Out of District Students at Berkeley High School

Archived Q&A and Reviews

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How to make peace with people who lie about their residence

Jan 2010

My 8th grader is getting ready to go to BHS in the fall. I keep hearing of people in her circles that are going to BHS in the fall though they are not living here in Berkeley. ''oh, we are moving'' (really?) I am a tax payer here and really struggle with my feelings about this. I realize that we all are trying to do our best for our kids, but there is something not right about this. I pay taxes and live here and want my kid to have a fair shot at getting into good classes/programs/teachers. How does BUSD address this? How do I deal with my resentment to people who abuse the system? Berkeley Tax Payer

I understand your feelings and I don't really ahve an answer, just some other thoughts.

Yes, you pay taxes and should expect a good education for your kids, but so do the parents from the other school districts pay taxes for a good education for their kids. That education is not available in their district....so what to do. It's very difficult to get a legal transfer to Bkly or Albany. All the public schools are crowded. The problem is not the parents using false addresses, the problem is with the entire school/educational system, but I realize that's a whole other issue.

Is this parent/s active in the school? Are the kids good students, on sport teams, putting good energy into the school? Are these parents you want in your school because they are getting things done?

My son was a legal out of district transfer to a public high school. You wouldn't believe the dirty looks and comments we got from people who felt we were invading their property. My husband was PTA treasurer for 2 years and PTA president for 2 years. My son was active in various programs and an advocate for his programs. I don't know what we would have done had we not gotten the transfer. We own an apartment building and a business in the town where the school was. We may have used that as residence...it's in past and fortunately we didn't have to ''go there''.

Parents will do what they ahve to do for their kids...you know that. Put yourself in their shoes and honestly ask yourself what you would do. Maybe that will help you be more open minded and less irked. mom of hs transfer.

I was really upset by your post. I certainly can understand wanting your child to have the chance to get good classes and teachers, all parents feel that way I assume. My issue with your stance is this- all too often people are only concerned with themselves and our society Suffers greatly due to this self centered ideology. The parents who are sending their kids out of their ''zone'' or city are doing so because they too want a good education for their children! Most likely they pay taxes too but unfortunately there are a handfull of good schools and buckets full of deserving bright children! I think it's sad that you spend your time and energy like this. If you have extra time and energy why not do some work towards bettering schools or making sure that our taxes are going towards education rather than into prisons or the pockets of politicians. Taxpayer

I don't have an answer for you, but as someone living in an ''undesirable'' school district-- the one that people run from, lying about their Berkeley address, to get into your schools- -I also resent it. I resent that people will not even give our schools a try before judging them, or thinking their kids are too good/gifted/smart/ to attend our schools. I resent that people would rather lie than give their tax money to our schools (schools are paid based on student enrollment). I resent that people are so judgmental and opinionated about school they have never even visited.... I resent. Maybe if some of the very people who are lying their way into your schools stayed in their own district, our schools would benefit from their attendance.

I would NEVER lie in order to get into a Berkeley school. My children attend our problematic schools, and do fine. They do better than fine. So, count me in as someone who clearly is having trouble getting over her resentment at people who will not even consider staying in their own schools! Unity in the community!

We live in Richmond, son wants to go to BHS

Aug 2008

I am a mother of three. Back in the area after many years working as a Ballet dancer in Europe. My kids go to the Crowden School. My son is entering the 8th grade, his last year at Crowden. He wants to go to Berkeley high, my high school, but I'm not sure how to get him in. We live in Richmond and Richmond High is not an option. I am looking for any helpful suggestions on the best way to get him in. I work part time in Berkeley and full time in Richmond. Thanks

Berkeley Unified school district is now taking an even closer look at students residency, especially new students. You can try to anonymously check with the admissions office, but I understand that for high school it is even stricter.

The above board method would be to get an inter-district transfer. You can as the admissions office how that works, and ask your own Richmond district how it works from their end. I believe they would have to agree to release your son in order for him to go to Berkeley on an interdistrict transfer. Check the archives for recent chats on this. I think there were some.

