Top 10 List
Top Ten Ways to Improve Our Schools
1. Track down every available dollar to directly benefit students.
Maximize external funds from state, federal and other programs as well as efficiencies in operations and move every possible dollar to the classroom. BUSD receives over $13,000 per student; the average California K-12 district receives under $9,000 per student. We are a leader in per student funding; we should be leading in student achievement gains.
2. Evaluate programs—fund those that work.
At Berkeley High instructional time in science was reduced without evaluation of how additional lab time supported student learning. Berkeley High’s Small Schools have never been evaluated yet new ones are added. Regular program evaluation must be an integral part of each school site’s governance and goal-setting process. What programs work at your school site?
3. Strengthen summer school—bring kids up to grade level.
Instead of decentralized programs lacking in curricular focus, develop rich, developmentally appropriate curriculum and recruit experienced teachers to focus on bringing students up to grade level with targeted teaching strategies. Summer school is the missed opportunity to close the “gap.”
4. Implement our 16 school site plans.
Each K-12 school site is required by the California Dept. of Education to have an annual plan to increase student achievement. Energy and financial resources should be targeted at the school level and specifically on student needs. Link the budget process to school site plans.
5. Keep kids in school—reduce truancy.
Our district loses over $3 million per year in state revenue due to poor student attendance. Truancy contributes to lower student achievement and drug and alcohol problems. Target attendance.
6. Plan before you build and build what you plan.
School facilities are the big $$$’s in a district. Good facility master planning and construction management and oversight can maximize the invested dollars and hold spending to critical needs.
7. Allocate resources equitably.
Resource allocation—especially of teachers and staff—should fluctuate with changes in the student population and in facility size. To make this allocation process fair and equitable, schools should monitor ratios of class size, counselors and administrators to students, and correct accordingly.
8. Use technology to improve operations and connect with the community.
Automate functions to eliminate paper shuffling—student attendance, student records, textbook tracking, and more. Use technology to provide public information and survey community input.
9. Track assets—maintain assets.
Textbooks, computers, desks, buildings and grounds all need to be tracked and evaluated for maintenance and replacement. Each year BUSD loses thousands of dollars in lost textbooks.
10. Adopt sound policies and follow them.
BUSD should have written policies and procedures that are understood and followed by staff.