May 24 2017

Three reports on May 10, 2017 School Board meeting –

by Shannon Yan, Piedmont High School Senior –

On May 10th at 7:00 p.m., the Piedmont Unified School District Board of Education met for its bimonthly meeting to hear from community members and to review topics such as the implementation of Integrated Math 3 and the designs of the new STEAM facilities at the high school. During the announcements, Board Member Cory Smegal read a few lines from her emails with Board Member Dr. Pearson calling the recent anti-semitic incidents “painful” and highlighting the “importance for kids to be upstanders.” Before getting to scheduled topics, the School Board opened the podium to any community members that wished to speak.

Dr. Alicia Gruber Kalamas, whose family has lived in Piedmont for over 40 years, spoke about the 2015 Bird Calling Contest. She detailed how one of the judges, was a close family friend to the 1st and 2nd place winners of the Bird Calling Contest. She told the School Board that they “have two options: a second meeting with those who want more information, or under duress under court order.” Kalamas also brought up Piedmont High’s athletic director, Vic Acuna. After Kalamas spoke, Board Member Swenson  said that she was “tired of the systematic character assassination of Vic Acuna” to which the audience rose to their feet and clapped.

On the topic of anti-semitism, many community members spoke. Police Chief Bowers spoke about how the anti-semitic acts are considered “hate incidents” and not “hate crimes” and the Police Department is currently conducting an investigation. Bowers said he felt for the victims “because growing up, that was [him].” He hopes any students affected will come to the Police Department so that the department can determine if this is a “hate crime.”

Mr. Barnes, a longtime Piedmont resident, spoke from the Jewish community expressing disappointment with the “lack of detail from the Piedmont School administration” and how “middle schoolers are now believing that the act didn’t even happen.”

I agree with Mr. Barnes’s  point about the lack of specificity of what actually happened. The speakers in the assembly largely focused on hate speech and what was said to the victims. Furthermore, by having performing students recite pre-written scripts, it felt staged.

Another topic that was pursued by those present was the firing of Coach Lavdiotis, a longtime basketball coach at Piedmont High. Mr. DeLuca spoke about how he was sad to see Lavdiotis let go and how he believed that he did not get a “fair shake.” Mr. Tate talked about how Coach Lavdiotis contributed many traditions to the Piedmont athletic community such as the Palm Drive tournament and the MLK tournament. On the other hand, Mrs. Elvekrog spoke about how “change can be a force for good” and that “she is not aware of a single basketball player who is in protest of searching for a new coach.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

by Joseph Chu, Piedmont High School Senior –

The Piedmont Board of Education convened on the evening of May 10, 2017. The meeting commenced at 7:00 p.m. The general purpose of board meetings is to make decisions regarding the School District and include public input as a part of their decisions such as: the budget, education policies, setting District goals, and forming a local education vision. Participating members of the Board for this meeting were Andrea Swenson, Cory Smegal, Amal Smith, and Doug Ireland along with Superintendent Randall Booker and Finance Manager Song-Chin Bendib.

This meeting’s agenda included presenting the 2017 Arthur Hecht Volunteer of the Year Award to Hillary Cooper, hearing about the recent reports of anti-semitic, racist and other forms of hateful speech and conduct at Piedmont High School, and the assembly that was held at the high school to initiate student discussion and awareness about these issues. Other items included on the agenda included conducting a second hearing for approving the proposed levy of current School Support Tax Measure A, conducting a second hearing for approving 2017-18 Contract Openers between the District and Classified School Employees Association, a presentation for new math courses that are being proposed to meet the Secondary Math Pathways’ requirements: Integrated Math 3 and Honors Math Analysis, and finally reviewing and discussing the recommended concept designs for Piedmont High School’s new STEAM facilities, auditorium changes, and its projected costs and other concerns regarding its construction.

Announcements of the graduation dates for Millennium High School, Piedmont High School, and 8th Grade Graduation. The Millennium High School Graduation will take place on May 31st at 1:00 p.m. in the Veteran’s Hall. The Piedmont High School Graduation will be held on June 1st at 5:00 p.m. in Witter Field. The 8th Grade Celebration Ceremony will be held on May 31st at 5:30 p.m. at Witter Field.