Another alternativwe is to move to Berkeley, by buying a home or renting. Or move to Albany and have your kid go there. I hear that both schools have good music programs. Or perhaps if you can't get the transfer or move here, you could get your son invoved in the community music scene through the Jazz School downtown.

It is a bummer when our kids want something that is difficult for us to give them. Try talking with him about why living in Berkeley is not an option, and that may halp him understand.

Also, is Saint Mary's an option? It is in Berkeley, but you don't need to be a resident, or catholic, to go there. BUSD Mom

Dear family,
It's clear you care about your son, and you want only the best for him. I'm sorry you are struggling with where to place him. Having said that, I'd like to reference the discussion posted in the last ''Parent of Teens'' issue about kids coming to Berkeley High from outside the district. This is an increasingly sore subject for Berkeley residents, whether or not they are parents. Waves of students who attend from outside the district contribute to the disruption for downtown businesses at lunchtime. They drain local BSEP resources which Berkeley voters passed in good faith to support Berkeley families. They make classes more crowded for other students and they challenge the precious time and energy of our Berkeley teachers. So if you're looking for a way to sneak around the system, don't be surprised if you encounter bad feelings within the local parent community. Thanks for listening. Frustrated

Out of district, going to Berkeley schools?

*Consider making a real donation to that Berkeley school*

My (small flat-land house!) property tax includes about $1600 a year specifically for Berkeley schools. (tax % rate is almost twice that of Oakland) If you sent your teen to a private high school in Oakland you'd be paying $13-27,000 tuition a year.

So consider donating at least $1000 a year when your Oakland/Albany/Richmond/etc resident student goes to BHS, no matter how you got in.

You can even designate what programs you want it spent on if you care. Much cheaper than moving... And no one looks or cares about the address on the check--won't get you ''in trouble'' in any way. The registrars, district offices, etc that you might worry about never see the actual checks you'd send to the Berkeley High Development Group (collects the donations).

The reason people send their kids to BHS is because Berkeley residents pay more money in taxes to make it better! formerly out of district & donated!

I think frustrated should try to put themselves in someone elses shoes. Have they thought about what it might be like not to be rich enough or lucky enough to already live in Berkeley? Would frustrated be willing to send his/her child to a failing High School? The children who's parents care enough to find a way to get their children in are most likely not going to be the type who disrupt businesses in down town Berkeley, they are likely to be children who study hard and appreciate their chance to be in a decent school. As one responder to the parents of a teen who needed a ride to Humboldt County from BHS said, the anger should be aimed at the lack of resources allocated to our schools, not at the families who care about their children. anonymous

If your child has high enough grades the administration looks the other way at Berkeley High and never checks on where those students come from. Unlike Lamorinda and Walnut Creek schools who make frequent home checks unannounced to actually teach the kids whose parents are paying to go to the school. Double Standard for the Smart Students

This is obviously a hot button topic since the original post was so long ago. In the previous newsletter, someone suggested sensitivity towards disadvantaged families who were not fortunate enough to live in Berkeley but still wanted to go to BHS. This is often not the case, and as another poster stated, higher tax rates allow a better education at BHS. I know several families who are quite well-off (including 2-physician-parent families) who lie about their addresses to send their kids to Berkeley High. What message do these and other parents send their kids? It's ok to lie to save money? It's ok to lie to get a better education? lying is not ok

Out-of-town family with daughter at BHS

Aug 2008

Greetings - We're wondering if anyone knows anyone who commutes home on the weekends to Southern Humboldt County? Our daughter will be attending Berkeley High and living with close family friends in north Berkeley - we'd love to have her home as much as possible, and are trying to find ways to safely and creatively allow her to travel the 220 miles north without our having to make the roundtrip twice each weekend to pick her up and bring her back in time for school. She's an entering freshman, very literate and companionable. Needless to say, this would only work were she in the hands of a competent, responsible driver. Perhaps there's a student at Humboldt State making this drive? We'd be happy to share expenses. Many thanks, D.

