BSEP: Our community’s investment in Berkeley’s public schools since 1986
What is the Berkeley Schools Excellence Program?
As a community response to school funding shortages in the wake of Proposition 13, the Berkeley Schools Excellence Project (BSEP) has made a huge difference in the quality of our children’s education. This special local tax was created in 1986 and has been renewed, expanded and approved with substantial voter support in 1994, 2004, and 2006. The current BSEP special tax (Measure A of 2006) provides revenues which total almost $25 million in 2014-15, representing about 20% of the District budget.
The BSEP measure allocates 2% of net funds for support of the work of the Planning & Oversight Committee, Public Information, and Translation. After that allocation, the remaining funds are allocated as follows:
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 2014-15) 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, 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, Dance & Art classes, Drummer for BHS Afro-Haitian Dance class, field trips to performances
- Science: Americorps volunteers for Garden Program, science kits, equipment, and lab supplies
- Social-Emotional Support: Response to Instruction and Intervention (RtI2) support, mentors, mental health counseling, parent education, school assemblies, 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.