The most heated items of discussion during this meeting surrounded topics that were not on the agenda of the meeting.  These topics were the recent events of anti-semitic, racist and other forms of hateful speech and actions, the newly appointed Athletic Director, Vic Acuna, and the firing of the former coach of the PHS Men’s Basketball Team, coach Lavdiotis.

Dr. Kalamas, a Piedmont resident, expressed concern for incidents of racism and anti-semitism at Piedmont High School and discontent at what she said was a “delayed and anemic response” on the part of the school board regarding these issues. Kalamas also addressed her own concerns about nepotism and cronyism in the school administration. Board Member Swenson responded with a statement that she was “horrified by the systematic assassination of [the current] Athletic Director, Vic Acuna”.

Among the other members of the Piedmont community who offered their own concerns and questions regarding the incidents of hateful speech and actions at Piedmont High School, Piedmont Police Chief Jeremy Bowers said that the Piedmont Police Department is committed to working closely with the community to address this problem and to continue investigating these incidents.

Several coaches and athletic professionals voiced their support for reinstating coach Lavdiotis and some expressed their disapproval of Athletic Director Vic Acuna.

Piedmont High School students Victoria Hou and Shannon Yan gave their opinions on non-agenda topics, as well.

Hou addressed the high school assembly that was held to initiate discussion and awareness for high school students regarding the incidents of hate speech and actions. Hou said that she hoped that the School Board would provide more clear and specific information regarding those incidents because she felt there was a general sense of confusion in the student body regarding this topic.

As a senior at Piedmont High School this year, I agree with Victoria Hou in terms of the feeling that the information that was given to students about those serious incidents was not clear and I have heard various stories about what actually happened. I would appreciate it if the school gave out an official statement about what exactly happened so that students and other members of the community can be on the same page about their understanding of these issues.

Yan proposed that the School Board allow high school students to be able to take more classes in  economics and government, since there is currently only one class offered for each of these subjects, both being only a semester long and strictly offered to seniors. Yan said that there are other students who hope to be able to pursue these subjects more fully through additional classes.

After the session for addressing non-agenda topics had closed, the Board moved to its agenda topics.

Hilary Cooper gave her acceptance speech for the 2017 Arthur Hecht Volunteer of the Year Award. Piedmont High School AP Art student Tong Zhou presented a ceramic tree that she made to Mrs. Cooper for her service.

Next, the Board approved the tax level increase of 2% for the School Support Tax Measure A, and 2017-18 Contract Openers between the District and Classified School Employees Association.

Following these actions, a presentation was given to the Board about new math classes that would fulfill the Secondary Math Pathways’ requirements: Integrated Math 3 and Honors Math Analysis. Integrated Math 3 would replace the Algebra II class of the traditional math pathway. Honors Math Analysis would cover the topics of Math Analysis as well as AP Calculus, AB’s first semester’s worth of coursework. This class would be part of the accelerated math pathway. A second reading for these new classes will be held on May 24, 2017.

Following this presentation, the board held a discussion about the cost and other logistic details for Option 2B of the series of concept designs for new Piedmont High School STEAM facilities. Cost estimates were based on compiled data from other local related school construction projects that have been happening within the past three years. The Board also discussed potential uses for any surplus from the budget they have for the STEAM facilities construction and the need to demolish and rebuild the current Alan Harvey Theatre, due to it’s multiple safety hazards, structural degradation and need for more seating and restrooms. The Board’s general consensus was that while estimates of cost must be carefully and accurately calculated to avoid overstepping the budget, construction must begin as soon as possible to reduce costs of the project, which are expected to increase as more time passes.

Mrs. Conn was at the Board meeting this evening to congratulate Hillary Cooper for receiving the Hecht Volunteer of the Year Award for 2017. She nominated Mrs. Cooper for this award. Mrs. Conn was also attending the meeting because she heard someone would come to the meeting to complain about the new PHS Men’s Soccer Coach. She had written a letter in support of the new coach and came to this Board meeting to express her support for the new coach. But it turned out that this person with complaints about the new soccer coach never showed up so she didn’t have to say much. She was impressed by how intense the beginning of the Board meeting was, especially around the topics of the new Athletic Director Vic Acuna and also the anti-semitic, racist and hateful speech/actions that happened recently at PHS. Mrs. Conn said that she will continue to write letters and do what she can to support the new soccer coach if more complaints are brought against him.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

          by Trang Le, Piedmont High School Senior

    The School Board meeting held on the night of May 10th was incredibly crowded. Small groups of concerned parents, coaches, and PHS staff spoke in hurried, hushed voices over plastic cups of wine and complimentary cheese outside the City Hall. The small chamber in which the meeting was held only could accommodate a mere 48 people. The small room adjacent to it provided a livestream of the events unfolding, and all the seats in both chambers were taken. Even so, crowds of Piedmont residents stood outside the chamber or sat on the carpet within, looking for answers from the Board of Education concerning the recent occurrences of anti-semitism within PHS and PMS.