I'm sorry that I have no ideas for you, but I'm puzzled: why is it that your daughter can attend a public high school in Berkeley when her family lives hundreds of miles away? As a Berkeley taxpayer, I'm concerned about why BHS enrolls students who have no link to Berkeley. I know you only want the best for your child, but please be aware that there is a lot of resentment within the community about non- residents competing for limited educational resources in a facility like BHS that seems to be filled to bursting. Mystified

To ''Mystified,'' I appreciate your resentment and share your concern about students from other districts taking advantage of our high school illegally. I have one child who graduated from BHS and another entering. In this case, we are Berkeley residents and legal guardians of this child. -Parent, Guardian of child from Humboldt County, and Berkeley resident

Thank you, Mystified, for posting your message about the anger many BHS parents feel about non-district students attending BHS. It's a mystery as to why BHS continues to not only allow, but seemingly promote, this activity. I've long been mystified as to why the Parent Resource Center sells BART tickets for BHS students. This service is not primarily for kids who might take the North Berkeley or Ashby BART. It's for kids who live in Richmond, El Cerrito, Kensington, Lamorinda, Oakland and beyond. BHS should stop selling BART tickets on behalf of out of district students, and they should certainly crack down on out of district students attending BHS. Out of district parents, please note: there aren't enough scalpels for dissection in biology classes at 38 kids per class, much less other critical materials. Don't teach your children that dishonesty is OK by lying about living in the district. More Annoyed Than Mystified

I agree with the most recent post about a non resident sending their child to BHS. My child did not go to her public HS (Berkeley) because there were way too many students and felt she would learn better in a smaller environment. It is frustrating that a city like Berkeley only has one HS to accommodate all its students so to think a non-resident is adding to the large amount of students angers me. I hope BHS has stringent rules and procedures to prove incoming students are indeed residents. angry Berkeley resident

While I sympathize with the ''anger'' about BHS in terms of unreasonable class sizes and related problems, I wish people could direct these feeling toward BHS, the school board, and the city, rather than toward well intended out of district parents just trying to get a good education for their children. I'm all for trying to change the system, not take it out on other parents. we are all in this together

To the Berkeley guardian of child from Humboldt, it does seem as though you could be of help in trying to assure that the child is able to participate in BHS activities and spend time with her friends from high school. Perhaps the parents can come to Berkeley to visit her and not expect a teenage girl to do so much traveling back and forth with strangers. Anonymous

Work at UC Berkeley - can our child get into BHS?

Oct 2006

Both my husband and I are on the faculty at UC Berkeley -- have been for years. Our child will be entering high school next year. We would like her to go to Berkeley High School -- but we do not live in Berkeley, and we would prefer not to go through the rigamarole of lying about our residence. (I guess we COULD rent a room in Berkeley and it would still be cheaper than private school.)

I called the school district, and they said that we could apply to get our child in -- but that it was decided on a case-by-case basis and there were no guaranties. I asked how likely it would be -- given that we both worked for UC Berkeley -- and the woman who answered the phone said it was a ''good possibility.'' But she is not the one who makes the decisions.

Here's my question. Has anybody had experience with this? How likely IS it that we can get our child into BHS on this basis?

