Yes on E1: Support Berkeley schools

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Caragh McErlean/Staff

Voters who happen to care about young people, education, strong community schools and/or a reasonable future for Berkeley youth need to vote yes on E1: the Berkeley Schools Excellence Program.

In 1986, the first BSEP passed for a 10-year span. In light of falling state funding for K-12 public schools, Berkeley voters took matters into their own hands. After all, the burdens of lackluster state support shouldn’t fall on students.

Berkeley voters renewed the program in 2006, and now we have to do it again.

The updated version, which voters should unequivocally approve, would charge 37 cents per square foot of any taxable space — including homes and commercial space — and provide all of that funding to Berkeley Unified School District. This simplifies an old version that charged 29 cents for residential space and 43 cents for commercial space.

The measure very clearly stipulates that 66 percent of the funds will go toward high-quality instruction, which includes shrinking class sizes, developing staff and faculty, and expanding course offerings. Twenty-seven percent of the funding will go directly toward resources such as libraries, instruments and technology. Seven percent of the funds will go toward effective student support, which includes counseling resources and more outreach to families.

Rejecting E1 would amount to intense cuts to Berkeley Unified School District schools — an unthinkable prospect that would erase years of amazing progress made by the school district in closing achievement gaps and improving education for all. Berkeley schools retain their ability to succeed because of the funding provided by the excellence program. And great schools are a large part of what makes this community so family friendly and appealing.

We need to keep it up, and voting yes on E1 is the best way to help.

Endorsements represent the majority opinion of the Senior Editorial Board as written by the opinion editor.