BHS Governance Council To Vote on Redesign Proposal Tuesday

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Monday December 08, 2008 - 12:12:00 PM

The Berkeley High School Governance Council is scheduled to vote on Tuesday on the high school’s proposal to develop a new small school, establish advisory programs and change to block scheduling, after reviewing the plan at an all-day meeting. 

Prepared by the Berkeley High School Design Committee—comprised of Berkeley High School educators plus a parent and a student selected by principal Jim Slemp—after consultation with the non-profit firm Bay Area Coalition of Essential Schools with a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education, the redesign hopes primarily to to address thestudent achievement gap at Berkeley’s only public high school. 

However, the idea of block schedules has been criticized by some parents and at least one member of the Berkeley Board of Education, who said it would take away valuable instructional time from students. 

Those in support of it, however, claim that along with smaller learning communities and advisory programs, it will help to reduce the achievement gap. 

A block schedule would include red and gold alternating days, with student attending periods one through four on “red days” and periods five through eight on “gold days.” 

Classes would last 90 minutes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and 80 minutes on Tuesday and Thursday in order to be able to add a 30-minute "advisory period" to the student's schedule.  

The plan also includes four late start days per month, during which classes will be held for 65 minutes. Students will take six or seven classes plus a Student Support and Community Access Period (SSCA), coordinated by the student's advisor. 

Instructional minutes per class will be cut by 22 percent in order to make time for advisory, teacher preparation and SSCA periods. 

So far, two community forums have been held to inform parents about the proposal.  

At Tuesday’s meeting, the community will get a chance to make comments about the redesign from 8 to 8:30 a.m., following which the Berkeley High School Governance Council will meet to discuss it. 

Berkeley Board of Education President John Selawsky said it was likely that the proposal would not be coming before the school board until January. 

Tuesday’s meeting will be held in the Community Theater Lobby from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. For more information call Richard Ng at 644-4803. 

Community members can send their input about the plan to Richard Ng at richard_ng@berkeley.k12.ca.us and Principal Jim Slemp at jim_slemp@berkeley.k12.ca.us, which will be forwarded to all BHS Governance Council members. 

To view a copy of the Berkeley High redesign plan visit www.bhsacademicchoice.com. 

To view earlier stories on this issue see: