April 15, 2019
A+ News
In this edition:
  • Striving for Zero Waste Contest
  • New Trees for Earth Day and Arbor Day
  • Law and Social Justice Class at San Quentin
  • BUSD Oratorical Fest
  • BUSD Music Program and Berkeley Symphony
  • Thousand Oaks Play
  • School Board Letter on Budget
  • BUSD Employee Housing Discussion
  • BSEP Planning & Oversight Committee, School Board Meeting, and more!
Striving for Zero Waste Efforts & Contest 
Waste reduction efforts are underway at BUSD school sites including:
  • new compost and recycling bins, and
  • switching from plastic cups to compostable paper ones in the cafeteria.
We encourage you to review waste sorting at home ( Think Before You Throw! ) and to reduce waste by bringing zero waste lunches and reusable water bottles and utensils to school.
Need further incentives to reduce waste at school?

The Striving for Zero Waste Contest is encouraging individuals, classes and school Green Teams to find creative ways to practice the 4 R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle and rot).

Design sustainability awareness posters!
Perform waste audits!
Create Earth Day celebrations!
Be creative to protect our planet!

The contest will award eco-friendly prizes to students and classes, scored on waste diversion, creativity and impact. Contest Deadline: May 17
Contest details and other information about the BUSD Sustainability Plan and Striving for Zero Waste Initiative, including Green Team contacts at your school, are all on the district website.
Trees to Be Planted in Time for Both Earth Day and Arbor Day
Lead Grounds Gardener, Genaro Machiavello, has been quietly leading an effort to bring new tree plantings to several school grounds in time for Arbor Day. Students from Franklin Preschool, Washington Elementary, and Emerson Elementary will be involved in the new tree plantings this week and cheering on as they witness the lives of new trees taking hold on their campuses.

Criteria used for the tree selection included many factors, including adaptability to local conditions, trunk and branch structure, maintenance requirements, carbon sequestration, drought tolerance, ornamental beauty, and longevity of life. Here's the final selection by school:

Franklin: Diospyros hachya (soft persimon),
Washington: a Quercus argifolia (Costal Live Oak) Emerson: Carpinus fargesiana.

In an email to staff, Machiavello promised, “we will do our best to meet their needs in the first few years to ensure they outlive everyone alive today.” He also shared the inspiration he brings to his work, “Trees, just like children, are special beings and have a unique personality and way of growing.... We, as teachers are here to help them become the best they can be.”

Garden education instructors are teaming with Machiavello and the landscaping crews to turn the tree planting timed around Earth Day and Arbor Day into a teachable moment.
Every day is Earth Day in our school gardens! Some of the lesson topics covered in grades 1-5 aligned specifically to Earth Day are listed in the image above.
Class for Law and Social Justice Students Held Inside San Quentin State Prison
Students are clamoring to sign up for James Dopman’s Law and Social Justice class, in part because of the extraordinary experiences beyond the classroom walls that are an integral part of the curriculum. Last week, class took place for 60 Berkeley High School students inside San Quentin State Prison. 

According to Dopman, “The trip for Law and Social Justice students to San Quentin shatters the media image of what prison is and what it can be. The experience teaches students that prisons should be about punishment and rehabilitation simultaneously, and that as human beings we are more than the worst thing we have ever done.”

Law and Social Justice students study the checks and balances built into the Constitution and legal foundations and are taught regularly by guest lecturers directly involved with the criminal justice system and social justice reform. As is the case with the visit to San Quentin, the ride alongs with the Berkeley Police Department, observation of courtroom proceedings in San Francisco, and lectures at Berkeley Law are all part of the field experiences at the center of deep learning for students built into the course. 

After three years of developing this class and building on its successes, Dopman will be teaching Law and Social Justice II for the first time in the coming school year. He's designed an advanced level course for 12th graders that's being added to complete the Career Technical Education Law and Social Justice pathway. 

Read more about the new class online .
Above, students hear inmates discuss their crimes and their paths towards accepting their actions and learning from those actions. Below, students are shown inside the prison to see how inmates are housed.
Annual Black History Oratorical Fest: Jewel in Our School District
BUSD’s second annual Black History Oratorical Fest won warm and enthusiastic audience applause and heartfelt praise.

The performances by elementary and secondary students in the Longfellow auditorium – many featuring original compositions – were powerful expressions of confronting injustice with strength and pride, vividly displaying the poise, talent and awareness of important issues possessed by BUSD youth.

