At the end of last year, the Berkeley High School Governance Council (SGC) supported a proposal to eliminate science lab instruction that is currently offered before and after regular school hours.
This proposal unleashed a storm of protest from student families and science department faculty.
The labs are currently supported by funds from the Berkeley Schools Excellence Project (BSEP) parcel tax revenue. BSEP Planning and Oversight Chair Julie Holcomb said that, to comply with BSEP guidelines, Berkeley High must come up with a specific proposal for re-alocating science lab staff and resources. She said no proposal has yet been brought to the Planning and Oversight Committee, and she is doubtful that there will be enough time between now and the fall of 2010 for the high school administration to develop courses that replace the labs and to bring a concrete proposal to the committee. Hence it is unlikely, in her view, that a proposal to drop the labs could be implemented by next fall.
Holcomb added that constraints on the ways the high school can spend BSEP funds are flexible.
Parents Peggy Scott and Priscilla Myrick see the science labs controversy as linked to the larger issue of proper governance of the high school, which is currently out of compliance with the state Education Code. “The current circumstances that gave rise to this whole [science labs] situation stem from the fact that there is no legally constituted site council at Berkeley High,” said Scott. “It’s crucial that parents and others in the community show up at the next Parent, Teacher, Student Association meeting on Tuesday. The community should know that Mr. Huyett and the School Board are working hard to fix this situation, and they welcome our input.”
The PTSA meeting that Scott referred to will be held at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 19, in the high school library.