    The Board opened with a statement acknowledging the hate speech, informing the audience of the assembly held at PHS that Monday. The Superintendent stressed to the critical audience that the School board prioritized students emotional state above everything else, and that these recent incidents do not define Piedmont. However, this and the complimentary cheese did little to sate the critical audience.

   Quickly moving on, the Board addressed the recently dismissed Basketball Coach and emails about annual coaching positions. With this, the atmosphere of the room changed to a restless one and it was obvious that their actions roused resentment among the residents. The speaker cards were then gathered, read aloud, and the podium opened to whoever wanted to speak out on the topic of hate-speech and fired coaches.

   The first and most controversial speaker, Alicia Kalamas, addressed both of these and more. She accused the School Board of their “anemic and delayed reaction” to the anti-semitism and racism on the school campuses as well as her emails. She also accused the Board of being racist themselves, briefly bringing up last years’ Bird Calling Contest and claiming it was rigged to knock an African American student from their rightful third place. Her speech was very briefly interrupted to tell her that she was rapidly approaching her five minute speaking limit. Kalamas then finished her speech by addressing a potential firing of the Athletic Director, claiming that she had sent an email some time ago questioning his credentials and employment in the Piedmont Unified School District.  Quickly wrapping up, she finished with a thinly veiled threat of legal action against the School Board if they did not properly address her concerns.

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the authors.
May 22 2017

The Piedmont Board of Education will discuss and consider the issues and concerns with recent incidences of discrimination on the Piedmont High School campus.  Speaking during the unscheduled public participation segment of the May 10 meeting, students and community members came to the Board expressing deep concern and seeking solutions for the highly distressing and disruptive problems on the high school campus.

 The Board has scheduled the matter for their consideration at approximately 7:30 p.m. during the May 24, 2017 School Board meeting held in the  Piedmont City Hall Council Chambers.  The meeting is open to the public and can also be viewed live from the City website or via Piedmont Cable Channel 27, KCOM.  

READ the agenda for the meeting here.

Below READ the staff report detailing the issues, actions, and potential solutions:

 517 VII_A_BackgroundOnSchoolClimateHealthyRelationships_0

May 22 2017

 Heated School Board Meeting Airs Personnel Dispute and Hate Incidents –

    The Piedmont School Board met at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, May 10th, in the City Council Chambers. Though the agenda of the meeting was to go over logistical policy for Piedmont schools, such as reviewing tax allocations from the H1 Bond Measure or evaluating math classes for the Common Core curriculum, the first hour of the meeting was dedicated to heated commentary from the community about the Athletic Director, Victor Acuna, and the current hate incident controversy at the high school.

    Concerned community members argued both on Acuna’s behalf and against him. Some of the controversy surrounding the new Athletic Director is attributed to the non-renewal of the former coach of the Piedmont High School Boy’s Basketball team of over two decades, Coach Lavdiotis.

    Since Lavdiotis’ contract was not renewed, some community and regional individuals sparked disagreement with Victor Acuna’s dismissal of an upstanding community member and beloved coach.  One speaker in particular, Alicia Kalamas, Piedmont resident, brought up Acuna’s personal life, pointing to custody litigation and his previous position at a high school in Arizona. However, other community members supported Victor Acuna, saying that his decision was justified, and that Coach Lavdiotis may not be the best coach for the Piedmont High School Boy’s Basketball team any longer.

    Board trustee Andrea Swenson expressed her frustrations with the Acuna controversy, stating that she is tired of the character assassination of the Athletic Director, which she feels is perpetuated by The Piedmont Post; she received a standing ovation for her comments in support of Acuna.

    Other non-agendized items that community members spoke about were the hate controversies at the high school. Earlier that week, members of the Piedmont High School community and the Piedmont community at large learned of anti-semitic, racist, and homophobic incidents at the school through a student-held assembly.