Thank you
anon for now

I have worked at UCB for 30 years & was unable to get my daughter into BHS as a transfer. I filled out all the forms, was denied, appealed the denial and my appeal was turned down. I talked to the superintendent who told me that my daugter's class (current 11th grade) was so large that no one was allowed to transfer in except under the most extreme circumstances. I think alot depends on the size of the class. For her class they aren't even keeping a waiting list.
Gave Up

We had a similar situation as yours in fall 2006 (child is now a 9th grader). BHS said if push came to shove, we would have a slight priority due to working in Berkeley. However, this is more true if your kids are younger than middle school. Something called the ''Allen Act'' gives you priority if you have younger kids and want to send them to school in the city you work in, but doesn't really help middle school onwards (when kids are assumed to be more self sufficient and independent). Although our home district released us, no problem (that is step 1 of the process) BHS couldn't admit us because they were so over enrolled. So, I suggest that you have a back up plan incase it doesn't work. You probably won't find out until well in the summer if you have been accepted or not. I didn't think using someone else's address was a good idea, so we didn't pursue BHS any further after we received our denial notice. It may be a year to year thing depending on enrollement, so it doesn't hurt to try! Hope that helps, and good luck!
been there, done that

My understanding is that there is a state law, basically called a convenience law, that allows families working in Berkeley, or any other city, to enroll their children in schools in the district they work in, if there is room in the school. I can't imagine BHS wouldn't have room!
BHS parent

Two thoughts on the out of city BHS enrollment.

First, some school districts have a provision to allow enrollment of family members of business operators within the city. [The logic behind this is the city benefits from the parent's business operations.] I am not sure about Berkeley. Anyway, you might work with this approach, which may need a couple of connections at the district office.

Second, this may be a tough sell, as I've seen a family from Lafayette have to rent an apartment in Berkeley to get the residency requirement nailed down for their son, who was a super-star, bringing a ton to the school's music program. Even all his talent did not influence the decision process. The message here is that ''talent'' is not a route that will likely work.

Good luck

Oakland resident attending Berkeley High

Oct 2005

Has anyone successfully achieved an interdistrict transfer to Berkeley High? We are Oakland residents, but my son is very interested in transferring to Berkeley High. Before we spend alot of time looking at Berkeley High, I'd like to know whether it is possible to get an interdistrict transfer. The only information I received from Berkeley is that he needs to get released from the Oakland School District and then apply to be accepted to the Berkeley School District. Has anyone gone through this process, or attempted it? How difficult is it to get released from Oakland and then accepted to Berkeley? Are there any ''tricks'' to the process? Lori

I tried to get my daughter released from Oakland to attend either Campolindo or Acalanes High Schools, on the basis that they offer more AP courses and German. The request was denied on the basis that Oakland offers AP courses. You could try to fight it, but my take is that they are so obstructionist it would be extremely difficult.

I work in Berkeley - can my 8th grader go to BHS?

Nov 2004

We don't live in Berkeley but my business is in Berkeley. We're thinking about BHS as a possibility for our 8th grader. Any first hand info on who to contact regarding transfers? How easy is it? What criteria are priorities? Thanks for any info.
can't put it off any more

My son transferred out of Albany to Berkeley in freshman year. What you must do is obtain an Interdistrict Transfer form from your child's current school, complete it, then file it with Berkeley High's administration. I don't recall the deadlines but, if you're shooting for next fall, you're probably fine. You will have to petition for the transfer every year (BHS may remind you to do so, it may not). My son has really enjoyed the BHS community, and the effort was well worth it for him.
BHS or Bust

To the parent who is considering an inter-district transfer to Berkeley High for a current 8th grader: We tried this last year for our son, based on his dad's employment in Berkeley (the ''Allen Act''). We got released from Oakland, but were not accepted by Berkeley, despite our early application, his high grades and our persistent follow-up. The public position was that absolutely no inter-district transfers were going to be allowed, due to over-crowdedness. We even know a senior whose inter-district transfer was revoked after 3 years at BHS. Unless Berkeley's posture has changed, it seems the only way to get into BHS it is to lie about your address, which we were not comfortable doing, or maybe some incredible personal connection. On the bright side, our son is happy at Oakland Tech., as is that senior, and we're happy with Tech too.

