Natasha Beery, Director of BSEP and Community Relations
Valerie Tay, Program Specialist
Elizabeth Karam, Senior Budget Analyst
Vacant, Account Technician
2020 Bonar Street
Berkeley, CA 94702
Phone: (510) 644-8717
Fax: (510) 644-8923
Hours: Monday – Friday, 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Our community’s response to school funding shortages since 1986
What is the Berkeley Schools Excellence Program?
A community response to school funding shortages in the wake of Prop. 13, the Berkeley Schools Excellence Project (BSEP) has made a huge difference in the quality of our children’s education since 1986. This special local tax won the approval of 82% of the voters in 1994, and 92% in 1998. Measure A revenues will total about $23 million in 2011-12. The 10-year measure was approved by the voters in November 2006 with Yes votes from 79.68% of the voters. The money is allocated as follows:
- Smaller Class Sizes, Expanded Course Offerings, and Middle School Counseling Services (66%)
- Programs to Enhance Student Learning, including school site programs (10.25%), school libraries (7.25%), music, visual and performing arts (6.25%), and parent outreach programs (1.25%)
- Professional Development and Educational Program Evaluation and Technology for Schools (9%)
- Before the money is divided into the the three categories above, 2% is taken for support of the Planning & Oversight Committee, translation, and public information
Click here for the text of the ballot measures.
How to Spend School Funds? It’s Up To The Schools…
Unique among the BSEP funds, the BSEP Site Discretionary funds (over $2 million in 2011-12) go directly to each school, where an elected School Governance Council of parents and staff (and, at Berkeley High, the BSEP Committee, which includes students) decides how best to use these funds. The purpose of these funds is to support student achievement while also providing a broad range of learning experiences. Each school’s use of these funds is unique. Thanks to the creativity of the School Governance Councils (and the generosity of Berkeley voters), these school-based programs support and supplement the classroom’s core curriculum in many areas, including:
- Academic Support: Literacy Coaches, Tutors & Afterschool support, English Language Development Teachers, College/Career Advisers, Berkeley High R.I.S.E. program, WriterCoach Connection program, Kindergarten readiness program, books, instructional materials & software, document cameras & other equipment
- The Arts: Music, Drama & Art classes, field trips to performances, assemblies, Museum of Children’s Art (MOCHA) program, Drummer for Afro-Haitian Dance class
- Science: Americorps volunteers for Garden Program, science kits, equipment, and lab supplies
- Social-Emotional Support: Universal Learning Support Services (ULSS) support, mentors, mental health counseling, parent education, Mosaic outdoor diversity program, Student Court, Physical Education.
Thoughtful Oversight of Funds
Among the cities that have created local tax initiatives to supplement their schools’ budgets, Berkeley’s BSEP measure is unusual in that it earmarks the purposes for fund expenditures, and requires extensive parent involvement in planning and overseeing those expenditures. The BSEP Planning and Oversight (P&O) Committee ensures that funds are spent in compliance with the BSEP Measure.The Committee has representatives from each of Berkeley’s Pre-K-12 schools.
Before BSEP funds are spent, spending proposals are discussed in Planning & Oversight subcommittees, as well as receiving two readings at the P&O. After approval by the P&O, the proposals are sent to the School Board for approval. More information on the Planning & Oversight Committee is found by clicking here.
BSEP funds almost one-third of Berkeley’s classroom teachers as well as other vital programs intrinsic to an excellent education. The continuing generosity of Berkeley taxpayers has strengthened Berkeley schools and given Berkeley public school children many opportunities for quality education which they would not otherwise have.
While BSEP supports what goes on in schools, support for the school buildings themselves is provided by another special tax, Measure H of 2010 and its predecessor, Measure BB of 2000. Measure H provides funds for maintenance of school district buildings, as well as landscaping and grounds work.. The text of Measure H can be found here. Further information is found here.