    Multiple community members spoke about the hate incidents. Police Chief Bowers spoke about his role in addressing the hate incidents. He stated that since none of the eight victims have come to the Police Department about the hate incidents, they cannot be classified as hate crimes. Still, he asserted, the community must come together and protect the victims during this time, and that he sympathizes with the victims of the incident. Other community members also discussed the anti-semitic incidents in front of the Board, conveying their concerns as parents and asking for accountability and answers.

    When I addressed the Board about the hate incidents, I also mentioned the issue of accountability and transparency. I spoke about my experience as a student watching the high school’s assembly and the lack of details or clarity that the assembly provided. I walked the Board through what specifically was going through my mind as I attended the assembly, and how I had to ask around afterwards for details on the incidents, confused and unaware. Concluding my speech, I requested the School Board to explain what exactly was happening with the anti-semitic incidents so that the students knew about what horrible things were going on within our student body. As a student, I was and still am confused about the discriminatory incidents at the high school due to a lack of a clear explanation from the administration. I believe that the administration should have a transparent conversation with the members of the community in order to resolve things, as opposed to keeping the incident under wraps.

    After comments from the audience, the Board continued with the agenda, which involved recognizing Hilary Cooper for Volunteer of the Year, which included working to pass Measure A parcel tax and reviewing two possible math courses for Piedmont High School, Integrated Math 3 and Honors Math Analysis.

     I spoke to Michael Brady, Director of Alternative/Adult Education, who expressed his support for the math courses. Mr. Brady, who was there to give a presentation to the Board on the H1 bond program, told me that it was a relief to hear about the courses.

    “It was very nice to see closure on the math instruction,” Mr. Brady told me, “because it is the culmination of literally years of work.”

    Mr. Brady also expressed his support of the community members and their concerns.

    “People can speak about non-agendized items because it’s a part of the democratic process. People can speak to the items not on the agenda and have the ability and freedom to do that.”

    The School Board meets every second and fourth Wednesday of the month. Though they have an agenda, any member of the community can become involved in deliberations by expressing their concerns to the Board at the beginning of every meeting and when agendized items are considered.

by Victoria Hou, Piedmont High School Senior –

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
May 17 2017
Many Piedmonters have noticed a tall pole (example of proposed installations) at the entrance to Piedmont Park and Witter Field next to Wildwood Elementary School.  Some concern has been expressed regarding the installation of cell towers at some of the ten locations listed below.

The following is the City’s announcement dated May 16, 2017 informing Piedmont residents of an application to install wireless communication poles.

City to Consider Application for Small Wireless Facilities

The City of Piedmont is considering an application from Crown Castle NG West LLC for nine proposed Verizon small cell wireless communication facilities, located generally around Piedmont Park and Piedmont High School, for a new Distributed Antenna System (DAS) installation. Crown Castle NG West LLC is a company that builds wireless communication facilities and then leases them to wireless service providers, such as AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and Verizon.

The Park Commission is scheduled to consider the applicant’s request to remove street trees at some of the sites at its regular meeting of June 7, 2017 [5:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers] and make a recommendation to the City Council.

The Planning Commission is scheduled to consider the design and location of each proposed small cell site at its regular meeting of June 12, 2017 [5:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers] and make a recommendation to the City Council.

The City Council will consider the matter at a date to be determined, based upon the action of the two Commissions.

Each of these meetings [Park Commission and Planning Commission] will be televised live on KCOM-TV [Cable Channel 27], the City’s government TV station and will be available through streaming video on the City’s web site www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/video

The project consists of five proposed installations on the tops of existing utility poles, three proposed installations on existing street lights, and one proposed installation on a new street light. The applicants have proposed that ground equipment related to the pole top antennas would be located in vaults beneath the sidewalk. A map of the proposed installations is shown below and on the City website. The proposed small cell wireless communication facilities would be located near the following addresses:

  1. 340 & 370 Highland Ave.
  2. 505 Blair Ave.
  3. 799 Magnolia Ave.
  4. 358 Hillside Ave.
  5. 303 Hillside Ave.
  6. 428 El Cerrito Ave.
  7. 355 Jerome Ave.
  8. 1159 Winsor Ave.
  9. 314 Wildwood Ave.

