers a sixth grade. 


BAMN Rally for Cesar Chavez Holiday 

Carrying posters and wearing brown ribbons symbolizing solidarity, the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action & Integration And Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) rallied in front of the school board building at Martin Luther King Jr. Way Wednesday. 

Bay area students and community members taking part in the picket demanded that Berkeley schools remain closed on March 30 in honor of California’s Cesar Chavez Holiday. 

“BUSD honors Martin Luther King’s and Malcolm X’s birthdays along with all the other national holidays. But it does not honor the Cesar Chavez Holiday, which is state law in California,” said Eyvette Felarca, west coast co-ordinator for BAMN. 

According to Felarca, the Chavez Holiday legislation—sponsored by Antonio Villaraigosa, mayor of Los Angeles—was created specifically to give students from elementary school through college the day off from school. 

“The Latino community will not remain invisible. We will boycott school on March 30 to honor and respect this holiday,” she said. 

BAMN requested the school board at the meeting to recognize the holiday. Oakland Unified and San Francisco Unified are closed for Cesar Chavez Day.