Warm Wishes for the Holidays
December 20, 2019
Dear BUSD Colleagues –
For a few minutes at a time, I’m reading The Book of Joy by Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama. Because there are so many things going on all the time – like work, family, house cleaning, and errands – I’ve been reading the book for a few months. I find myself turning down the corner of a lot of pages, and then coming back to re-read certain passages. After working for many years in public education, with its inspiring moments and heavy emotional dips, I suppose I’m finding a message that I need.
Here’s an example of something in the book from Archbishop Tutu:
“Discovering more joy does not, I’m sorry to say, save us from the inevitability of hardship and heartbreak. In fact, we may cry more easily, but we will laugh more easily, too. Perhaps we are just more alive. Yet as we discover more joy, we can face suffering in a way that ennobles rather than embitters.”
As I’ve been getting to know Berkeley this year, one of my most steady impressions is that we are a community that cares. I’ve met so many BUSD staff members who put both skill and heart into their work, investing deeply in their work as a way to give back to their communities. This can lead us to worry, of course, because not all of our efforts to support young people and their families are successful. But I deeply admire these efforts, and I especially admire that so many of you keep a smile on your face, especially when the going gets rough. When you do this, you embody hope.
We’re all going to get some time to rest in the next two weeks. I hope you’ll rest well, take care of yourself, and find moments of joy. I think that this self-care is also giving to your community; it’s the foundation of emotional health that makes it possible to bring your full and joyful selves to work – and to share this with the young people we serve. It helps make it possible to laugh and to cry genuinely.
Please accept my warm wishes for a safe and happy Holiday season. I’m looking forward to our service together in 2020.
Air Quality Guidance to BUSD Schools
October 28, 2019
Dear Colleagues –
This Monday morning, October 28, the East Bay region has experienced a rise in Air Quality Index (AQI). The AQI is a measure of airborne contaminants that is maintained by the federal government.
Based on regional reports from airnow.gov, here are this morning’s readings.
The Bay Area Air Quality Management District provides more local air quality data. This report, which describes air quality conditions with a lag time of about three hours, shows AQI levels reaching 124 at Aquatic Park at 5:00 am, and reaching levels of 158 by 8:00 am.
Readings at this level are considered to be “Unhealthy”, including children and adults with medical sensitivities, like asthma. The federal government states: “People with heart or lung disease, older adults, and children should avoid prolonged or heavy exertion. Everyone else should reduce prolonged or heavy exertion.”
CDE’s guidelines for air quality provide a helpful starting point to interpreting these AQI scores. AQI readings of 124 are described in this way: “Exercise indoors or avoid vigorous outdoor activities. Sensitive individuals should remain indoors.”
Additionally, California Interscholastic Federation rules prohibit competitive play when AQI conditions exceed 151. These rules state: “An air quality index of less than 151 must be registered for all high school outdoor athletic events hosted by NCS member schools during preseason, league and section championship events. NCS member schools may not host outdoor contests when the AQI is equal to or greater than 151.”
In keeping with these sources of information and guidance, BUSD schools are directed in the following way:
For today, October 28:
Out of an abundance of caution, and in keeping with the most timely measures of air quality for the Berkeley area, recess and PE should take place indoors today at all BUSD schools.
Sports practice may proceed this afternoon, but coaches are advised to restrict activities that require vigorous exertion.
As a final note, BUSD is issuing N95 masks to employees who work outside; additional information about masks for other employees will follow shortly. Please also note that medical professionals advise that masks are not effective for students; instead, students should remain indoors when air quality conditions require it.
Thank you for your attention to this advisory.
Brent Stephens, Ed.D.
October 10 Town Hall Meeting to Discuss BUSD March 2020 Ballot Measures
September 30, 2019
Parents and guardians, students, BUSD staff and the Berkeley community are encouraged to attend an October 10 Town Hall Meeting to discuss three ballot measures, including a new measure aimed at recruitment and retention of teachers, which the BUSD Board may approve for the March 2020 election.
The first reading of the proposed new measure language will occur at the November 6 Board meeting, followed by a second reading and a Motion for approval at the November 20 Board meeting. This positions the District to submit the Measures for the December deadline.
What: Community engagement Town Hall meeting regarding BUSD 2020 Ballot Measures.
When: October 10, 2019 at 6:00 p.m.
Where: Auditorium at Longfellow Middle School: 1500 Derby St., Berkeley
About the Measures
Measure H: Maintenance Parcel Tax (up for renewal)
Measure I: Facilities Bond
New Measure: Educator Recruitment and Retention Parcel Tax
Your feedback regarding these ballot Measures is important.
