School Board Approves New ‘Opt-Out’ Military Recruitment Policy

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Friday June 08, 2007

The Berkeley Board of Education accepted the first reading of a policy reversal to release student information to the military for recruitment to be eligible for federal education grants. 

The board voted 5-0 in favor of the new policy, with board member John Selawsky abstaining. 

Berkeley High recently informed its juniors and seniors about a change in policy which requires them to sign an “opt out” form if they don’t want their information released to the U.S. military. Until now, students who wished to be contacted by military recruiters had to sign an “opt-in” form. 

According to the federal No Child Left Behind act, school districts must provide the military with the names and addresses of all juniors and seniors for recruiting purposes unless there is a signed letter from the parents or the student indicating that they are opting out and do not want information released. 

“I want to go back to the ‘opt-in’ policy,” Selawsky said. 

Riddle told the board that the district should work toward getting 100 percent of the juniors and seniors participating in the survey. 

“A hundred percent of the students should be able to make one choice or the other,” she said. 

“I don’t quarrel with that,” said school superintend Michele Lawrence. “But in essence a student is making a choice by not filling out a form. Anticipating getting a 100 percent is very hard to do but we will try our best.” 


Demolition of preschools 

The Berkeley school board approved the demolition of all the buildings at King Child Development Center and Franklin Parent Nursery preschools Wednesday and accepted the schematic designs to rebuild both the sites. 

Franklin, at 1460 Eighth St., has operated out of portable buildings for 30 years, said Berkeley Unified School District spokesperson Mark Coplan. The King center, at 1939 Ward St., has wooden structures which also need replacement, he said. 

On March 28, the board approved WLC Architects—a firm specializing in designing schools—to draw up a plan for the King and Franklin pre-school sites. Project costs, which would be paid from bond funds, have been estimated at $6.4 million. 

“One of the concerns of the staff was that the wisteria all along Eighth Street at Franklin be maintained,” Kevin McLeary, of WLC Architects, told the board. “And we are doing just that. Also there is enough space on Franklin to expand if we need to do so in the future.” 

“The current entrance at King is way in from the street,” said school board vice chair John Selawsky. “Very few people know about the administrative office. I am glad to know that the proposed entrance and the administrative office is on Milvia.” 

WLC presented to the board two site plans for King. 

“This is because of the possibility of future changes to Derby Street that may need portions of the property to create a ‘curvy’ Derby,” said Lew Jones, district director of facilities, referring to a proposed plan that keeps Derby Street open, but bends it to accommodate a regulation-sized high school baseball field. 

“How much is it going to cost to rip off [this plan] and put in Curvy Derby?” asked school board member Nancy Riddle. 

Lew Jones replied that it would be minimal. 

The new designs for both school sites includes six pre-K classrooms and one administrative building which would increase the current capacity for both. 

Currently, King houses up to 84 children, which would grow to 144 with the new plan. The Franklin site housed up to 120 children prior to a recent fire and this number would also be boosted to 144. 

Pre-designed buildings with metal roofs and stucco walls will be brought in at both sites. Students attending Franklin will be moved to West Campus and Berkeley Arts Magnet and those attending King CDC will be moved to Malcolm X over the course of summer. They will remain there for a year while construction is completed. Demolition is scheduled to take place in winter. 


Solar project 

The board continued the approval of $750,000 in funds from the Office of Public School Construction and $305,000 in PG&E funds to complete a solar project for Washington Elementary School to June 20. 

PG&E extended the deadline for their grant by 60 days on Tuesday.  


New school board student director 

BHS junior Rio Bauce beat out two of his classmates to win the school board student director elections earlier this week. 

Bauce will take over responsibilities from outgoing student director Mateo Aceves in August. Bauce is also chair of the City of Berkeley Youth Commission and a member of the Berkeley Planning Commission.  


BUSD 2007 Graduation Events 


June 8 (Friday) 

Berkeley Technology Academy  


11 a.m. 

St. John’s Church, 2727 College Ave. 


June 9 (Saturday) 

African American Studies Graduation 

1 p.m.  

St. Paul AME Church (Ashby between Adeline and Shattuck) 


June 12 (Tuesday) 

Berkeley Adult School (BAS) 

7:00 pm 

West Campus Auditorium 


June 14 (Thursday) 

Martin Luther King Middle School 

4 p.m., BHS Community Theater 


Willard Middle School 

7 p.m., BHS Community Theater 


June 15 (Friday) 

Longfellow Middle School 

10:30 a.m., Longfellow Theater 


Berkeley High School 

5:30 p.m. 

Greek Theater