Sep 21 2018

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

We are writing to you in support of our close friend Julie Caskey, and to ask you to join us in voting for Julie for the Piedmont School Board on November 6.

We have known Julie since she moved to Piedmont seven years ago. In that time she has been a tireless volunteer in our schools, and advocate for our children. As important, she has demonstrated herself to be an strong ethical and fair-minded leader of our community, traits we need more than ever in our schools and in our town.

Our schools are often considered to be the Crown Jewels of our community, and are currently facing challenges on multiple fronts including teacher retention, fiscal planning, and a national political climate that makes it imperative that our schools teach not just academics, but also compassion and kindness. Julie is precisely the sort of leader our School Board needs.

Julie has deep connections throughout our town and school district, based on the work she has done and the conversations she has conducted. She has worked with and earned the support of parents, teachers, and administrators through her unswerving dedication to “students first.” As a mother of four children currently in all three levels of the Piedmont schools, she has served in an incredible variety of roles covering academic, financial, and diversity topics.

As a practicing public interest lawyer for two decades, Julie worked as a law guardian for children, a public defender, an immigration and civil rights attorney, and a staff attorney for the United States District Court in San Francisco. She brings the the legal background and leadership experience we need on the school board, especially in these times of teacher shortages, incidents of racism and sexism, and financial challenges. She’ll also be the only parent of younger kids on the School Board, as there are only two high school parents on the five member board.

In her professional and volunteer activities, Julie has demonstrated over and over again her commitment to service and to community. She is incredibly well qualified to serve on the school board, and will be a powerful, independent advocate for our children and our schools.

Please see her website, for more on her background.

We could not be prouder or more excited to endorse Julie Caskey for the Piedmont School board, and hope you will join us in that support. Please join hundreds of Piedmont residents, elected officials, and community leaders, and vote for Julie Caskey for Piedmont School Board on November 6.

Elizabeth Shook and Cisco DeVries
Campaign Co-Chairs
Julie Caskey for Piedmont Schools

Sep 21 2018

Renovations are projected to cost millions. 

On September 17th of 2018, the Piedmont City Council met in the Council Chamber of City Hall. The meeting opened with a designated ten-minute period of open comments, where community members can speak on items not listed on the general agenda.

Mr. Maganas, a longtime resident of Piedmont, highlighted a lack of knowledge among parents and students concerning the Peralta Community College system offering college-level classes such as Calculus I and II through Berkeley City College, Laney College, and three others. The Peralta Colleges offer a valuable resource to students hoping to challenge themselves academically with advanced courses. Maganas hoped to increase awareness of this resource among high school students and parents.

Mayor Robert McBain declared September a month of Suicide Prevention Awareness, as a part of the national effort to reduce suicide and self-harm, especially among teens. Council members, such as Teddy King, voiced unwavering support for McBain in raising this issue, as she has lost family members in the past to suicide.

Next, an East Bay Regional Park District Board Member, Dee Rosario gave the Council a report on Measure FF. Measure CC, which passed in 2004, stipulates that twelve dollars a year are received from properties and used for park infrastructure, ecological projects, electrical maintenance, fuel reduction, sewage cleanup, and restroom repair; for example, the Crab Cove Visitor Center is now open year-round thanks to funding from Measure CC, as opposed to only a few months or a season at a time. Measure CC has been rebranded as Measure FF and falls under the same stipulations for funding. Measure FF has been renewed for the next twenty years.

The Council then discussed the consideration of appointing a new Piedmont Fire Chief.  After a lengthy vetting process by two separate panels composed of respected Piedmont residents and others working in law or government, City Administrator Paul Benoit had presented to the City Council the narrowed field of two applicants.

The Council then interviewed the two finalists, selecting Bret Black, currently serving in Clovis, California. This comprehensive search arose following the retirement of beloved community-member Bud McLaren, who faithfully served as Fire Chief in Piedmont for five years. Following a unanimous vote among the City Council members, Bret Black was hired to fill the Fire Chief position beginning October 1st with a starting annual salary of $193,164.

Closing out the agenda, two architects from the Bay Area firm Siegel & Strain – Larry Strain and Roland Lazzarotto -presented a report on potential renovations of Piedmont’s Recreation Center and the Piedmont Veterans’ Hall. Both buildings, are seventy-years old or older and are in dire need of renovation and remodeling.

Though not dilapidated, the floor plan of the Recreation Center is considered archaic, and the plans presented outline a better use of square footage and increased operational efficiency for educational use and programs.

For example, Lazzarotto drafted plans to reorganize the building layout, moving the preschool away from the entrance. In the event of an intruder, the rooms should be ordered in a fashion keeping the youngest children farthest from the main door.

Similarly, Lazzarotto proposed ripping out the driveway and replacing the space with a fenced off play area with shade and soft ground. Lastly, he proposed renovating the defunct attic into an office space and conference room, while installing an elevator to access all three main floors. On each floor, bathrooms would either be renovated or torn out, and modified to meet ADA accessibility standards.

In the case of the Veterans Hall, Lazzarotto sought to maximize efficiency in a similar manner: rip out the stage to create a larger ballroom, while establishing smaller classrooms and multi-purpose rooms on the side. The kitchen would be renovated and brought up to modern standards, in hopes of accommodating future weddings in the new space.

Before he left, I had the opportunity to briefly interview Mr. Lazzarotto about his role at the meeting tonight. He noted that his group, Siegel and Strain, focused on providing sustainable and affordable projects.

During the presentation, Councilwoman Jen Cavenaugh questioned the environmental sustainability of the building, and Mr. Larry Siegel- Lazzarotto’s companion – highlighted their plan to reuse the wood and install new windows, both reducing carbon emissions and waste.

The Recreational Center was in immediate need of increased accessibility; for example, the reception desk lies on the second floor, and is not wheelchair accessible.

Both buildings have outlived their functional use and require restructuring and renovation to meet the accessibility and safety standards of today. Now that the City Council has reached a general consensus and approval of the layouts, Lazzarotto will in the future provide drafts and layouts to City Administrator Paul Benoit.

As the discussion and presentation came to a close among the Council, student Mia Horvath asked City Administrator Paul Benoit- who had been working in conjunction with Siegel and Strain – how renovations and construction would affect public access to the space; for example, the Recreational Center sits at a major thoroughfare that parents drive by to drop off their kids at the Middle and High School. Though the Council did not have an immediate solution, Mayor McBain affirmed that a well-planned schedule would be released in the future to ease traffic and pedestrian flow.

Tim Rood mentioned that these renovations would mean losing access to the services of the Recreational Center for months on end, but Paul Benoit noted that it would be possible to relocate these offices and services for the duration of construction. The plans are currently in development and in their drafting phase, so all propositions and suggestions are subject to change.

The City Council meets on the 1st and 3rd Mondays of each month to discuss, consider, and announce citywide events, issues, notices, and more.

by Aaron Moy, Piedmont High School Senior

Sep 21 2018
“Hari Titan will be the School Board watchdog.”

Dear Editor,

Two School Board positions are open for election.  In addition to Julie Caskey, I will vote for Hari Titan.  Hari is a Ph.D. computer scientist who has worked in the financial industry.  Since moving to Piedmont ten years ago, Hari has deeply researched the bond financing methods our School Board used to pay for voter-approved seismic repairs and building construction.

Burrowing in, he discovered that the School Board refinanced the 2006 Seismic Bond from a CIB (Current Interest Bond) to a CAB (Capital Appreciation Bond) in 2013.  The CIB’s simple interest on the $12 million spent retrofitting Havens school would have cost a total of $19.8 million.  The refinanced CAB deferred payment, resulting in compound interest costing a total of $64 million.  Why did the School Board refinance with a bond that cost more than three times the original bond?

