Berkeley Community Media to lose headquarters after 20 years of operation

Zahira Chaudhry/Staff

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Berkeley Community Media, or BCM, is losing its headquarters at Berkeley High School, or BHS, this summer after 20 years of operation.

BCM is a media production center that has been based at BHS for the last 20 years under an agreement that allows BCM to rent the space for free in exchange for broadcasting city meetings, including BUSD, Rent Stabilization Board and City Council meetings.

BCM business manager Don Bauer said he thinks BCM losing its headquarters is a loss to the students at BHS.

“I’m a believer in what we do and I believe that the high school students are missing out,” Bauer said. “It’s a shame. It is what it is. It is politics. They’re doing what they think is the right thing for their students.”

According to BUSD vice president Judy Appel, there was no written contract negotiated between both parties regarding the rental arrangement. Appel said there was a rental agreement at the beginning of BCM’s 20-year stay, but there are no current documents that detail this exchange of space.

The decision has been part of an ongoing discussion — two years in the making — and was brought up six months ago, according to Appel.

“It wasn’t just sprung on (BCM),” Appel said. “If we could wait two months or three months, we would.”

With an expected increase in the student population and anticipated building renovations, BHS plans to use the space where BCM was as a newly repurposed location for students, according to Appel.

Appel added that BHS has a plan to use the repurposed classrooms for career technical education to help pave a road for students toward their futures and careers.

“We have a whole plan with pathways for students to be engaged in their education around a certain career pathway and provide courses that meet the college readiness requirements,” Appel said. “The great thing is that it doesn’t make students choose between four-year college or a career that doesn’t require a four-year education; it offers college prep classes and a real pathway to jobs.”

While both parties concur that there has been little collaboration between BCM and BHS over the last two decades, Bauer said he believes that BCM had the potential to be a great resource for high school students.

Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín broadcasted his support to keep BCM in its current location in a Facebook post Tuesday.

“Berkeley Community Media is a vital part of our community and needs a suitable home so that it can continue training residents in film editing, production and providing affordable access to equipment,” Arreguín said in the post. “Save BCM!”

Sunny Tsai covers student life. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @eaguirreDC.