Berkeley PTSA - Building Our Community

The Berkeley High PTSA works to positively impact the school climate by:

  • Supporting meaningful and fun student activities
  • Hosting parent education events and networking opportunities
  • Providing information and advocating for students and parents

Interview with Dean of Attendance

 

 

PTSA Interview with Mr. Boltz, Dean of Attendance

BHS may lose its Dean of Attendance in the 2018-19 BUSD budget. This PTSA interview with Allen Boltz is intended to inform the BHS community about this staff position’s role on campus.

What experience do you have at BHS? I came to BHS in 2009 and taught Forensic Science in AMPS. I became the Dean of Attendance this year. This is also my first year as an administrator of the science department. Previously I co-lead one of the academies.  

What are your thoughts on the District’s recommendation to eliminate your position? Students are the end clients and the position should serve them. If I can’t justify the position, it shouldn’t be here, so I’m very reflective on what I do. If this position is eliminated, someone else will have to do the work.

How does the Dean of Attendance foster relationships with students? The 10-15 kids missing class on any given day doesn’t really affect the Average Daily Attendance (ADA) but it can have a big impact on the culture of the school. I focus on these kids. We don’t want administration to communicate to kids that we don’t care or give them the message that it’s OK to miss class. I spent my initial weeks talking to kids, finding out where they hang out, and talking to them to shift their thinking, to show them that administration cares. I circulate, walk kids to class, give them rewards, and encourage them.

What makes you effective in this role? I understand truancy from the inside because I was truant in high school; I didn’t have family support and didn’t see opportunities for my future. So I understand some students' reluctance and can speak from my personal experience. Kids are adults in training, positive relationships will get them to class. Historically school administrators are enforcers who dole out punishment, but if we stay in our offices we’ll only see kids on their worst day. So I’m all over this campus, I know every secret place, The entire BHS Admin team moves around campus and talks to kids.

If having a Dean of Attendance is unique to Berkeley High, why isn’t it expendable?  The title might be unique, but the work isn’t, eliminating it gets rid of an administrator. The Dean of Attendance contacts parents for SART (Student Attendance Review Team) meetings, coordinates with Counselors, sets up SSTs (Student Study Team), attends SARB (Student Attendance Review Board) meetings at the District office. Daily I check in with teachers, validate their attendance numbers, support staff to track down what’s unverified and reconcile them so that there are no loose threads, and I sign off on what goes to the State. At TK-8 schools clerical staff track attendance. Berkeley High has one-third of all BUSD students and takes attendance 18,000 times a day. I call parents to determine if there’s an oversight or an error or to problem solve what’s going on with the student. The position was created in 2009 to have someone watching attendance and holding everyone accountable. The BHS Average Daily Attendance (ADA) was 91-92% in 2009 and has gone up school wide to 94% for the year (we have higher percentages in the beginning of the year; it's currently 97%, but attendance tends to drop off towards graduation). Every ADA percentage at BHS brings BUSD $230K in annual revenue. With the Dean of Attendance position, BHS has sustained the ADA gains it’s made and continues to climb; Without this position our ADA may slip. This week alone I have to contact 81 families to schedule face-to-face SART meetings.  

Recently you were arrested, can you share what happened? I was detained, but not photographed or processed.Two students were thrown onto the ground and the officers had a knee on their backs. I approached an officer who was standing on the side and said “these are my kids, I know them, can I talk to them?” The officer said, “no you need to get back.” After the students were cuffed and removed I left to talk with another administrator. Later an officer came and handcuffed me for interfering with an officer.

If you had been allowed to talk to the students, what would you have said? I would have told them to calm down. They were scared and resisting. A survival instinct kicks in when you’re in a prone position with a knee in your back. I hoped to talk to them and to de-escalate the situation and help them understand that the police were responding the way officers are trained to handle situations.

Describe how you interact with students? When I step in, what’s most valuable is to assume positive intent versus react. High school students’ prefrontal cortex is not fully developed, it won’t be until the age of 25. We can’t always expect rational thinking. As adults we have the ability to cool off; kids don’t know how to do this. When they act out towards me, there’s something else going on. I don’t want my interaction with them to be a continuation of the negative. I want our students to have positive relationships with authority figures at Berkeley High. It’s safe here, but out on the street it’s very different.

 

Thank you Mr. Boltz and good luck reaching 81 families this week!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Proposed BHS Staff Cuts Warrant Parent Involvement

Proposed BHS Staff Cuts Warrant Parent Involvement


Facing a $1.8 million budget shortfall in 2018-19, the Berkeley Unified School District must make cuts, and what’s currently proposed will significantly impact Berkeley High. The PTSA is calling on BHS parents become informed and take action.