Hari asked that question and dug deep into documents.  He calculated that the refinanced CAB would cost us $44.2 million more than necessary, and he shared that finding with other Piedmont taxpayers.  Finally, in 2017 concerned Piedmont citizens convinced the School Board to refinance again, back to a CIB bond.  This current CIB bond saves us $26 million compared with the CAB bond.  It didn’t save us the entire $44.2 million because the CAB had a 10-year no-refinance provision.  The CAB investor gets to keep $18.8 million of our tax money with no discernible benefit to Piedmont.   But thanks to Hari, our loss has been minimized.

We need Hari Titan on the School Board to make sure the Board doesn’t try some other bonehead financing scheme with the recently-approved $60 million H1 Bonds.  We need transparency in school bond finance decision-making.  Board members should commit to NOT using the CAB bond financing method without public disclosure, input and approval.  With our votes Hari Titan will be the School Board watchdog.

Bruce Joffe, Piedmont Resident
Sep 21 2018
Physics and Spanish teacher vacancies to be filled by online computer programs. – 
School Board Meeting – 9/12/18 –

On Wednesday, September 12th, the Piedmont School Board met in the City Council Chambers for it’s bi-monthly meeting. The main focus of the meeting the budget and spending of the Piedmont Unified School District (PUSD).

The agenda started with announcement of the decisions of the School Board during the closed meeting.

Four Student Matters: Temporary PE Medical Exemptions – Education Code 35146 were approved.

Ms. Frank from the Piedmont Education Foundation (PEF) rose to commend the school administration for being transparent in the School District’s financials.

The Parents Club also chipped in $300,000 dollars, leaving a $200,000 difference left, which would be paid using reserves. However, this would empty the reserves, leaving no money for next year.

Next, Piedmont High School (PHS) ASB President Max Roitblat and Millennium High School (MHS) ASB Vice President Miles Smith reported what is going on in PHS and MHS.

After the report, the School Board opened the Public Forum, where attendees could address items not on the agenda.

Parent Deborah Leeland was to first to speak, expressing her and her daughter’s disappointment in the School District. Ms. Leeland mentions how her daughter has been without a physics teacher for 5 weeks, and given no instruction during those weeks, and showed her frustration in the school’s lack of a contingency plan.

PHS Senior Connor Tang came next, asking the Board to not hold the Class of 2019’s graduation ceremony in one of the school’s gyms. The Board announced that the graduation would not be held in the gym.

Next, PHS Senior Luke Anderson rose to ask about the school’s policy for transfer students in the athletics program. The Board suggested asking Mr. Littlefield or Mr. Powell for more information about the policy.

PHS Senior Ben Williamson rose next, commending the School Board for increasing the amount of food at the food court.

Afterwards, PHS Senior Will Wolfe came up to speak about the food court lines. He first complimented that the lines improved a lot with the addition of grade specific lines, but recommended opening up the side food court window and the Alan Harvey Theater ticket room to allow students to purchase only snacks.

Next, PHS Senior Margi Brayer rose to talk about the school’s trash problem. She mentioned how students leave trash all over Piedmont Park, and asked  the School Board to add more trash cans and think about relocating trash bins to encourage students to throw away their trash into correct bins.

PHS Senior Gillian Truesdell asked about how PHS clubs can raise money within the school. While the clubs can do so, the current system is tedious and a more direct system would be more beneficial to use. She also says that having pre-approval on what to sell and having more days to fundraise within school will allow clubs to raise more money.

PHS Senior Hannah Yin was the last to speak, thanking the School Board for holding more discussions about diversity.

The next item on the agenda was the Superintendent’s Announcements. Randall Booker updated the Board with the current physics and Spanish teacher vacancies, saying that “we all recognize that this is a extremely challenging time, and not ideal in any circumstances.”