The City will post updated information regarding this application on its web site and use other electronic means to keep the public at large informed of the status of this application. The City will also notify residents near the proposed sites, as required by City Code.

Placement of wireless communication facilities is governed by state and federal law, including rules requiring cities to allow certain wireless communication facilities in the public right-of- way. Cities cannot place conditions on, deny, or approve a proposed wireless facility based upon the health effects if the applicant demonstrates that the project meets federal safety requirements. Under the Federal Telecommunications Act (1996), the federal government decides the safe levels of exposure to electromagnetic field (EMF) radiation.

In early May 2017, Crown Castle constructed a mock-up to represent the height and form of a proposed new street light and wireless antenna near the Wildwood Avenue entrance to Piedmont Park. In addition, signs have been posted at each of the proposed sites to help build awareness of the proposal.

Residents are invited to send comments regarding the proposal, addressed to the Park Commission and to the Planning Commission, to Piedmont City Hall care of:

Senior Planner Pierce Macdonald-Powell at pmacdonald@piedmont.ca.gov

All comments received will become part of the public record and will be provided to the Commissions and City Council. For more information, including application materials, please visit the City of Piedmont’s web site at http://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/

To view the maps and information provided by the applicant, click below:

http://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/publicworks/docs/crowncastle/coveragemap.pdf

May 11 2017

May 3 Park Commission Meeting – 

   On May 3, 2017, I attended a Park Commission meeting. The Commission gathers on the first Wednesday of every month. The meeting was to update the Commission on the status of the parks, including the Linda Kingston Triangle, the Hampton Park Master Plan, the Hall Fenway, the success of Arbor Day, and the monthly maintenance report.

    My addition to the agenda was my proposal to connect the Park Commission with the Piedmont High School AP Environmental Science class. I attended the class last year and really enjoyed it. The class assigns volunteer hours for homework and having attended a past Commission meeting, I had the idea to start a dialogue between the city and the class. Attending the Park Commission meeting I felt that what is taught in the class is brought into reality by the Commission, and students love real world examples. I hope that they can work together so that Piedmont can stay beautiful and educate its future generations.

    The Linda Kingston Triangle is nearing completion, with its ribbon cutting event planned for late May. All that needs to happen is the flip of a breaker switch to turn on the three lights illuminating the landscaping. Once completed, the triangle will add to Piedmont’s already lovely environment.

    I am happy to see Hampton Park coming along. Five of the six backboards were installed on the basketball courts, and a foul pole was installed for the baseball field. In order to streamline maintenance on the field, the Commission is developing a maintenance plan with PRZ. Gillian Peters and Emily Szerdy both spoke out on their concerns for the park. There is a planter built where a rogue base runner could make contact, mentioned by Emily. Gillian added that the lights illuminating the planter are too bright, proving a distraction for drivers. These concerns are likely to be addressed. I’m sure Hampton Park could have some AP Environmental Science students make their mark on this park, also.

    The most intriguing part of this meeting was the update on Hall Fenway. The small park on the corner of Wildwood and Crocker Avenue, was once a section of a commuter railway line, part of the Key System. Knowing that, I looked at a satellite image of Piedmont.  When I looked at the image, it is obvious that houses have been built on the railway, because of how straight and narrow their plots of land are. The Hall Fenway will have work done to replace struggling shrubs and groundcover, renew the mulch and adjust the irrigation system. This park was always a breath of fresh air walking home from school for me.

    After the meeting had adjourned, I had the chance to interview Chester Nakahara. He is the Director of Public Works in Piedmont and was at the meeting because the Park Commission is under his purview. He mentioned that the Park Commission has finally gotten a break from consideration of the winter storms and they are able to move forward. He is pleased that his staff performs “continually superlative work”, and that students like me are attending these meetings. Things are moving swiftly as Piedmont is recovered from the winter.  The meeting surprised Mr. Nakahara by how short and concise the meeting was.

By Mathison Richards, Piedmont High School Senior –

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
May 3 2017

Students express disappointment in the decision process –

As reported > here, “PUSD has announced a groundbreaking ceremony on May 18 for the Wall of Honor at the Chris Stevens Memorial library, which will house a database recognizing past and current service members from Piedmont.”

According to reports, the installation in the library did not receive School Board consideration nor approval because funding was coming from outside sources.

