Berkeley High Selected for Green Energy Small Schools Grant

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Tuesday September 29, 2009 - 06:40:00 PM

State schools chief Jack O’Connell will be in Berkeley Wednesday to announce the names of five California public high schools, including Berkeley High, which were selected for a new “green energy” partnership academy pilot program. 

O’Connell is expected to make the announcement at the Berkeley High School Library at 10:30 a.m. along with California Public Utilities Commission President Michael R. Peevey, PG&E Vice President Ophelia Basgal, Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates and Senator Loni Hancock. 

A partnership between the California Department of Education and the Pacific Gas and Electric Company, the three-year program seeks to effectively prepare students for job opportunities in the rapidly expanding energy sector as well as provide them with an academically rigorous learning experience that has a “real-world” focus. 

A statement from PG&E said that the academy aimed to “provide energy career education for students who might otherwise not have the opportunity.” 

The green energy academy will be Berkeley High’s seventh small school. Berkeley Unified School District spokesperson Mark Coplan told the Planet that although the School for Social Justice and Ecology at Berkeley High currently offers a curriculum which includes green energy issues, the proposed small school would be teaching students specifically about green technology. 

Coplan said that district Superintendent Bill Huyett had described the proposed small school as a “pre-engineering academy.” 

The Berkeley Board of Education have approved the planning grant for the green energy academy and will vote on whether to approve the curriculum and concept at a future date, Coplan said. PG&E will help to craft the curriculum, but Berkeley High will ultimately be responsible for its governance. 

The new academy is scheduled to open next fall.