Mr. Booker acknowledged that there is a teacher shortage all across California, especially in the Bay Area due to the high cost of living pricing teachers away from the area. He also announced that to move forward, the online learning service Edgenuity will be used. Although it is not the ideal solution, it is the best solution given the current circumstances, all while trying to find candidates to hire.

I agree that using an online course is, while not the best solution, is the only realistic choice to make given the current situation and the teacher shortage. While I agree, I feel that the choice in using an online course could have been implemented earlier instead of slowly adding it to the school more than five weeks into the school year.

After the Superintendent’s Announcements, the School Board moved to ratify the appointment of Erin Pope as PHS’s Assistant Principal. Mr. Booker cites Erin Pope’s experience as the associate principal at the Acalanes Unified School District, 15 years as a social studies teacher at Terra Linda High School, and how she attended Dominican College, Golden Gate University, and San Francisco State University.

Board member Cory Smegal motioned to ratify the appointment, seconded by Andrea Swenson. The School Board unanimously ratified Erin Pope’s appointment.

Superintendent Mr. Booker then introduced Ruth Alahydoian, Chief Financial Officer for PUSD, to present the 2017-2018 Unaudited Actuals Financial Report for approval. According to the report, the District ended the year with $26 million ($22 million from the H1 Bond, $2 million in the General Fund, and $2 million from other funds). The Districts expenditures have been growing faster than revenues, shrinking the fund balance and reserves.

The District must pay STRS & PERS more than what the LCFF generates for the fund. Alan Harvey Theater
had a donation fund of $26K, while Witter Field maintenance and repair funds has $422K. Ms. Swenson motioned to approve the report, being seconded by Amal Smith. The report was been approved unanimously.

Ruth Alahydoian explained the next item on the agenda, Resolution 05-2018-19 on Temporary Borrowing from County. “This is something that the District does every year,” Alahydoian says, “[the District] borrows from the County at times when the District’s cash is low.” Since the cash from revenues comes in December, the funds before December is low, so the borrowed cash would be used for payrolls, and may be used to earn interest until it the borrowed money is paid back on April. The District would borrow $5 million from the County. Ms. Smith motioned to approve the resolution, seconded by Ms. Smegal. The resolution passed unanimously.

Additionally, Alahydoian introduced Resolution 06-2018-19 – Gann Spending Limit. The limit was a result of a proposition dating back to 1979, where public agencies should not spend more than the limit set. “If we were to go over the limit, which we do not,” Alahydoian explains, “we would then fall within the state.” Every District’s limit is different; Piedmont’s limit is $26,571,060.97. The resolution was to tell the state that the District is below said limit. Ms. Swenson motioned to approve the report, which was seconded by Doug Ireland. The resolution passes unanimously.

The last action item on the agenda was the Certify Competence of Administrators in the Assessment of Certificated Employee. Superintendent Booker explains that the item is an annual certification to allow administrators to legally evaluate certificated staff. It is done to demonstrate that the administrators are cleared and holding their administrative service credentials. Ms. Smegal moved to approve the item, seconded by Ms. Smith. The item passes unanimously.

The meeting moved to the Board Reports and Announcements. Ms. Swenson, Ms. Smegal, and Ms. Smith all went to a Let’s Talk workshop, complimenting how many students attended the meeting.

Board member Doug Ireland announced the local elections will be happening soon, urging those who are old enough to vote to register. Sarah Pearson attended the PEF meeting, the Senior Parent Night, the Piedmont Center of the Arts with three Holocaust survivors event, commended the PHS teachers during Back-to-School Night, and announced that the films from the Diversity Film Series will be available at the PHS library.

The meeting ended with Sarah Pearson reading a list of accepted donations. The meeting officially adjourned at 8:43 p.m.