There is no doubt that Berkeley High is over-crowded. However, a former OUSD superintendant, who should know I suppose, told me personally that Berkeley's policy of not accepting transfers from the two large neighboring districts is designed to exclude a particular race. Other scuttlebut--this in regard to transferees from Richmond--is that students seek to transfer to Berkeley because the kids there have more money to invest in drugs (and, I suppose, the girls have more earning potential). BHS parent

The issue of interdistrict transfers to Berkeley High School is admittedly very complicated and elicits strong opinions on all sides of the question. But, regardless of ones opinions on the issue, I think we need to be really careful before repeating ''scuttlebut'' (i.e. unsubstantiated rumors) that are slanderous to large numbers of students and their families. I refer to the statement made by a ''BHS parent'' in this newsletter that Richmond students seek to transfer to BHS ''because the kids there have more money to invest in drugs'' and ''I suppose the girls have more earning potential''.

Having had 2 children graduate from BHS (the last one in June '04) I can state from my personal experience that Richmond students make the decision to transfer to BHS for the SAME REASONS that students from Albany, Kensington, El Cerrito and Oakland do. For most students, and their families, it is the belief that they will get a better education at BHS (for a myriad of reasons). Lori

The previous message attributing to an unnamed Oakland schools official the charge that Berkeley High's resistance to transfers is racially motivated seems entirely out of bounds. First, any claim about racism (including the innuendo about drugs and prostitution) should be based on something more than such a speculative and unattributed claim. Why would an unnamed Oakland schools official be a reliable source about an accusation about a Berkeley school? Basing a charge of racism on speculation and rumor does not do credit to the fight against racism that is real and can be proven. Second, who ever wrote the letter (allegedly a BHS parent) obviously has not been to Berkeley High where teachers and students are struggling with overcrowded and overenrolled classes (my son has over 40 in his english class and his biology class only obtained enough text books to distribute to students this November). Please, lets stick to the facts--it is hard enough to deal with the real problems of race in all our schools. BHS parent

this in regard to transferees from Richmond--is that students seek to transfer to Berkeley because the kids there have more money to invest in drugs (and, I suppose, the girls have more earning potential). I object to this objectification of young women in a supposedly supportive forum and that it's gratuitous gossip and attributed to men of power in the community and demeans black people. Please, let's not go there in the future. What was the purpose of this posting? Jill

I'm surprised such offensive material is posted in this newsletter. Richmond students seek transfers to BHS because the WCCUSD does not provide acceptable high schools to most of its residents. To imply that Richmond transfers are all drug dealers and pimps perpetuates racial profiling and stereotyping at its worse. anonymous

The letter about inter-district transfers to BHS was out of line, and designed to incite. That the writer refers to his/her own information as scuttlebutt and an off the record conversation makes printing it a bit questionable. This isn't a criticism of you guys, I think you're great -- its an attempt to register my support for a higher community standard. Rumors that demean students of color AND administrators of no color simultaneously -- and do so anonymously -- are beyond contempt. Heather

Note from moderator: Thanks to all of you who responded to the posting about interdistrict transfers. I apologize for not returning it to the poster so that it would adhere to our newsletter rules. These comments are good reminders to all of us! --Sally Rules for the Newsletter

Out-of-district Transfers and Large Class Size


I'd like the school board to take a position opposing widespread acceptance of out of district transfers. Many of our schools appear overcrowded--particularly the High School. Data is suspiciously hard to come by, but I have the impression that much overcrowding is due to a district policy to accept out of district transfers. One (probably wild overestimate) floating around is that 30% of the high school students are from out of the district.

At the same time, Berkeley school administrators appear to grudgingly accept, wink at, or even favor out of District transfers because of associated financial benefits. The State pays some money to schools on the basis of school population. So overcrowded schools get more State funds than undercrowded schools.

Possibly, school administrators benefit in the short run from these funds, however it seems clear that in the long run our students and teachers generally suffer from overcrowding.

It seems crazy not to make people running for the school board take a stand on this issue. They (and not parents) are in a posistion to change school policy toward district transfers. Make school board candidates take a stand on this issue!