Perhaps unknown to the School Board, a controversy over the installation existed amongst students, who wanted the matter publicly aired and considered based on a process prior to approval of the project by the Superintendent.

In an editorial published April 26, 2017 in The Piedmont Highlander, Piedmont High School’s student newspaper, the editors agreed to the following statement:

“As an editorial board, we once again feel that the school has decided to enact something that would directly impact the student community without adequate input from students. If we were to take a poll about the Wall of Honor (which we urge the administration to do) – not even just asking if students support it, but if they have every heard of it – we estimate that more than half of the student body would have no idea what we are even referring to. This lack of information concerns us, and it should concern students, teachers, and the community alike.”  The Piedmont Highlander

A statement made by a prior Piedmont Highlander Editorial Board stated:

“Proposals like these should have a standardized process for approval in order to fully consider the nuances and create opportunity for thoughtful community feedback.

“As part of a standardized process, a set of criteria needs to be established. One criterion that we should consider is whether a campus display honoring graduates should honor them only for activities that directly involve the school. PHS generally does not recognize its graduates for their service to society — no matter how admirable – and it would be highly impractical to honor every graduate who leaves a positive impact on the world.”  The Piedmont Highlander

May 2 2017

Resignation, Public Involvement, Selection Process –

Millennium High School Principal Sati Shah was appointed as the High School Principal & Associate Superintendent at Mt. Shasta High School in the Siskiyou Union High School District, beginning July 1, 2017.

Principal Shah helped to provide a smooth transition for students and staff when he stepped into the role of Principal at Millennium High School in 2015. He quickly focused on community-building and strengthening the culture at MHS. Principal Shah also provided key leadership in the implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards and course pathways and assisted in developing the Connected Learning 1:1 Chromebook program.

“While this is a tremendous loss for Millennium High School and PUSD, I wish to congratulate Sati on this exciting new chapter in his professional life. Mt. Shasta High School is a great fit for Principal Shah as he and his family spend considerable time in the Mt. Shasta area,” said Superintendent Booker. “Sati will be sorely missed by students, parents, and staff alike. He’s made a tremendous impact on the school that will be challenging to replace. I personally want to express my thanks for Sati’s dedication and leadership of Millennium High School for the past 2 years,” continued Booker.

The District will facilitate a process to advertise, interview, and select a new MHS Principal for the 2017-18 school year.

~~~ Selection Process for MHS Principal ~~~

The advertising of a Principal position across the country is facilitated via local, state and national papers/sites, including colleges and universities and school districts. ACSA (Association of California School Administrators) produces a well-read and broadly distributed publication called the Ed-CAL where all districts publish job postings.

The District will publish the position posting on May 1st on Edjoin.org. The MHS Principal is a 0.6FTE administrative position. To help round-out the position to full-time in order to attract qualified candidates, the District will also post a 0.4FTE Adult Education Principal. The selected candidate will assume the responsibilities of both positions.

Below is a link to the position brochure that is sent to colleges, universities, county offices of education, and school across the state.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B-vdk-LUzFEkbUZIaVM5empRaEk

Due date for applications: May 19, 2017.

~~~ Community Engagement ~~~

It is important that the community of educators, students, and families have an opportunity to provide the District with input as to the desired traits and educational vision of the next MHS Principal.

Superintendent Booker will meet with administrators, staff, parents, and students during the month of May to gather their input as to the desired traits and educational vision of the next MHS Principal.

Staff: May 12, 2017 – 8:00am Staff Meeting

Students: May 5, 2017 – 1:20pm

Parents: May 16, 2017 – 7pm – Room #47

Recognizing that not all families, staff, and students can/will attend the input meetings, an online survey/feedback tool has been developed for all constituents to be able to provide input as to the traits, qualifications and educational vision desired in the next MHS Principal.