After the meeting, I interviewed attendee Megan Pillsbury. She was there to see how the meetings go, as she is running for a position on the School Board. “I think I’d like to help communication,” Pillsbury said, “because I was a teacher in the District, and I think there could be better communication between School Board members and teachers.” Although she has not taught in 4 years, she had trouble communicating with the School Board since there was no clear voice towards the Board.

by Connor Tang, Piedmont High School Senior

Sep 21 2018

The League of Women Voters Piedmont devised voter issues and questions for School Board and City Council November 6, 2018 candidates.

Press Release:

Earlier this summer, LWVP newsletter readers provided 33 responses to our poll regarding issues and questions for City Council and School Board candidates. Four LWVP board member volunteers then ranked 20 questions from the poll and submitted the top 8 to:

Voters Edge website  (

We highlight the 3 most important issues selected and list the top 4 questions for each race. We also attach more detailed summaries of the poll and of the ranking process as well as the questionnaires used.

The list of issues in the poll were taken from a July 19th, 2018 Piedmont Civic Association website article entitled “TIME to RUN: Contested or Uncontested Piedmont City Council and School Board Elections” This list of issues is licensed under a Creative Commons License and was sorted alphabetically.

For the 33 respondents, chosen from many choices, the top 3 issues for City Council candidates were:

  1. Citizen involvement – open participatory processes
  2. Environmental matters
  3. Taxation increases

The top 4 questions submitted on the Council topics were:

  1. What plans do you have to support the many different populations of Piedmont with city programs and city facilities? And, how do you plan to promote and actively support inclusive practices within city government?
  2. How will you be responsive to citizens and to support and improve citizen involvement in city government?
  3. How can and will you mediate between different interest groups in Piedmont, including evaluating how representative the concerns of vocal minorities might be?
  4. How should the city decide whether and how to plan and pay for a new swimming pool or pools? How important is this to you?

For the 33 respondents, the top 3 issues for School Board candidates were:

  1. Personnel selections
  2. School construction within constraints of bond funding limits
  3. Revenues sufficient to support operations and programs

The top 4 questions for School Board candidates were:

  1. The District has a history of hiring staff and teachers with personal connections to Piedmont and current district staff. How will you reassure city residents that new hires are the best choice for students and the school and that hiring is not unduly influenced by personal connections?
  2. How could and would you increase transparency in district decision making?
  3. How could and would you continue or improve the recruitment and retention of excellent teachers?
  4. If elected, what would be your budgeting priorities? How can the school district prepare for increased pension liabilities? Can you identify areas in the budget when savings are possible?

Read the PCA article  “TIME to RUN: Contested or Uncontested Piedmont City Council and School Board Elections

Sep 18 2018


At its regular meeting on September 17, 2018, the City Council appointed Bret Black as Fire Chief of the City of Piedmont. Following a rigorous selection process, Mr. Black was chosen unanimously by the Council from a field of 27 candidates. Mr. Black’s first day as Fire Chief will be Monday, October 1st.

This appointment follows interviews of qualified candidates by two panels comprised of residents and public safety professionals, the City Administrator, and the full City Council, which made the final selection. The City Council unanimously agreed that Mr. Black will fit extraordinarily well with the community and the department.

Black began his family in Marin County where he married his wife Nimai and had three sons. His professional firefighting career began with Skywalker Ranch Fire Department in 1997. At the same time he remained active in the local community teaching first aid & CPR as a member of the neighboring volunteer fire department. A few years later he relocated to the Clovis Fire Department in the Central Valley. Mr. Black rose through the ranks from firefighter, engineer, captain, training officer, to battalion chief. Although Bret had an accomplished career with Clovis Fire, he and his wife both longed to come back to the Bay Area someday. Mr. Black brings a broad set of skills to Piedmont, specifically with training mandates, disaster preparedness, strategic planning, but most importantly an inclusive leadership style.

“We are pleased that the recruitment process developed such qualified candidates, in particular Bret Black,” said Mayor Robert McBain. “I would like to express my appreciation to members of the Council as well as the members of the interview panels: Mahvash Hassan, Jeffrey Horner, Lyman Shaffer, Lynne Wright, Don Bivins, Dave Rocha, and Elizabeth Warmerdam.”