The District proposes to eliminate 1.5 academic guidance counselors, the Dean of Attendance, 4 Safety Officers, and the Independent Study Coordinator. These resources serve ALL student populations, and losing them will affect the entire student body and overburden the remaining staff. The PTSA is concerned that cutting these positions will compromise student services at the high school (more information about these staff member roles follows).
 

The PTSA encourages you to be informed and understand how the proposed 2018-19 Budget will impact BHS.

If you'd like to write District decision makers and Board members, Superintendent Donald Evans, Associate Superintendent Pasquale Scuderi, Interim Assistant Superintendent Pauline Follansbee, and School Board Directors Alper, Hemphill, Appel, Daniels, and Leyva-Cutler: donaldevans@berkeley.net, pasqualescuderi@berkeley.net, paulinefollansbee@berkeley.net, boardofed@berkeley.net

Click here to send your message to to BUSD decision makers.

 

 
Stay tuned for future developments.
 
 
Staff positions impacted in District's 2018-19 budget proposal

 

The Budget Shortfall

Berkeley Unified School District is facing a budget shortfall of $1.8MM for the 2018-2019 school year. This is due to California mandated increases in funding to school employee pension funds. The District has proposed cuts which have been discussed in the Superintendent's Budget Advisory Committee and at some School Board meetings. It’s now proposed that the School Board vote to eliminate some Berkeley High staff positions at the December 6th School Board meeting (other cuts will not be voted on until later).

It is important to know that all budget cuts must come from the District’s General Fund, which is the largest of the numerous sources of District funding. Other sources, such as the BSEP parcel tax and LCAP supplemental funds, may fund resources that provide services for specific student populations. In contrast, the Berkeley High staff positions that the District proposes be eliminated are resources that serve ALL students.

Guidance Counselors

Every student has a Guidance Counselor who serves as the entry point to all student services. Counselors act in many capacities in addition to their creating student schedules, assisting students with course selection, and writing college letters of recommendation. Increasingly at Berkeley High, guidance counselors are being called upon to act as mediators or mental health crisis interventionists. These sorts of unanticipated situations may consume weeks of their time while they still must meet the ongoing needs of the 400 students they serve.

The District’s rationale for cutting 1.5 counselor positions is that Berkeley High’s student to counselor ratio of 400 to 1 is less than the State's average ratio. Even so, Berkeley’s current ratio is well below the recommended 250 to 1 student to counselor ratio born out of research that shows that low student to counselor ratios increase students’ college acceptance and postsecondary success.

Currently Berkeley High’s 8 guidance counselors serve approximately 3,200 students. The proposed cut will add 100 students to each counselor’s workload. Prior to the last budget crisis in 2007, BHS had 10 guidance counselors. The current proposal to cut 1.5 positions will lower the number of guidance counselors to 6.5, which would be an all-time low at Berkeley High.

Dean of Attendance

The Dean of Attendance works with students who are not attending their classes to keep them on track. When this position was created, increased attendance resulted in increased State funding that more than paid for the cost of the new position. In addition to performing this job, the current dean of attendance also is head of the BHS Science Department.

Safety Officers

Berkeley High currently has 15 Safety Officers, up from historical levels. The proposed budget cuts would bring this down to 11 officers. Many of these safety officers also serve as mentors and informal counselors.

Fewer safety officers at BHS may open up the campus to a greater outside police presence when situations, confrontations, and/or issues occur between students. Inappropriate police actions on October 20, 2017 were brutal and students, parents, and staff were traumatized. Protocols for Berkeley police conduct on the BHS campus must be identified and implemented if safety officer positions are to be eliminated.

Independent Study Coordinator

The Independent Study Coordinator is the sole administrator for the Independent Study (IS) program, which serves 145 students K-12 of which 122 are Berkeley High students. IS also includes the home/hospital program, where a teacher will visit hospitalized students to continue  their coursework. Every year, the IS program reaches capacity and must turn students away.

IS students have wide varying academic and emotional needs, all of which are met by this one-on-one model of teaching. The IS coordinator doubles as the program’s guidance counselor, advising on course progression and choices and writing letters of recommendation.

The District proposal eliminates the .5 guidance counselor position and has the current Berkeley Technology Academy (BTA) principal take on the IS administrator’s role and responsibilities. The small number of students (under 100) that BTA serves also require a non-mainstream teaching mode; however, the needs of these two groups of students are widely different, and they require completely different teaching approaches.  

 

 

PTSA Meeting Wednesday November 8, 2017

Nov 08, 2017 6:45 AM to 8:15 AM
Location: 
BHS Library

Please join us Wednesday, November 8th, from 6:45 to 8:15PM for a PTSA meeting in the BHS Library. Light snacks will be available. 

