Welcome Back from Bill Huyett – August 22, 2011
August 22, 2011
Dear Teachers & Staff,
Welcome back to school! I hope you had a great summer. Our work together this past year brought progress on many fronts. Now, with the start of the 2011-12 school year, we have new opportunities and challenges to improve the lives and futures of Berkeley’s children.
Whether you are driving a school bus, providing outreach to parents, maintaining one of our many facilities, working in an administrative function, teaching in a classroom, or serving in any one of the many other important capacities in this district, you are integral to ensuring that our schools are highly effective centers of learning. I want to highlight the following priorities as critical to our continued success:
· Effective communication and service
· Quality instruction
· Intervention through RTI/ULSS* model
· Safety and school attendance, and
· Kindergarten readiness, and early literacy.
Communicating effectively and providing quality service to our schools, families, and community benefits all of our children. Several initiatives to improve our responsiveness to parents, families, and staff are underway, including developing standards for responding to parent concerns, formal complaints, and using technology to provide quick access to information and digital communication tools.
Quality instruction and intervention are of utmost importance to our success. We have steadily improved student performance in the K-8 program by supporting highly skilled teachers teaching the core content standards while enriching our schools with libraries, music, and the arts. Our high schools, through the WASC accreditation self study, are in the process of improving standards based curriculum, instruction and assessment practices. We will continue to offer classroom and school-based intervention strategies and support services for all students who need them, and, in particular for students of color, second language learners, students with disabilities, and our socio-economically disadvantaged students.
This year we have strong community support for the district’s goals of improved school safety and attendance, Kindergarten readiness and early literacy. We know that in order for students to achieve at the highest levels they have to attend school consistently ready to learn when class starts. It is equally important that they feel welcomed and safe in our schools. The district-wide average attendance for last school year was 93%. This rate of attendance is equal to every BUSD student missing 12 out of the 180 school days. We intend to increase average attendance to 96% this year.
We are uniting people, programs, and resources, together with our 2020 Vision Partners (the City, the University, and community organizations). I encourage you to support these goals and help us increase awareness about the importance of attendance and building eager learners and strong readers so all of our children can succeed in school and in life.
I am thankful that we have such a talented and dedicated staff. Berkeley is a wonderful place to be and I appreciate you choosing to work in this district. Together I know we will continue to improve our service to families even during difficult fiscal times. Thank you.
* RTI/ULSS – Response to Intervention/Universal Learning Support System is the acronym used to describe the academic, emotional, social, and health support services that are available to students both in and outside the classroom.