“Bret has extensive experience in the fire service,” said Vice Mayor Teddy Gray King. “I believe he will be a tremendous asset to the Piedmont community, the City of Piedmont, and the Fire Department.”

“I believe that Bret Black will serve the City of Piedmont well as Fire Chief,” said City Administrator Paul Benoit. “Piedmont would have been well served with each of the finalists, however Mr. Black distinguished himself during the interviews.”

“Serving as Fire Chief in Piedmont will allow me to be part of a community that values its culture and heritage,” Black said. “I look forward to serving the residents and firefighters of Piedmont and to build on the existing talent within the organization.”

For conditions of employment, read prior PCA article HERE.

Sep 17 2018

The Wall of Honor at the Ambassador Christopher Stevens Library at Piedmont High School opened on Friday, September 14 at 4:30 p.m.


The Wall of Honor is an extension of the Ambassador Christopher Stevens Memorial Collection at the Piedmont High School Library and is part of Piedmont’s distinguished tradition of “Achieving the Honorable.” The Wall of Honor lists Piedmont Service Members who have bravely served our country in the US military and the Foreign Service from WWI to the present.

The Wall of Honor consists of three parts: a visual installation in the Piedmont High School Library, a permanent digital repository of the names of over 1,000 men and women from Piedmont who have served our country from WWI to the present, and an interactive website intended as a place where students as well as service members and their families can learn more about the service given to us by those from Piedmont.

The Wall of Honor website,, has been thoughtfully designed by talented local web designer, Kristen Long of Oakland based Mighty Minnow with direction from professional museum display designer Agata Malkowski, to be a site that can grow over time as service members and their families contribute more names, service details and photographs. It is hoped that Piedmont High School students as well as community members will access and use the site as a resource of factual information and thoughtful contemplation.

A Wall of Honor planning committee has worked for the past two years with the Piedmont Unified School District (PUSD), the City of Piedmont, the Piedmont Historical Society, and the family of Ambassador Stevens to plan the project and raise the funds necessary to make it a reality.

The public may visit the Wall of Honor online at any time ( or in person at the Piedmont High School Library during school hours after first signing in at the school office.


The following is the statement made at the opening of the Wall of Honor on Friday, September 14, 2018 . 

Thank you for being here today as we officially open the Wall of Honor!

A special welcome to the Stevens Family. We are honored to have you here and it is with special consideration that we remember Ambassador Christopher Stevens on the sixth anniversary of his passing.

I, and my fellow committee members are so proud of this project for a number of reasons. First of all because the Wall of Honor fulfills a need in the school community for a place to recognize and learn more about the service provided to our country by Piedmonters from WWI to the present in the military and diplomatic service.

Inspired by Ambassador Stevens, and continuing his legacy, we hope the young people of Piedmont will use the Wall of Honor as a resource for reflection and inquiry. By doing so they will be able to share in the lessons, whether easy or hard, that military or diplomatic service can teach. Hopefully this sort of inquiry will also give our community a chance to reflect on what public service means to them and how best to incorporate it into their lives.

We believe that students, and our country will be the better for it.

Secondly, and just as important, I am proud of the collaboration and cooperation that has marked this project’s creation. Keeping in mind the school’s motto: “Achieve the Honorable”, while planning the Wall of Honor, we sought input and advice from the Stevens family, school administrators, teachers, students, the Piedmont Historical Society, the City of Piedmont, veterans and current service members. I believe the Wall of Honor that you see today truly reflects this thoughtful approach.

Along the way, we were extremely fortunate to have met Agata Malkowski, without whom this project would never have come to life. Agata is a talented and successful museum experience designer, who happens to have a soft spot in her heart for the US Marine Corps. Agata had the professional know how to take this project from an idea to reality. Thank you, Agata.

