October 31, 2018
A+ News
Happy Halloween!
In this Edition:
  • A is for Alphie
  • Superintendent's Budget Advisory Committee
  • Parent-Teacher Conferences
  • New Director of Nutrition Services
  • Reading with Audiobooks
  • Berkeley Marathon - Run for the Schools Fund!
  • Superintendent Speaker Series - Dr. Frank Worrell
  • State of the District Presentation & Workshops; Other Upcoming Events/Meetings
A Is for Alphie, the Alphabet-Loving Alligator
There’s a new member of the BUSD family who really stands out – which is quite a feat when you’re only a foot tall.

He’s bright green and furry, and his name is “Alphie.” As you might guess from his name, he works with the alphabet.

Alphie – an alligator puppet – is helping strengthen the way we teach phonic and phonemic awareness so that children understand the relationship between letters and sounds as they learn to read.

Our curriculum has included phonics in the past, but this school year we’re introducing a more explicit and systematic approach, using the FastTrack Phonics program. We’re also devoting more time to this crucial building block for reading – 20 minutes or more daily for students in all K-3 classrooms, the most formative school years for literacy.

“For many years BUSD has struggled with a pronounced achievement/opportunity gap,” says Maggie Riddle, the BUSD Director of Schools. In a report on FastTrack Phonics presented to the School Board in June, Ms. Riddle noted, “Too many of our African American and English Language Learner students are not at grade level reading proficiency by the end of 3rd grade.
Research shows that students who do not read proficiently by the end of third grade can continue to struggle with reading throughout the rest of their education. Phonics instruction is an essential component of a balanced literacy program to address the needs of our diverse learners and close the reading gap.”

Read the full story about the new phonics program on our webpage.
Superintendent Budget Advisory Committee Looking at Current Budget Challenges and Priorities
The Superintendent's Budget Advisory Committee (SBAC) is one of the key means by which staff and community stakeholders have an opportunity to participate in deliberations and recommendations for district budget priorities. The 17 voting members include eight community participants alongside BUSD union representatives and key district staff.
In response to what some are referring to as a "silent recession" faced by California public school districts due to the pressure of rising costs and inadequate state revenues, the Berkeley School Board has asked District staff to identify possible reductions of up to $2 million from the District Budget for the 2019-20 school fiscal year. This comes on the heels of nearly $1.8 million in budget reductions made for the current school year, which brought the BUSD budget into a forecasted balance but did not leave room for the possibility of addressing staff compensation increases or other program priorities.
The first meeting of the SBAC for this school year was held on October 23. “This is not going to be easy,” Superintendent Evans told the committee, “The amount of money we receive from the state is not nearly enough." He noted that a large number of neighboring school districts are also facing the need to reduce expenses.
The SBAC timetable calls for the committee to finalize its recommendations by the end of January 2019 in order to bring recommendations to the Board in February for a decision in mid-March. The Governor’s preliminary budget comes out in January and the amount of education funding in that proposed budget will be part of the committee and Board deliberations.
The SBAC meetings are open to the public and include an opportunity for public comment. The next meeting of the SBAC is November 13, 5:00-6:30pm at 2020 Bonar Street, Room 126.
Parent-Teacher Conferences Coming Up!
Parent-Teacher Conferences are a great way to collaborate with your child’s teacher and strengthen the home-school partnership. We encourage every parent to take advantage of the opportunity to meet with your child’s teacher during Parent-Teacher Conference Week when students will be dismissed early. There is no school for students on November 2nd. If you have not done so already, please contact your teacher as soon as possible to make an appointment.