 

Guest speakers at the meeting include:  

 

Superintendent Dr. Donald Evans, Dwayne Byndloss, BIHS & AMPS Counselor, Jasdeep Malhi, BHS Intervention Coordinator/Counselor

 

BHS students and parents alike are told that the school's counselors are essential resources for BHS students in good times and bad. Counselors Dwayne Byndloss and Jasdeep Malhi are coming to this meeting to explain their roles on campus and provide parents with the information they seek. Please use this Google Form to submit any questions you have for them https://goo.gl/forms/FtDwqeoBvYGn5eFV2

 

The BHS PTSA seeks to promote a whole school community by facilitating activities such as the food trucks at Back To School Night and parent/teacher education opportunities. You can support the PTSA by becoming a member this year. Here is a link to join online.

http://bhs.berkeleypta.org/

 

 

 

 

"The Mask You Live In"

Nov 02, 2017 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM
Location: 
Florence Schwimley Little Theater Allston Way

 

 

The Berkeley HIgh PTSA is sponsoring a FREE screening of the 2015 Sundance Award-winning film The Mask You Live In.

Please join us Thursday, November 2 from 7-9 PM in the Florence Schwimley Little Theater on Allston Way.

Light refreshments and snacks will be served.

A facilitated audience discussion will take place after the screening. 

 

The Mask You Live In takes a look at the damaging effects of our cultures narrow definition of what it means to "be a man" and the unintended consequences this can create for young men as individuals and for our society as a whole.

 

The BHS PTSA seeks to promote a whole school community by facilitating activities such as teh food trucks at Back to School Night and parent/student education such as the screening of this film.

 

You can support the PTSA by becoming a member this year. This is the link to join online:  Berkeley High PTSA |

 

 

 

Food Trucks at Back to School Night

Sep 28, 2017 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Location: 
BHS Campus in front of the Community Theater

Grab a BITE on back to school night!
 
For your convenience and fun, the PTSA has arranged for the following 3 food trucks to be on campus from 5:00-7:00:
· Country Grill  http://www.countrygrill.net/
· Fist of Flour Pizza Company http://wheresthefist.c om/
· Phil's Sliders -The new mobile unit.  
There will be pizza, chicken, salads, sliders, vegetarian and vegan options.
Prices will range from $5-$10 per person.
 
It's also a chance to celebrate that September "getting back to school month" is almost over and to enjoy some food that you didn't have to prepare!
 

The Sky's The Limit - Join BHS PTSA

It's likely that you are familiar with the PTA, you may have been actively involved in your elementary school's PTA, you may have helped at your middle school's PTA events, and now that your kids are at Berkeley High you might be thinking "I'm done!"

Berkeley High is a great high school. Its principal Erin Schweng is an impressive and collaborative leader. The BHS Development Group and Athletic Fund raise a lot of money, and along with the BSEP and LCAP committees, parents have a voice in bringing many resources and enrichment opportunities to our students.

So what could possibly be missing? What's the value of having a PTA at Berkeley High?

At the high school level, the PTA's mission is to build a whole school community. The PTA at Berkeley High is actually a PTSA, a Parent Teacher Student Association. The school's distinct learning communities afford our students great opportunities, but they fractionalize the student body and parent community. To provide effective advocacy for students and parents, Berkeley High needs a strong unified parent voice.

Many of us hear that Berkeley High is a great school for kids who are self directed, but the kids who aren't can easily get lost. Yes, kids who can recognize and voice their needs can hook up with resources independently and these kids thrive. But not all kids can steer their own course successfully, and often parents who need to assist their kids don't know where to go or they hit obstacles. Moreover, something unanticipated can land any kid in a situation that needs parent or guardian advocacy.

In addition to supporting the high school's students, parents, and guardians, the PTSA can sponsor whole school activities that are fun and safe. It can make current campus events more welcoming (like bringing food trucks to this year's back-to-school night) and it can sponsor parent and student opportunities for socializing, learning, and advocacy (like screenings of film "The Mask You Live In").

Right now our nation's public schools are under attack more than ever before. Berkeley’s become the battleground destination for Alt-Right and Antifa showdowns in the park across the street from the high school. We believe that a strong PTSA can help keep Berkeley High on the up and up and set a good example for our country. After all, working together in the public schools is perhaps the best opportunity in life for adults and kids to surmount the racial, cultural, and economic boundaries that separate us. So let’s embrace our diversity and be a team again and work together to make Berkeley High School a safe, equitable, enriching, and fun experience for our kids.

Join the PTSA this year. Bring your ideas, enthusiasm, passions, and commitment. Take the ball and run with it. The sky's the limit!

Join the PTSA

Membership Information