And of course, we are also extremely grateful that we had the opportunity to work with web design firm Mighty Minnow, based locally in Oakland and headed by the extraordinary Kristen Long. The Piedmont Education Foundation introduced us to Mighty Minnow, and we feel very fortunate that Mighty Minnow has applied their creativity and professional ability to the Wall of Honor website.

The Wall of Honor consists of three parts:

  1. A permanent digital database which can be added to over time, of the names and service details of Piedmonters from WWI to the present who have served our country in uniform and the diplomatic service.
  2. A physical place of inquiry and reflection that can be visited by students, teachers and the community.
  3. A digital repository which can grow over time, to collect the stories, memories and information about the time in service performed by Piedmonters.

In closing, I would like to share my personal aspiration for the Wall of Honor here at PHS.

The World and National news we hear today of entrenched partisan politics, global environmental concerns, mass immigration worldwide, and never ending wars can make the world seem like an unapproachable mess and it is easy to see how a student might feel that his or her individual actions would not make a difference.

Yet, as extraordinary as we feel this time is, it is certainly not unique in history. Piedmont students have faced extraordinary times since WWI and have taken the education they received here out into the broader world to help make it a better place.

Piedmont students have been fortunate since the founding of the school to be in an environment where they learn and put to use the building blocks necessary for lifelong education. Critical thinking, the capacity to care and practical know-how are tools that Piedmont students are equipped with upon graduation.

Just as Ambassador Stevens will forever be remembered for his leadership in taking these tools and using them to build better understanding and cooperation between cultures on the world stage, my hope is that the Wall of Honor will be place where Piedmont students can find a source of knowledge, strength and inspiration to go out and lead the way to make our world a safer and more caring place.

Katie Korotzer  for the Wall of Honor Committee 

Click photos for enlargement. 

Photo Credit: Lindsay Barstow.

Pictured are Erin Pope, Assistant Principal at PHS, Kathleen Winters Wall of Honor Committee Member, Dana Lung, Judge Tom Stevens and Daughters Elena and Olivia Stevens, Mary Commanday, mother of Ambassador Christopher Stevens, Adam Littlefield PHS Principal, Katie Korotzer Wall of Honor Committee Member, Amal Smith PUSD School Board Member, Randall Booker PUSD Superintendent, Terisa Whitted Wall of Honor Committee Member and Agata Malkowski Wall of Honor Designer.

Photo Credit: Lindsay Barstow.

Pictured are Agata Malkowski, Wall of Honor Designer demonstrating the Wall of Honor Website to Mary Commanday, mother of Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

1 Comment »
Sep 16 2018

Dear Editor:

I am grateful when quality school board members decide to run for re-election. As the only incumbent, Board Vice President Amal Smith will continue to bring a K-12 perspective to board deliberations and decision-making, keeping the needs of all students first.

In addition to the fiduciary experience she has gained in her first term, Amal brings a wealth of knowledge to the Board with 28 years of higher education budget, finance, and management experience.

Most importantly, Amal brings an unwavering commitment to working collaboratively with others to solve problems with thoughtfulness, common sense, and an open mind.

Please join me in voting for Amal Smith on November 6th. Thank you.

All the best,
June Monach
Former School Board President and Trustee

Sep 15 2018

Bret Black is scheduled to be appointed by the Piedmont City Council as Piedmont Fire Chief at a starting salary of $193,164.  The appointment and employment conditions resolution will be considered at the Monday, September 17, 2018, Piedmont City Council meeting, 7:30 p.m., City Hall.  The meeting will be broadcast live via Cable Channel 27 and the City website under videos. See full employment agreement linked below.

The Council selected Black after interviewing two of the 27 applicants for the position of Fire Chief.  Upon Council appointment, Bret Black will serve as Fire Chief, effective October 1, 2018.

