The Berkeley Unified School District, or BUSD, Board met Wednesday to recognize the Berkeley Fire Department for its role in facilitating a career pathway program.
Board members also discussed new funding measures and bid farewell to BUSD Directors Ty Alper and Julie Sinai, both of whom did not seek reelection in November.
The meeting began with the board’s recognition of the Berkeley Fire Department for its assistance in developing a successful career pathway at Berkeley High School, or BHS. The program — Berkeley Schools Excellence Program, or BSEP — guides and advises students who are interested in emergency service careers. According to Sinai, the program serves over one-third of BHS students and assists them in pursuing careers in firefighting and healthcare.
David Sprague, Berkeley’s interim fire chief and BHS alumnus, emphasized the importance of the program for students. He added that his goal is to educate BHS students and parents about fire services as a possible career option after high school.
“We thank, appreciate (and) commend the Berkeley Fire Department and the IAFF Local 1227 for their continued leadership, community service and dedication to Berkeley students,” Sinai said during the meeting.
BUSD Director of Local Resources & Partnerships Kathy Fleming also presented an outline of the process for developing a measure in support of renewing the BSEP. Funding was originally allocated in 1986 in response to lower state-funding levels, allowing BUSD to maintain relatively low class sizes and libraries and expand its counseling programs.
According to Fleming, the district must propose a new measure to ensure future funding; it will be on the ballot November 2024. Fleming said during the meeting the program was last reinstated in 2016.
“There are several ways in which BSEP contributes to achieving our mission, which is to enable and inspire our diverse student body to achieve academic excellence and make positive contributions to our world,” Fleming said during the meeting.
BUSD board President Ka’Dijah Brown, Vice President Laura Babitt and Director Ana Vasudeo also gave speeches for outgoing directors Alper and Sinai; Wednesday’s meeting was the last for the directors.
According to Brown, Alper has served in the BUSD for eight years and Sinai has served five. Brown added that their contributions to the board have included improvements to educator housing, restorative justice, mental health care and equity.