Budget Development for 2015-1moneybag_graphic.jpg
With the last weeks of school already in sight, our site leadership, PTAs, School Governance Councils (SGCs), and district leaders are also thinking ahead and putting the budget plans in place for the coming school year. At this week's Wednesday night board meeting, the School Board will review and discuss the Superintendent's budget priorities for the coming school year, as well as the Berkeley Schools Excellence Program (BSEP) budgets specific to the Class Size, Visual & Performing Arts/Music, and Library funds. The board will also hear about funding adjustments being considered in the district's Local Control & Accountability Plan (LCAP).

The Governor's "May Revise" is expected out in mid-May, and will provide budget projection components the district needs to set the budget for the next fiscal year that begins in July 2015. We have already been informed that the Governor's budget will mandate Berkeley Unified School District to fund pension costs from the General Fund in the amount of $1.8 million in the next two fiscal years.
Garden-based Education Inspires
The Second Annual Gala to celebrate garden-based learning was held last Friday, generating the support and resources that make it possible to teach kids in our 17 school gardens about where their food comes from.

If you missed the party, you can get in on the fun by checking out the photostream, where you can see the Berkeley High School Jazz Band, the farm-to-table fare, and folks enjoying local craft beer and wine.

When asked about food systems and education, those at the event said they were inspired by:
"Building healthy habits early in life..." 
"Kids wanting to learn and being excited..." 
"The best way to learn science..." 
"Giving kids the opportunity to create..." 
BHS Graduation Rate Continues to Climb
New graduation rate data shows that the percent of students graduating from Berkeley High School (as determined by the graduation rate formula) continues to grow. Between 2010 and 2014 the official graduation rate reported for BHS by the California Department of Education jumped from 83.8% to 91.8%. The 2014 graduation rate of 91.8% well out-performs the county graduation rate of 82.8% and the state graduation rate of 80.8% for the same year.
State Testing Resources for Parents
The Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA) is now underway, and schools are on a rotating schedule for students using the new online assessment tool in grades 3-8, and 11. This year the California Standards Test (CST) in Science continues in its traditional paper and pencil format for students in grades 5, 8, 10.

To help you learn more about the new state test, you can visit our new list of questions and answers now available for teachers, staff, and parents on   our SBA webpage.

Thank you for your support!
Students perform best in the testing environment when they  eat a nutritious breakfast, come to school well rested, and arrive to school on time. 
Everyone can do math! 
Rebecca Burke, Berkeley math coach and King math teacher, loves to share her excitement for the website, youcubed.org, and the work of Standford Mathematics Professor Jo Boaler. Burke points to a short paper by Boaler that explains how scientists' understanding of ability and learning has changed, and what we now know to be true about math achievement. Professor Boaler cites five recent and important findings supporting the idea that everyone can be good at math:
  1. All students can achieve at high levels;
  2. Students' ideas about their ability determine their learning pathways and math achievement;
  3. Mistakes and struggle are extremely important for learning;
  4. Mathematics should be dissociated from speed;
  5. Teachers messages are hugely powerful.

Math coach Rebecca Burke encourages parents to consider taking a simple and free online course to explore the new research ideas on mathematics learning and student mindsets that can transform students' experiences with math.  

 

Burke's basic message to teachers and parents alike is pretty simple: "Let's have fun with math, and encourage everyone to believe they can do math. There is no such thing as a math gene."