Berkeley School Board adopts compensation guidelines, hears about new funding

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At its meeting Wednesday, the Berkeley Unified School District Board of Education adopted new classification and compensation guidelines for some of their staff and heard a presentation about the impact of the new state budget on funding for the district.

The classification study, which began in February 2013 and was conducted by Ewing Consulting, Inc., revised the job descriptions of many classified staff positions, which encompass all employees without teaching credentials. The first drafts of the new descriptions were disseminated to classified employees for feedback in the summer of 2013, and, after a series of appeals, were finalized in March of last year.

The compensation study, which began in February 2014, used these guidelines to examine the salary ranges of classified employees in nearby districts and provide recommendations for salaries of the district’s classified employees.

“Periodically it’s important to take a look at how your salary and job descriptions match up with other districts in your region,” said Judy Appel, president of the board. “(The study) was a great opportunity to make sure we’re treating our employees fairly.”

After a series of appeals and finalizations, the Personnel Commission approved the studies during their meetings on Nov. 17 and 18 before they were adopted by the board last night. Some current salaries fall above, while others fall below the study’s recommendations.

During the meeting, Deputy Superintendent Javetta Cleveland gave a report to the board about the impact of the new state budget on Berkeley schools.

The state budget provides a one-time allocation of $1.2 billion to schools as part of the Proposition 98 Minimum Guarantee, which increased over the past two years. Proposition 98 requires 40 percent of the general fund to be spent on education and the Berkeley Unified School District will receive $1.6 million of this one-time allocation.

In addition to the Proposition 98 funds, the budget allotted $4 billion to the Local Control Funding Formula, a new strategy for funding schools. Berkeley School District will receive $3.8 million of this LCFF funding.

According to Appel, the district plans to spend the additional funds on implementing the Common Core curriculum, improving their parent engagement office and developing both their literacy programs and restorative justice efforts, which seek alternatives to traditional disciplinary action.

Budget reductions of at least $5 million in previous years have caused the district to spend money from their reserves and rely on parent donations to the PTA, according to Christine Staples, secretary for the Berkeley PTA Council in an email.

“Certainly we are all relieved to have more money coming in from the state after years of budget cuts,” Staples said. “However, we are still bouncing back from (other) years.”

Sonja Hutson covers student government. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @SonjaHutson.