The Fire Chief vacancy occurred when Fire Chief Warren “Bud” McLaren announced his intention to retire, effective July 6, 2018. McLaren had served the City of Piedmont for thirty years.

The City Council retained the services of Peckham & McKenney, a Sacramento based executive search firm. Peckham & McKenney advertised the employment opportunity extensively, using personal outreach, traditional print and electronic marketing, as well as social media. As a result of the recruitment efforts, 27 applicants submitted resumes for consideration. After reviewing each of the resumes and conducting on-line research on applicants who appeared most qualified, the recruiter selected twelve candidates to undergo screening interviews.

The City Council interviewed two pre-screened finalists and selected Bret Black.

“The employment resolution proposed for Council consideration contains all elements common to other Department Heads. The proposed annual salary is $193,164, which is the amount earned by Chief McLaren upon his retirement. Should the City Council approve the appointment and the resolution, Mr. Black’s first day with the City will be on Monday, October 1, 2018.”

“The City Council wishes to acknowledge the special public service rendered by the City’s management personnel. Management personnel consists of all department heads and the City Administrator. Under the operational coordination of the City Administrator, management personnel are responsible for producing the quality and effectiveness of City services, as required by the City Council.”

There will be a 3% annual salary increase for Black during the term of the resolution.

3.1 Salary – Monthly:  The monthly rate of pay for the Fire Chief is $16,097. The rates of pay shown reflect the following cost-of-living increases during the term of this Resolution:

  • % Increase Monthly Effective 7/1/2019 3% $16,580
  • Effective 7/1/2020 3% $17,078
  • If, during the term of this Resolution, any other bargaining unit is offered a cost of living increase greater than the increases shown above for the same fiscal year, then the difference between the increase for the other bargaining unit and the increase provided under this Resolution will take effect for the Fire Chief.

The City Administrator will make recommendations on future compensation for consideration and action by the City Council.


“10.2 Termination: Pay Upon termination or resignation requested by the City Council, the City will provide the employee at least one (1) month’s pay and benefit coverage as set forth in Sec. 3 hereof, or more at its discretion. This section would not apply in the event of the employee’s voluntary resignation or removal from office involving conviction of a felony, gross negligence or dereliction of duty, dishonest or immoral conduct, intemperance which interferes with job performance or conviction of a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude.”

READ the full staff report and proposed compensation agreement linked below:

1 Comment »
Sep 13 2018

After posting the position and conducting a thorough search and interview process, the Piedmont Unified School  District is thrilled to announce the appointment of  Ms. Erin Pope as an Assistant Principal at Piedmont High School. Her start date was August 27, 2018.

Ms. Pope has extensive teaching experience, as well as a strong background in high school administration.

Ms. Pope served as the Associate Principal for the Acalanes Union High School District since 2015. Her main areas of focus were in Curriculum and Instruction, Student Activities, and Teacher Evaluation. Additionally, she supervised a wide array of departments, including counseling and attendance, athletics, facilities, and student activities. She has experience as the Restorative Justice Coordinator, Site Literacy Lead, and Activities Director during her tenure.

For 15 years, Ms. Pope also served as a high school social studies teacher at Terra Linda High School in the San Rafael City Schools District. She was the social studies department chair and established the Model United Nations Club and the Peer Court Program. She was also a member of the Instructional Leadership Team and the Secondary Curriculum Advisory Council.

Ms. Pope attended Dominican College, where she received her Bachelor’s of Arts in International Relations. She holds a Single Subject Teaching Credential in Social Science and a Clear Administrative Services Credential from San Francisco State University. Additionally she holds two Master’s of Arts Degrees—one in International Relations from Golden Gate University and the other in Education Administration from San Francisco State University.

The District received 26 applications and decided to interview five strong candidates. The interview panel consisted of ten members representing teachers, administrators, classified staff, parents, and students.

Randall Booker, Superintendent

Ratification of the appointment was at the School Board Meeting of September 12, 2018