I think it is important to first get the statistics on out of district transfers in terms of numbers, performance etc. Perhaps many the rumored out of district students aren't official and may actually drain BHS of monies in terms of average daily attendance, etc. My son is an "official" out of district transfer as opposed to the many students who apparently do not go thorough district channels(i.e. release from his home district and acceptance into Berkeley USD.) There are many hoops to go through to do it officially. My son was welcomed to enter BHS, but we were initially warned that acceptance wasn't a sure thing and he had initially registered as a freshman at his home school. Furthermore, he must reapply each year for the transfer. (BUSD can refuse or revoke these transfers because of truancy, behavior problems or poor academic performance. Thus, the transfer students are under scrutiny and perhaps held to a higher standard than non-transfer students. ) I know other students who have also gone through official channels. They are bright, committed students who from the feedback I get, are well-received by the teachers. Thus, I think it is important to get the facts and numbers. These official students may be far from a drain to BHS, but really an enhancement in terms of the overall program of BHS. Anonymous

I would like to respond to the item about admitting students from outside the district. I agree, I know that the district gets funds for each students enrolled, so they encourgage out of district transfers. Which seems strange to me, when their are so many problem for people getting their children into the schools of their choice. Unfortunately, many neighboring districts have terrible schools. I speak from the vantage point of a past teacher in the district and a mother of children in the public schools. I feel that the overcrowding and discipline problems in the classrooms may be lessened by not taking in some of these kids. But schools should have that priority already. I have no idea if administraters can freely "send" out of district kids back to their "home" districts. I know that teachers say things like, XXX is out of district and a problem and we should send him /her back. This should be studied, but it is all confidential info so it would have to happen "in house." So then, it would be a situation where to cut out of district transfers, it would cut our financial resources , creating a double edged sword. I would hope administrators could and do send back problem students. It is amazing how many students in schools are without a working phone contact number and these are the children with problems. Especially at the Jr. High and High School levels, teachers and administrators are so over-stressed and overworked, just dealing with their daily work load, that these issues are often overlooked in the daily business of educating every one, unless the student does something very blatant. An administrators and teachers have a tough time dealing with the tough parents these tough kids come from.


I still don't get the economics of out of district transfers. I have heard estimates that as many as one third of the students at Berkeley High are either legal transfers or illegal transfers, and my random experience meeting my kid's friends bears this out. In the case of legal transfers, I have heard that the district gets $5,000 per student. Is this in ADDITION to the money the state normally reimburses school districts per student or is this just a transfer of funds from one district to another? The difference is important because most costs associated with education are variable costs. If Berkeley High went from 3500 students to 2500 students revenue would go down, but expenses should go equally down (assuming that most costs are direct costs for education -- and if they aren't then we have another set of problems).

If the $5,000 is ADDITIONAL revenue then the district should be doing everything in its power to identify the illegal transfers and get them to become legal. If it is just a transfer of money from one district to another then the district should be doing everything in its power to identify the illegal transfers and get them out.

Now we, the good citizens of Berkeley, have also chosen to tax ourselves because we support the public education system and what it means to our future. We tax ourselves to increase and improve the infrastructure (fixed costs) and reduce class size (variable costs). Transfers, both legal and illegal, take advantage of our situation by taking up space in our classrooms and being taught by our subsidized teachers. If the average person in Berkeley pays an additional $500 per year in taxes for schools then transfers should have to pay to reimburse the taxpayers of Berkeley. That just seems fair. People would pay a lot more to go to a private school.


I would like to hear from BUSD about the transfer situation. I would agree with Paul Litsky that out of district students should reimburse us for all the extra tax we impose on ourselves. We WANT to pay it, but we expect that to be shared by all students/parents using our school system. Joyce

I visited with Jack McLaughlin yesterday to discuss interdistrict transfers and crowding at Berkeley High. His position, and, I gather, the official position of the school district, is the following:

1. Berkeley High is not overcrowded. (Student population is lower than in previous years).

2. Interdistrict transfers have not increased in recent years. Legal transfers are well under 10%. Illegal transfers are probably no higher now than in previous years. The school is making continued efforts to control such transfers.

