Since the founding of the University of California, Berkeley in 1868 and the establishment of Berkeley’s first high school in 1879, Berkeley’s community has been proud to be a leader in public education. In 1968, the Berkeley Unified School District was one of the first school districts in America to desegregate without a court order. What you should know about our District:
- Students are our priority.
- We take pride in our diversity.
- We hold high expectations for ourselves and our students.
- We treat each other with respect and act with integrity.
Berkeley Unified is responsible for educating more than 9,400 individual students in 11 public elementary schools, 3 middle schools, one comprehensive high school, and an alternative high school. In addition, the district has 3 preschool facilities and an Adult School serving several thousand students each year. With a tradition of excellence rooted in a vibrant community, Berkeley Unified alumni have become national and international leaders in business, civic society, politics, academia, sports and the arts. Students and staff in Berkeley Unified come from a wide variety of ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, surrounded by one of the most intellectually and culturally rich regions in the United States.
The Mission, Vision, Values, and Goals of Berkeley Unified are encapsulated in the four E’s:
Excellence in Learning, in Teaching, and in Service to our Students and Families
Equity in Access, in Resource Allocation, and Educational Outcomes
Engagement with Parents, Guardians, Families, and Community
Enrichment in Curriculum with Music & the Arts, Libraries, Gardens & Nutrition, Science & Health, Physical Education & Sports
Parent and Community Involvement
The Vision for BUSD is one in which parents, family, and community are an integral part of each school. When parents and families get personally involved in education, their children do better in school and grow up to be more successful in life. This is why Berkeley has dedicated resources and specialized staff to support the home-school partnership and to give all parents/guardians access to understanding opportunities and services available for their children.
Over the past 30 years, the Berkeley Unified School District’s ability to provide well-rounded educational resources and opportunities to all students has been significantly boosted by the generous financial support of local taxes that augment the General Fund for specific purposes.
Berkeley voters have overwhelmingly supported the Berkeley Schools Excellence Program (BSEP), a special local tax first adopted in 1986 and renewed consistently since then, most recently as Measure E1 in 2016 with 88% Yes votes. (1986 to present)
Berkeley voters are as committed to the safety and modernization of school and district facilities as to the students and educational programs they house, most recently evidenced in the renewal of a maintenance special tax and a new facilities bond in 2010.
- Facilities Bonds (1992, Measure BB of 2002, Measure I of 2010, Measure G of 2020)
- Maintenance Parcel Tax (Measure H of 2010)
Very Low Class Size
Berkeley Public schools have among the lowest class sizes in the state. While many school districts have exceeded 20 students in kindergarten through third grade, thanks to the BSEP tax measure Berkeley has maintained 20:1 since 1984. Grades 4 and 5 classrooms have average student-teacher ratios of 26-1, again much lower than the state average.
- All Berkeley elementary schools have fewer students than the state average of 525 students — in fact the Berkeley average is 375.
- The average student-teacher ratio in academic classrooms in the middle school is less than 28:1, and many math classes are 20:1.
- The average student-teacher ratio in academic classrooms in the high schools is 28:1.
Because the Berkeley community recognizes that public education is the cornerstone of a productive, creative, and healthy society, all of our schools benefit from the generosity of monetary and in-kind donations. Visit our “Public Support” page to find out more about the generosity and commitment of our supporters and how the many different funding and volunteer organizations enhance each child’s education in the Berkeley Public Schools.
In 2008, Berkeley Unified joined forces with the City of Berkeley, the University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley Alliance, and several community partners to approve the 2020 Vision for Berkeley’s Children and Youth. The vision was created to address the longstanding achievement gap between different student populations in the Berkeley Unified School District and to ensure the health and well being of all of its students, regardless of race. The 2020 Partnership has encouraged a new level of citywide collaboration and agreement around targeted priorities and use of resources. The current shared priorities focus on key areas that affect student success: Kindergarten Readiness, Proficient Readers by Third Grade, Attendance, Math Achievement, and Career and College Readiness.