Click here to access the survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/MHSPrincipal17-18
The input gathered from the meetings and the online survey/feedback tool will be provided to the Piedmont Unified School District Board of Education and the Interview Committee.

~~~ Interview Process ~~~

The first round of interviews will include representatives from teachers, classified staff, administrators, students, parents, and a Board Member. The interview committee is comprised of the following participants:

(1) Superintendent
(3) MHS Teachers
(1) MHS Counselor
(1) MHS Classified Staff (2) MHS Students

(1) Director
(1) School Site Administrator
(3) MHS Parents
(1) Adult Education Representative (1) Board Member
___________
14 Members

The District will work with the MHS Parents’ Club Presidents to determine which parents serve on the committee. The District will also work with union leadership to determine which teachers and classified staff serve on the committee. Lastly, the District will work collaboratively with the MHS Associated Study Body (ASB) Leadership Class to determine which 2 students serve on the committee.

This first interview will occur on May 26th and typically lasts a full day. Prior to the 1st interview, when the interview committee has been selected, the District will send out an email to the group, giving them the executive summary from the community/student/staff feedback survey and asking each of them to bring sample interview questions that we can discuss as a full interview team. The first part of the morning will be spent jointly developing interview questions for the candidates.

At the end of the 1st round of interviews, the committee will make a recommendation to the Superintendent of their top candidates.

The District will schedule a 2nd round of interviews on May 30th for the top candidates to meet with the Superintendent. The Board of Education will also interview the top candidates.

The target date for a final decision by the Board of Education is June 14th, 2017. This will provide adequate time for a positive transition in preparation of the start date of July 1, 2017.

From the Office of the Superintendent – 760 Magnolia Avenue – Piedmont, CA 94611 – 510.594.2614

May 1, 2017

May 2 2017

Wall to honor Piedmont military service members.

“PUSD has announced a groundbreaking ceremony on May 18 for the Wall of Honor at the Chris Stevens Memorial library, which will house a database recognizing past and current service members from Piedmont.

“In 2015, Katie Korotzer and Terisa Whitted, Piedmont residents and parents of PHS alums who entered the armed forces, began their initiative to honor service members. With the help of the Piedmont Historic Society and other community members, Korotzer and Whitted collected a list of over 1,200 PHS alumni and residents who have served in the US military or the foreign service. The committee plans to incorporate this database of names into the Wall of Honor.

“The Piedmont Education Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, currently fiscally sponsors the Wall of Honor, so all donations made towards the $50,000 goal are tax deductible. As the Wall of Honor proposal called for funding through community donations and not the school’s general fund, it never appeared before the school board for a vote or discussion, Pearson said.”

Read the full report from The Piedmont Highlander student newspaper by clicking here.

 

May 2 2017

Community input provides ideas for the High School building projects. – 

by Samantha Merigold, Piedmont High School Senior –

The Piedmont Unified School District held three Town Hall meetings to get the community’s input on the options for the new high school facilities.  I attended the third meeting on Tuesday, April 18.  The purpose of the meeting was to get feedback on the three proposed options for new facilities at the high school.

In Piedmont’s last election, Bond measure H1 passed, and as a result we have funding for new high school facilities, as they are the oldest of all the schools in Piedmont.  These meetings are held to hear from the community so the Board of Education can take these opinions into account when making a decision on the new designs in May.  The meeting started with a quick presentation and overview.  They described all three options, and then we moved on to table group discussions about the pros and cons of each option.

Option 1 included a new three story STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) building located behind the gym where the portables are currently.  Option 1 would have a completely new theater, and a 20s building remodel and office relocation.  The benefits of Option 1 are that it is the least expensive, it does the minimum of what is needed, and the STEAM building blends in with the topography well when it is located down the hill.  Some challenges include student flow going to and from upper and lower campus, and the tradeoff with the loss of view from the quad but the nice views from within the STEAM building.

Option 2 places the new STEAM building where Alan Harvey Theater is currently located and a new theater.  The PHS offices would be in the STEAM building and the 20s building would undergo a remodel.  Option 2 would provide a new face for the school, the STEAM building would be central campus, and there would be a clear entrance to the school that the PHS offices could oversee.  Some additions that would be nice for Option 2 would be some rooftop student space, because with the new building a lot of lunch spots are lost.  A drawback is it takes an extra ½ a year.

Option 3 would place the new STEAM building where Binks Gym is currently located, replaces the 10s building with a new gym, and places the PHS office in the 40s building.  Benefits of option 3 include a good location of the gym, it is very clear and easy to find for visitors.  The amphitheater is removed because no one really used it anyways, and the PHS offices are at the entrance.