Here are some useful questions you may want to ask during the conference, and other tips you may want to consider in preparation for your conference time.
Annual Spotlight on After School: Lights on Afterschool !
On Thursday, Oct. 25, BUSD observed the 19th annual nationwide “Lights on Afterschool” event, which celebrates the important role that afterschool programs play in the lives of children, families and communities.
The observance drew more than 1 million participants across the country, according to the Washington D.C.-based Lights on Afterschool, a project of the Afterschool Alliance.
After-school academic support, recreational activities and enrichment classes are offered to students in all of our elementary and middle schools, most of which are run by the BUSD LEARNS and BEARS programs. 
Students in the LEARNS afterschool program at Berkeley Arts Magnet enjoy a science lesson on how airplanes fly.
Berkeley Schools Executive Chef Becomes Director of Nutrition Services
Bonnie Christensen has a passion for the role of good food in nurturing the growth of school children. Her work, and the delicious meals being served in our schools, was highlighted in an East Bay Express article this month, in which she was quoted as saying that "we really want to reflect the values of eating well on a daily basis...a lot of our practices are about sustainability, our children's health, the future, and the whole child." In her role as Executive Chef since 2007t, Bonnie helped turn Berkeley's school meals into the accredited BUSD healthy nutritious fresh food program that is a model for public school districts across the country.

She's now bringing her passion and commitment to healthy food and sustainable practices to her new role as the Director of Nutrition Services. Beyond efforts to address operational challenges such as staffing and improved service, Bonnie wants to offer more opportunities for community dialogue and input on nutrition services, to work closely with the district's garden and cooking program in order to maximize student exposure to fruits and vegetables and where their food comes from, and engage with students in the district's career technical education programs to share the importance of healthy eating and the breadth of exciting careers in the food industry.

To sum it all up in Bonnie's own words, "There is a great deal of enthusiasm and interest in our district community and I have a talented team behind me; my goal is to be engaged in a way that allows me to get the most from my team in the service of our community."
Long-time BUSD Executive Chef Bonnie Christensen was recently appointed Director of Nutrition Services.
Audiobooks Complement Literacy & Library Programs
“For many students listening to a book was the most positive literary experience of the year,” says Washington 5th grade teacher Annelisa Hedgecock.
Ms. Hedgecock was quoted in the the Oct. 26 blog post on our DigiTechTeach blog about the role of audiobooks in supporting our students’ reading ability and appreciation.

Thanks to free access to audiobooks through the District’s Tales2Go partnership with the Berkeley Public Library, students can access a wide variety of audiobooks to enjoy, and to pair with the print books they are reading, including some of those in the Mock Newbery Book Clubs in each of our elementary schools.
Run with the Schools Fund - Berkeley Marathon, Nov. 18
For the 6th year, the Berkeley Public Schools Fund is partnering with the Berkeley Half Marathon to raise funds for classroom grants, summer fellowships and volunteers in the classroom.
This year’s race takes place Sunday, Nov. 18, and includes several options: 5K, 10K and half marathon, in addition to a youth 5K. New this year is a family 1K walk, run or sprint the day before the marathon.
Check out the Schools Fund Half Marathon web page for details.
Upcoming Events & Meetings
Talent Development for All Students:
Rising to the Challenge
Dr. Frank Worrell, Thursday, November 1, 7pm

Dr. Frank Worrell is a professor in the Graduate School of Education at UC Berkeley, where he serves as Director of the School Psychology program, Faculty Director of the Academic Talent Development Program, and Faculty Director of the California College Preparatory Academy.

Dr. Worrell studies the psychological factors and educational contexts that promote talent development. He will address how schools and districts can provide equitable talent development opportunities for all. The evening program will include a discussion with Superintendent Evans of the information presented and an opportunity to ask Dr. Worrell your questions.

This is the first event in the superintendent's speaker series, Onward and Upward.
Thursday, November 1, at 7:00pm in the Longfellow Middle School Auditorium, 1500 Derby St.

Save the Date: Dr. Prudence L. Carter, Dean of the Graduate School of Education, Dec. 11 at 7pm.

See you there!
State of the District Presentation & Workshops: November 15
School Board Meetings
November 14, 7:30pm
November 28, 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.

No School:
November 2 - No School for Students
November 12 (Veterans Day)
November 19-23 (Thanksgiving Break)
Berkeley Unified School District | 2020 Bonar Street | 510-644-8764 | www.berkeleyschools.net