TOGETHER WE CAN
Dear Berkeley Resident,
Spring is a special time of year in the schools when we marvel at the many ways our students have grown and matured, and all they have learned and experienced over the school year. Soon many of us will gather together for the annual high school graduation ceremony at UC Berkeley’s Greek Theater and congratulate over 700 students of the graduating class of 2015 for their hard work and perseverance. We have much to celebrate in this spring season of culminating events and new beginnings.
This year we increased our focus on professional development for our teachers and staff, and on supporting our students’ social and emotional well-being through positive behavior programs, such as our popular Toolbox curriculum. We also used new state revenue to improve services to high need students, including our students learning English, foster youth, and those qualifying for Free and Reduced Lunch as outlined in Berkeley’s Local Control & Accountability Plan (LCAP).
With state coffers growing with our economy, we anticipate the restoration of state funding for K-12 public education to continue, although schools are still not back to the funding levels of 2007. Our most pressing financial challenge is how to meet the state’s new pension mandate while continuing to invest in the high quality education our children deserve, and providing our dedicated teachers and staff with competitive pay and health benefits.
We are proud that greater numbers of our students are experiencing school success. Data from a recent national report shows Berkeley students far surpassing state and national college attendance rates. Eighty-seven percent of our Berkeley High School graduates enter college within the first two years after high school, which is well above the 63% of students nationwide in our comparison group.
As you will read inside this report, our improvement efforts have also resulted in a greater percentage of our students graduating high school. We have made significant progress toward the goal of improving outcomes for all students as set forth in Berkeley’s 2020 Vision, and yet we know there is much more work to do.
Together we can continue to be deliberate in our allocation of resources, and work closely with our school communities to ensure all of our students have the social-emotional and academic skills for a lifetime of learning and success.
In partnership and gratitude,
Donald Evans, Ed.D.