The following speech was given at the August 23, 2017 Board of Education meeting by BFT President Cathy Campbell.
Good Evening School Board Members and Superintendent Evans,
My name is Cathy Campbell and I am the President of the Berkeley Federation of Teachers. BFT represents all non-management certificated staff in BUSD, including teachers (including preschool, K-12 and Adult School), counselors, school psychologists, librarians, speech therapists, as well as certificated staff at the REALM charter schools.
We are very excited for the excellent year ahead and want to thank District and site staff for all they are doing to prepare schools for the return of teachers this week, and students next week. We want to offer a special thanks to the Facilities department for their effort to have all classrooms clean and ready for teachers to access this week.
We also want to thank the community of Berkeley whose immense generosity, in the form of passage of Measure E1, our new BSEP measure, means that we can continue to provide our students with a broad education that includes music, the arts, libraries, and programs chosen by each site, and with small class sizes and critical student supports. The impact of BSEP on our students is HUGE and we are so fortunate to live and work in a city that prioritizes public education.
We want to thank the Board and District staff for all of the collaborative work that was done with BFT to have a new contract in place for this fall. It is a wonderful thing for all, and especially our students, to have this resolved. We are very excited about the opportunities that the new prep and collaboration time will provide for our youngest students and their teachers starting next year.
Lastly this evening, I want to offer BFT’s heartfelt gratitude to Deputy Superintendent Javetta Cleveland as she moves to her next professional adventure. It is very hard to put into words the positive impact Javetta has had on our district since she arrived in 2007. Perhaps the best example, which I believe demonstrates many of the values that inform her work, is how Javetta, along with our Superintendent at the time, navigated BUSD through the Great Recession. Creating a Budget Advisory Committee to offer input and recommendations to the Board shows Javetta’s commitment to collaboration with parents, community and employees, and, most importantly, transparency. Transparency builds trust, reduces conflict and increases unity during challenging times, such as the one we are entering now. These practices allow the focus to remain on our core mission, educating our students, and allows everyone to “row together” with that goal foremost in our minds.
In the period of increasing resources following the Great Recession Javetta was critical to many successful negotiations with both BFT and other unions. Her commitment to accurate, detailed information, shared widely, and her ability to really listen and to look for shared interests were key in these resolutions.
Javetta and her team have brought stability to our budget and her fiscal stewardship has been instrumental, in my view, to the confidence with which our families and our VOTERS view BUSD.
As we enter a new period of fiscal challenges we will do well to follow the practices Javetta has established and to ask ourselves “What would Javetta do?”
Thank you, Javetta, for ten years of incredible service to our District.