School Board Vice President Beatriz Leyva-Cutler spoke of the extraordinary performances, “It was just a great example of our students’ energy, creativity, their voice, the inspiration they carry with them. There was a light that shined brightly in all the students that performed.” Board member Ka’Dijah Brown, who served as a contest judge, called the Fest “one of the jewels of the District.”

More images of the event and a few of the original pieces are posted on the district website .
Thousand Oaks 5th Graders Enact Local World War II Stories of Struggle
Another moving and impressive demonstration of the performing talents of BUSD students could be seen recently at Thousand Oaks. Fifth graders took to the stage to portray an important and stained chapter in American history. 

Their play, The Pearls of Richmond , written and directed by teacher Jeni Wendel, told the stories of three families during those difficult times, illustrating the incarceration of Japanese Americans sent to harsh relocation camps, the lives of African-Americans from the South who found work in the shipyards, and the women, like Rosie the Riveter, who took on factory jobs after much of the male labor force joined the military.

“We interviewed survivors of the internment camps and went to hear Rosie the Riveters and Betty Reid Soskin talk about their experience,” Ms. Wendel said about the production. “These stories are a combination of many people’s experiences during this important time for our area.”
BUSD Music Program Welcomes Spring with Music in the Air
From Jazz Girls Day to middle school recitals to the annual Performing Arts Showcase, it’s clear that spring has sprung and music is in the air. In early March, nearly 1,000 students in grades 5-12 shared their musical talents during a three-hour performance to an adoring audience. The Showcase was a thrilling culmination for teachers and students of the many months of planning, preparation, and musical study. Students performed an array of orchestral, band, mariachi, jazz and choral productions under the guidance of our stellar music teachers, as detailed in the event program .

As a result of a long-standing partnership between BUSD’s Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) Department and the Berkeley Symphony, the Berkeley Symphony and the BHS Jazz Ensemble joined together in a stellar performance recently held in UC’s Zellerbach Hall. According to Program Supervisor, Pete Gidlund, “This specific event came about due to Sarah Cline's approach teaching- always wanting to challenge her students with new experiences.”
Go behind the scenes with BHS students in this fun clip of their practice session held in preparation for taking the stage with the Berkeley Symphony.

The vibrant teaching and learning of music in our schools is possible because of generous funding from the Berkeley Schools Excellence Program (BSEP) and strong community partners, such as the Berkeley Symphony and the Berkeley Public Schools Fund, who are committed to bringing music education to every child.
School Board Sends Letter to Families Regarding District Budget
An email letter from the school board was sent to all BUSD family emails* on file regarding the district's budget, including needed reductions made over the last two years and a plea asking families to join their advocacy efforts to secure more state education funding for California's public schools ranked 41st in per-pupil funding.**

*If you are a BUSD parent and did not receive the email, please ask school office staff to update your email in Illuminate.

**This ranking is adjusting for cost of living in each state.
School Board Discusses Employee Housing;
Authorizes Preliminary Study
The proposal to build an affordable housing development for BUSD employees took two more steps forward last Wednesday night, April 10.

The Board chose possibly developable land at two BUSD-owned properties – the Berkeley Adult School and West Campus – as the two sites to be evaluated for their employee housing potential, and it also authorized the District to issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) to conduct a preliminary study.

More details are on the district website .
Upcoming Events & Meetings
Berkeley Schools Excellence Program (BSEP) Planning & Oversight Committee
Subcommittee on Communication, Translation, Community Engagement (19-20 Plan)
April 16, 2019 at 7:00pm
2020 Bonar Street, Room 126

The P&O Committee, mandated by the BSEP Measure and comprised of representatives from
every school, meets regularly to:
  • Review the implementation of the many aspects of the BSEP Measure, ranging from Class Size Reduction to Music & the Arts, from Technology to Professional Development for Teachers, and much more;
  • Ensure that BSEP funds are spent in compliance with the Measure;
  • Make annual recommendations to the School Board for the use of BSEP dollars.
The BSEP P&O meetings are open to the public and include an opportunity for public comment. More information is available on the BSEP webpage .
School Board Meetings
April 24 & May 8, 7:30pm

All regular Board meetings are held in the Board Room, 1231 Addison St., and are streamed live and archived on the BUSD YouTube Channel .

School board meeting agendas/materials are posted at least 72 hours before meetings on the School Board Meeting Information page of our website.
School Calendar
2019-20 School Year Calendar Released
The first day of school for the 2019-20 school year in the Berkeley Unified School District will be Monday, August 26, 2019.

The full academic school year calendar is posted on the district calendar webpage.
Berkeley Unified School District | 2020 Bonar Street | 510-644-8764 | www.berkeleyschools.net