Berkeley High School offers over 100 registered, student-run clubs. From the StageCraft club, which seeks to raise funds to support on-campus productions, to the Supporting Girls Education club, which strives to monetarily support organizations furthering female education, many of these clubs require funding. However, BHS clubs must be entirely self-funded and cannot easily seek funds through BUSD. This can be profoundly detrimental to clubs that have ambitious projects, require expensive equipment, or generally lack the necessary funds to fulfill their intentions. Student clubs should have access to district funding, as that money will allow them to partake in activities and projects that wouldn’t be possible without supportive funding.
One club that is actively damaged by this issue is the Berkeley Surf Club. The club, run by BHS juniors Sophie Jacobs and Morgan Ostrer, requires access to funding so that they can provide wetsuits, surfboards, and transportation for their club members who might otherwise not have access. “We want a safe space and just an opportunity for people to make new friends that have the same interests and just have fun doing what they love outside,” said Jacobs. “There’s only so much you can do without having a source of profit.”
Other clubs are facing similar issues. Chloe Caldwell, BHS junior and president of the Protecting Animal Wellness (PAW) club, shared how her club is harmed by a lack of accessible funds. She said that while her club actively fundraises to donate to various animal shelters, they seek additional funds that could go towards bringing and transporting service animals to the BHS campus. As Caldwell said, “It would be great to have funding from our school because we are providing a service for our school.”
Caldwell additionally pointed out that her club, as well as many others, utilizes methods including bake sales and assorted fundraising tactics to raise money. While that’s expected and appropriate in some scenarios, funds provided by the district would help clubs achieve even larger goals.
The idea of clubs being funded by the district is not so far-fetched; the Berkeley Schools Excellence Program (BSEP) is an extremely beneficial special tax that provides means for Berkeley’s public schools. The usage of BSEP funds is overseen by the BSEP Planning and Oversight Committee, consisting of parent representatives, so that the funds can be used where they were predetermined to be the fittest. Among these predetermined assignments is “Site Programs,” to which 10.25 percent of BSEP funds were designated in the 2022-23 school year. “School Site Programs,” as defined by Berkeley Public Schools, “gives each school discretionary funds for site-based programs such as arts and sciences instruction, academic tutoring and counseling, athletics and student activities, and before and after-school programs.”
A multitude of BHS clubs fall under that description; they shouldn’t be excluded from funding provided by BSEP and the district. These funds must be made more readily accessible to student clubs. These clubs are overflowing with passion, creativity, and expression. They provide not only club participants, but also the entire BHS community, with diverse opportunities. Giving so much to the school community, it’s time the district started giving back.