The Berkeley Unified School District’s, or BUSD, Board of Education gathered Wednesday to discuss the district’s budget for the coming year and resources for students.
During the meeting, board members proposed various projects for the 2021-22 school year, such as an action plan for Title IX including new training for K-8 administrators and an anti-sexual violence curriculum for athletes. In addition, the school board discussed plans for modernizing Longfellow Middle School.
“When we talk about Title IX, gender equity is the cornerstone of Title IX,” said Stephen Jimenez-Robb, district Title IX coordinator and compliance officer, during the meeting. “When we do this training, we have conversations about using gender-neutral conversations in the classroom.”
Jimenez-Robb said the district will conduct a survey at the beginning of the school year to assess school climates and measure the success of Title IX efforts.
In response to a question from school board vice president Ka’Dijah Brown regarding support for survivors issuing complaints, Robb noted that school counselors and other outside resources will aim to provide help and prevent retaliation.
Along with Jimenez-Robb, school board director Ana Vasudeo said she also looks forward to consent education at BUSD schools. Vasudeo spoke on Title IX and noted the need to prioritize “denouncing hate crimes against the AAPI community” and support the Latinx community.
BUSD facilities executive director John Calise presented plans to modernize Longfellow Middle School. The construction budget details amounts to about $30 million, including funding for two short-term projects: one for landscaping and another for repainting the school.
School board president Ty Alper called the construction an “example of equity in practice.” Alper added that the school has a “disproportionate” number of students the district hopes to prioritize.
“We’re being asked to approve an increased allocation to ensure that school grounds are safe, modern, attractive and facilitative of the educational program that we want at that school,” Alper said during the meeting. “It seems like a perfect and appropriate use of the additional funds that you were able to find in the Measure G budget.”
Calise said a student in the sixth grade at the time of construction will not be able to see the completed work by the time they reach the eighth grade, as construction would take place from summer 2023 to 2025.
Board members unanimously approved the passage of the consent calendar and approved the 2021-24 Local Control and Accountability Plan, or LCAP, which outlines steps the district will take to improve equity and student outcomes.
In addition, board members approved the adoption of the district’s 2021-22 budget, which includes about $100 million in funding directed toward accomplishing the goals set in the LCAP and expanding staff at BUSD schools.
In addition to the presentations, the board welcomed Kathy Fleming as the district’s new director of local resources and partnerships and recognized Natasha Beery, outgoing director of community relations, for her work.
“A fire has been lit under me because our children are worth it,” said Sandra Loving, member of the Parent Advisory Committee, during the meeting. “In our community, there’s so much care and knowledge among our families and educators that I know the most vulnerable students here can thrive.”