3. Legal transfers add $5,000 each, which more than covers the cost of transfers.

All three conclusions (if correct) are reassuring and deserve to be more widely advertised. I'd like additional confirmation, insight from other parents.


I'm copying the teens list so they can continue the dialog on this topic in the newsletter.

Dear Larry,

I appreciate the fact that you took the trouble to discuss these issues with Jack McLaughlin and shared this information. Even though this is reassuring, I'm still not certain that there isn't a problem at BHS due to out-of-district transfers.

1. Even if the student population IS lower, that doesn't mean the school isn't overcrowded. I'd like to know if it IS overcrowded; in other words, how many students are there in the classes? Is there a BUSD policy on class size for the high school as there is for the elementary and middle schools? Do the classes exceed that? Are there enough chairs and books? Are the classes so large that students don't get enough attention from the teacher or opportunities for discussion of the material?

It would be good to get candid answers from BHS teachers, students and the principal and parents who know what the situation is at BHS.

2. Saying there are probably no more illegal students than in previous years doesn't diminish the harm this situation does to the school and our community. How do we know there aren't more than in previous years if we don't know how many there are or who they are?

Illegal out-of-district students harm BHS in several ways:
a. They take space that could go to legal transfers, who bring in $5,000 each! That's a lot of money for the school to be losing each year.
b. They make the huge BHS school population even larger. I'm an 8th grade parent who is concerned about the huge size of the school.
c. Tolerating this situation gives the message to our kids, both legal and illegal, that the adults in charge can't control the learning environment. It says to them "illegal and cheating is okay if you can get away with it"-- a difficult thing for kids or anyone to live with.
d. The BUSD can control the number of legal transfers, adjusting that number if necessary. But illegal transfers are a group that can't be controlled or even identified. How can the BUSD administer the school properly in light of this situation ?

I'd like to know what is being done about illegal transfers, and what other districts have effectively done that we could try.


Is it correct that the District "loses" any money when out of district children attend BHS without obtaining a formal transfer? I am assuming this is not accurate; that these students have an address, register and attend the school and are included in the school's census which is used to calculate the state money paid to the district. I don't see how these students bring in any less money than students who live in the district or students who have legal transfers. That doesn't mean that the other issues of overcrowding, etc shouldn't be addressed. Liz

In response to Larry Dale's information from Jack McLaughlin:

1. Berkeley High is not overcrowded. (Student population is lower than in previous years).

I question the logic of this statement. I accept that the population this year is lower than previous years, but it does not follow that BHS is not overcrowded. I think 'overcrowded' needs to be defined. I understand that BHS is short of resources (from books to counselors). If we cannot supply our students with books, the school is overcrowded. Would we be able to address the lunch problems if we had 20% fewer students? What if we had 30% fewer students? Could we keep track of those failing? Could we follow up on truancies better if there were 300 fewer students? 500 fewer students?

2. Interdistrict transfers have not increased in recent years. Legal transfers are well under 10%. Illegal transfers are probably no higher now than in previous years. The school is making continued efforts to control such transfers.

How do we know that inter-district transfers have not increased? We do not know that illegal transfers are higher. "Probably no higher" is not enough information to come to the conclusion that the transfers have not increased. For argument sake, let's assume that they have not increased, does this mean that they are not too high? We cannot reach that conclusion without definite data. Guessing is not enough!

3. Legal transfers add $5,000 each, which more than covers the cost of transfers.

What about illegal transfers? Do we know how many there are? What costs are covered by the transfers? Do they cover the cost of buildings? Do they cover the cost of counselors? Do they cover the extra cost of attracting quality teachers?


