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.