When we started the final recommendations portion of the meeting, we came up with the suggestion that it would be nice to have the location of the Wellness Center, counselors, and College and Career Center all near each other and easy to find.  We thought a helpful alteration to option 3 would be to put the PHS offices in the STEAM building, and keep MHS in the 40s building.  Also a major concern for students is parking, but they have already explored possibilities for parking and they are far too expensive.

After the meeting, I had the opportunity to speak with Eileen Ruby, a member on the board of the Piedmont Education Foundation.  She attended this meeting because she voted for this bond and wanted to see where it was going.  She said what happens at this school is part of the District, so it is important for her to be there.  She is also often asked for her opinion on the new facilities so she comes to these meetings so she can have an educated response to give them.

This meeting consisted of table group discussions, so I was able to speak on several different topics.  For Option 1 I brought up my past experience from the middle school, explaining that the classrooms there had nice views, but the windows were always closed and classrooms far too warm, so the view from the quad is more valuable than the views from the rooms in that building.  I also spoke on the challenge of student flow to and from the STEAM building.  The only way to get to it would be down several flights of stairs, with narrow walkways and too many students moving through.  I mentioned the fact that there are always several injured students at PHS and there is no way someone would be able to maneuver their way there on crutches.

For Option 2, I mentioned that PHS does not look like a school and a lot of people don’t even realize it’s a high school when they drive past.  Option 2 would provide a new face for the school, and make it easy to find as well as showcase our beautiful new STEAM building.  I also talked about the benefit of having a clear entrance to the school.  It is better for safety, and the PHS offices can oversee who comes in and out of the school.  For Option 3 I talked about how the gym is very hard to find, I constantly get asked by random drivers if they are in the right place when looking for the gym.  Having the gym in the front would make it easier to find and also showcase Piedmont’s athletics, something that is a huge part of our student body.  I explained that the amphitheater gets very little use, you can hear everything that everyone says in there so not a lot of people eat lunch there, so we are not losing much by getting rid of it.

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.

[To view the Piedmont Highlander student newspaper report on the 3 proposals for the High School click here.]

May 1 2017

Students should determine the direction for the rebuilding of the High School.

by Cade Becker, Piedmont High School Senior –

The Piedmont Unified School District continues to receive feedback on their various plans to rebuild the Piedmont High School (PHS) campus using part of the $66 million funds provided by Bond Measure H1. On April 18th, I attended one of the New School Facilities Advisory meetings to see where the direction of the school was headed.

Architects and engineers hired for this rebuilding process came together and produced 3 potential plans with estimated total costs. Option 1 was to tear down and rebuild the theater, and to add in a new math, science and art 3 story building in the parking lot next to the gym. Option 2 was to tear down the theater and build the new 3 story building there, and afterwards tearing down the 10s building and adding the new theater there. Option 3 took on the idea of moving the gym. It throws the idea out to tear down the gym and build the new 3 story building in its place and move the gym to where the 10s building is now.

The overall majority of the meeting participants enjoyed Option 2 the best, however there was no set agreement on any option. Option 1 and 3 would compromise the view that the student body of PHS holds so dear, but Option 2 would create a 3 story building at the face of our campus looming over the rest. Most of the questions came from parents or other community members present.

After the controversial voter denial of Measure H, a plan to rebuild the theater, my assumption that the theater would be a sore subject was correct. There seemed to be many supporters for taking down the theater, but there were still others who did not deem it necessary.

As a member of the Piedmont High School Acting class, having performed in the PHS musical all four years in my high school career, participated in many other short plays and two Acapella reviews, I understand better than most that the theater is high priority. I am a strong advocate for the creation of the new theater. It is worn down, dangerous, not wheelchair accessible and more. Buildings can only be renovated so much before they need to be taken down completely, I believe the theater has reached this point. Option 2 is the best of the three because it solves the most issues within the school and creates a face that Piedmont High School lacks.

In an interview with Donna Meir, a parent who has children in the Piedmont schools, I was able to grasp an alternative view on the subject. Intending to continue her involvement with the process, she said, “This is a great process. These options sparked a dynamic conversation between community members, and I appreciate the discussion. It was a great thing to see the community so involved.” Fortunate to be a part of the conversation, I gave my opinions to her as well as others at my table.

 I believe that the direction of the High School should largely come from the student body. The students attending the High School should be more involved in the conversation than parents, or other community members because they are directly affected. The students present at this meeting gave the best opinions and ideas for the rebuilding of the school. This process needs to be more in their hands rather than the community itself.

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.