I find the whole discussion on overcrowding at BHS is missing the point. Why should parents be forced to send their child to a school that doesn't suit them just because that's where they live? If parents are sending their children long distances to another school they probably have good reasons. Aren't we all on the same side here? If the funding for schools came from the state instead of locally, the inter-district transfer issue wouldn't have any financial basis at all. The real query is why there is only one high school in Berkeley when it is too large to be manageable? fiona

I appreciated reading Cynthia's comments on overcrowding and out of district transfers @ BHS. You made some good points. This is also something about which I am concerned and have begun working on finding out the class size at the school. It would be great if you would email your comments to Chris Lim, the associate superintendent, and Joaquin Rivera, president of the school board. I have been communicating with both of them about the class size issue, however, unfortunately, they seem to need constant reminders that there is parental concern about these issues and might need a reminder. Chris Lim, Joaquin Rivera

The money the BUSD receives per student (the $5,000) does not depend on whether the student who lives outside Berkeley has an official inter-district permit. It does depend, however, on the student's attendance (as does the money for students who live in Berkeley). The district receives full funding for any student who attends BHS for the full 180 days of the school year. It receives less money for any student who misses one or more days. There is a point at which providing teachers for the student costs more than the district receives for the student.

Many teachers believe, whether rightly or wrongly, that illegal out-of-district students are the most likely to be absent too much because we cannot call their parents.

Another relevant factor is that some of the costs of running BHS are fixed, no matter how many students there are (within reason). The principal, vice-principals, secretaries, custodians, etc. are there whether BHS has 2800 students or 3500. On the other hand, each approximately 30 students require that one more teacher be hired but they bring in $150,000 in income. Since it does not cost $150,000 to pay the teacher, the excess income can be used for other things (like paying McLaughlin's salary or buying books for the library.

For most teachers (or at least I think it's for most), the major issue about illegal out-of-district students is that it is harder to deal with problems because we can rarely contact their families. There are good reasons why they cannot be easily identified < unless they call attention to themselves through their actions, we have no reason to suspect improper status and it takes precious time to prove out-of-district residence and time co0sts money. Thus, only the most egregious cases tend to be investigated. Hope this helps.

Judy (BHS teacher)

Those who complain about out-of-district transfers may not realize what sort of student has parents who make the effort to improve, even marginally, their child's education. For example: Our daughter attended elementary school in Berkeley based on one parent's employment at U.C.B. After attending a private middle school (on full scholarship), she will return to Berkeley for high school. She tests in the 98th-99th percentiles in SAT9 subjects. We appreciate the opportunity that interdistrict transfer presents to her. On the other hand, she (and we) do more to improve the Berkeley schools, academically and behaviorally, than they do for us.

For four years the Parents Art Support Network at Berkeley High was managed by an out-of-district parent. The current editor of the PTSA newsletter, is an out-of-district parent as is the manager of the BHS e-tree. Cutting down on out-of-district students would eliminate those families who have legally transferred to the school and care enough to support the institution. Remaining would be students who have arrived through deceptive means. However, it is important we note that even illegal transfers are at Berkeley High School because they WANT to be and many of them care about the school contributing greatly to our student body.

Each student, whether legal or illegal, brings state money to the BUSD coffers. BSEP, however, which supplements the district budget, comes from a local parcel tax. The tax raises a finite amount annually. The more students we have the more diluted BSEP is. Even here though, some out-of-district parents have elected to contribute directly to the BSEP funds the amount they would have been taxed had they resided in Berkeley.

A Final Note. Much to-do has been made over the recently published "Class Dismissed." It the story of three students from the BHS class of 2000 supplemented with research the author has found. Some of the author's facts are very interesting some are generalizations based on hearsay and prejudice. Be that as it may, not one of the three subjects on which the author concentrated lived in Berkeley. One came from Oakland, one from Alameda and the third from Richmond. We should look at the number of students who want to attend our school and be honored--BHS is obviously doing many things right.