As students and staff settle in at school after winter break, I want to take a moment to share some ongoing conversations at the District about the middle school assignment policy, as well as our plan to engage in community-wide discussions as we consider any changes to this policy. Any discussion about the student assignment policy for our middle schools must be thoughtful, as it will involve a complex set of issues, concerns, interests, and impacts for our families.
In September, shortly after my arrival at BUSD, I recommended to the School Board that we take a several-month pause in the District’s work on this policy. Due to my newness to the District and to Berkeley, I felt it was necessary that I become familiar with our schools, students, families, and community before developing a thoughtful engagement plan for moving forward.
I am now working with staff on a community engagement plan that we will present to the School Board in the Spring. I expect this plan will include community meetings at middle schools; outreach to elementary school parents and guardians; and some special consideration of the Two-Way Immersion (TWI) community at Sylvia Mendez, due to the TWI connection to Longfellow. The District also recognizes the need for meaningful engagement with the Longfellow community, including long-time residents who have deep ties to the school.
We will be presenting themes and concerns raised during the community engagement phase, along with District considerations, via updates to the School Board several times during this academic year. The goal is to deliver a recommendation for an update to the middle school assignment policy to the School Board no later than November 2020. On this schedule, and depending on the School Board’s decision, a revised middle school assignment policy could be implemented for the 2021-2022 school year.
I will describe this community-engagement process in more detail as we complete work on the plan. I look forward to holding these very important conversations, in community, with BUSD families.
Brent Stephens, Ed.D.