4.

As enrollment has surged, most schools’ support staff -- be it in the office, the cafeteria, or on the playground -- serves an increasing number of students. What will you do as a Board member to quickly assess and address the lack of adequate support staff and resources throughout our schools?

Answers: 
Ty Alper

Many parents are concerned that staffing levels are inappropriate to meet the needs of all students, and the varying needs of each school. It doesn’t necessarily work for every elementary school to have the same amount of administrative and support staff, regardless of the number of students at the school. A sensible approach would be to have a minimum level of staffing at every school, and then a long-term, transparent formula for additional staff based on the size, density, and capacity of the school. A similar formula exists at the middle school level for administrative staffing, and it is not hard to envision how one could be developed for the elementary schools.

Josh Daniels

As Board President, I set forth a 4-meeting plan to the challenges we face from increasing elementary school enrollment. On October 8, the board looked at the data on each elementary school – e.g., how many classrooms were being used, how many classrooms were used for other purposes. We also looked at demographic trends, which indicate that we’ll need 4-6 new classrooms for fall 2015.

The second meeting – occurring on November 5 – will begin the discussion of options. We have already been soliciting input from the community on potential options and many have written. (I encourage you to do so by emailing me at joshdaniels@berkeley.net as well as the Superintendent.) The third and fourth meetings will include vetting the options and settling on one or more of them by February.

There were some at the October 8 board meeting who advocated for a much quicker timeline. While I agree with the urgency, I am a strong believer in ensuring open and transparent decision, especially when it comes to decisions as difficult as these. This 4-meeting plan doesn’t push anything off the table and ensures that the process through which the board settles on options will be made transparently and in public.

For more information, see the last item in the October 8 board meeting packet here (http://www.berkeleyschools.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Packet-10-08-2014.pdf) and the video of the discussion is here (http://vimeo.com/108847685).

Norma J F Harrison

We’ll look to finding the funds to hire enough personnel – teaching staff as well as support staff, - as always – as always not able to be made to accommodate the needs no matter how much the board, the candidates, and the other electeds and candidates say this will be a primary concern to them.

Karen Hemphill

I believe that we should review the new staffing model that the Board adopted last year – based largely upon input from school site principals (and slightly modified this year so that the enrollment threshold of having a vice principal for an elementary school was lowered) to evaluate whether the expanded staffing that was enacted through the model met school site needs this year and adjust next year based upon this year’s experiences.

Julie Sinai

While on the School Board I have expressed my agreement and concern that the way we are staffing our schools is not equitable. We heard from our Malcolm families about the stress placed on staff with the rapidly growing enrollment and we responded with increased administrative and supervision staffing. Yet, there are other needs, like when I visited Malcolm X during lunch and saw two employees working the very long lunch line trying help students get their meal in a timely fashion. We need a district wide approach to balancing our staffing resources. I, along with my colleagues on the Board, have requested the Superintendent to bring forward the staffing formulas that also include instructional supports – Special Education, RTI, Literacy and Math coaches, ELD coaches and Family Engagement staff. As we begin deliberations on our budget and review the LCAP, I will be asking the Superintendent to develop recommendations for equitable and affordable staffing ratios.