City Council talks Berkeley Strategic Plan, 2020 Vision

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The Berkeley City Manager’s Office provided an update on a plan to improve the city’s ability to serve the Berkeley community and presented the positive progress of a city education initiative during a special Berkeley City Council meeting Tuesday.

The Berkeley Strategic Plan will identify long-term goals and specific priorities for the city in order to improve the community, while 2020 Vision — an initiative aimed at improving student outcomes in literacy and career preparedness — will continue to expand its services within the Berkeley Unified School District.

Goals in 11 areas such as workforce, social equity, infrastructure and environmental sustainability were identified by the strategic planning committee based on input from more than 660 city staff members, according to Timothy Burroughs, assistant to the city manager.

“(The committee will begin) the sometimes difficult work of identifying a set of specific priorities associated with each goal” now that they have been drafted, Burroughs said during the presentation.

The committee will also distribute a survey to the Berkeley community in October to refine the drafted goals based on input, Berkeley City Manager Dee Williams-Ridley said during the presentation. The results will be incorporated into a final draft of the strategic plan, which will then be submitted to City Council.

“Having a strategic plan won’t necessarily solve all of our challenges, and it won’t happen overnight,” Williams-Ridley said. “Because we are such an iconic city … it takes a lot of courage to say, ‘What things do we want to focus on, what things are important to us?’ ”

The city manager’s office also provided a status report on the 2020 Vision initiative, which started in 2008 and aims to end racial disparities in attendance, kindergarten readiness, math and reading proficiency and college and career readiness by the year 2020.

The city program reported a seven percent increase in third grade reading literacy across all demographics from 2015 and 2016, with a 15 percent increase in third grade reading literacy among Black or African-American students, Berkeley Unified School District’s Director of Special Projects and Programs Pat Saddler said during the presentation. Saddler also cited a 14 percent increase in the number of Berkeley High School graduates eligible to attend UC or CSU schools from 2012-13 to 2014-15.

“When you’re trying to solve complex social problems like racial inequity and something as nebulous as achievement gaps, you have to approach it systematically and work from a collective viewpoint,” 2020 Vision manager Cheryl Johnson said at the meeting.

Moving forward, the 2020 Vision program intends to pilot a new system to address issues affecting students who have suffered trauma, as well as improve wellness services for children ranging from prenatal to five years old. The initiative is also set to create the Berkeley Promise program, a college access and matriculation scholarship initiative.

During the special meeting, Mayor Tom Bates praised the initiative as “the most important thing I’ve been associated with” during his tenure as mayor.

“This has been a long road,” Bates said at the special meeting. “We started this in 2008. … It’s come together, and it’s magnificent, and it wouldn’t have happened were it not for the partnerships that were formed here.”

Contact Lillian Holmes at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @LillianQHolmes.