Brent Stephens, Ed.D.
Welcome Back! Berkeley Optimistic!
August 26, 2019
Welcome Back! Let’s have a wonderful 2019-2020 school year together!
On behalf of Berkeley Unified School District Board of Education and every member of the BUSD team, please accept my best wishes for a successful school year.
As a student, I loved the energy of the new school year. It seemed like a moment for renewed friendships, fresh starts, and new learning experiences. At the beginning of the year, everything seems full of promise. My message to our students: As you start the school year, enjoy this time of the year, lay a strong foundation for the coming months, and feel confident that your hard work and positive attitude will pay off!
Parents, guardians, and caregivers – welcome back to you as well. We value your partnership, caring, and many contributions to the health of our schools. Thank you!
To our educators, I hope you’ve had a wonderful summer, whether you were away or continued to work in our schools. We appreciate that you’ve been thinking all summer long about the coming schools, making plans, and resting up. The work you do to guide our young people is an invaluable service to the Berkeley community. Please know that you are valued and respected.
To our staff, who work in so many ways to support our classrooms, thank you and welcome back. Many of you worked all summer long, sometimes at the most intense pace of the year, to prepare for 2019-2020. This summer, you helped with renovations, cleaning, hiring, opening and closing budgets, and so much more. Thank you for these efforts – they make a real difference.
To our many supportive community partners, welcome back to you as well. BUSD is fortunate to have such a broad range of partners who care deeply about our young people.
This year also brings some new faces to our schools and central office. If you are new to Berkeley, like I am, welcome aboard. As I’ve learned, we’re joining a great team that is rightfully proud of its many accomplishments. Let’s add our energy to this wonderful community, where all are welcome and we see so many signs of commitment to equity and fairness.
My very best for a wonderful start to the 2019-2020 school year. Please take a moment to enjoy this welcome back video showing our “Berkeley Optimistic” team!
Brent Stephens, Ed.D.
¡Dar una buena acogida! Berkeley optimista!
26 de agosto, 2019
Estimados miembros de la comunidad de Berkeley Unified School District –
En nombre de la Junta de Educación del Distrito Escolar Unificado de Berkeley y de cada miembro del equipo de BUSD, acepte mis mejores deseos para un año escolar exitoso.
Hace años, me encantó la energía del nuevo año escolar. Parecía un momento para nuevas amistades, nuevos comienzos y nuevas experiencias de aprendizaje. A principios de año, todo parece estar lleno de promesas. Mi mensaje para nuestros estudiantes: Al comenzar el año escolar, disfruten esta época del año, establezcan una base sólida para los próximos meses y confíen en que su trabajo y actitud positiva valdrán la pena
Padres, tutores y cuidadores: bienvenidos también a ustedes. Valoramos su colaboración, amor y muchas contribuciones al bienestar de nuestras escuelas. ¡Gracias!
Para nuestros educadores, espero que hayan tenido un verano maravilloso, ya sea que hayan estado fuera del trabajo o continuaron trabajando en nuestras escuelas. Apreciamos que usted haya pensado todo el verano en el próximo año escolar, haciendo planes y descansando. El trabajo que realiza para guiar a nuestros jóvenes es un servicio invaluable para la comunidad de Berkeley. Por favor sepa que usted es valorado y respetado.
A nuestro personal, que trabaja de muchas maneras para apoyar el salón de clases, gracias y bienvenidos de nuevo. Muchos de ustedes trabajaron durante todo el verano, a veces al ritmo más intenso, para prepararse para 2019-2020. Este verano, ayudó con renovaciones, limpieza, contratación, apertura y cierre de presupuestos, y mucho más. Gracias por estos esfuerzos porque hacen una verdadera diferencia.
A nuestros socios comunitarios, bienvenidos también a ustedes. BUSD tiene la suerte de tener una gama tan amplia de socios que se preocupan profundamente por nuestros jóvenes.
Este año también trae algunas caras nuevas a nuestras escuelas y oficinas centrales. Si eres nuevo en Berkeley, como yo, bienvenido. Como he aprendido, nos unimos a un gran equipo que está orgulloso de sus muchos logros. Agreguemos nuestra energía a una comunidad maravillosa, donde todos son bienvenidos y vemos muchas señales de compromiso con la equidad y la equidad.
Mis más sinceros deseos para un maravilloso comienzo del año escolar 2019-2020. ¡Tómese un momento para disfrutar de este video de bienvenida que muestra a nuestro equipo “Berkeley Optimistic”!
Brent Stephens, Ed.D.