Sep 27 2011

School Board News – September 14, 2011

Highlights from the School Board Meeting

  • Mid-year budget cuts
  • Student test scores
  • Nov. 1  special meeting on inter-district transfers, grandchildren and others
  • New Director of Special Education Services Cece Lasky
  • Candidate filing for School Board opens October 17

and more . . . see the full report

Back-to-School Nights Well Attended and Fun! – Assistant Superintendent Randall Booker communicated the highlights of his visits to the elementary school and middle school Back-to-School Nights. He anticipates providing comparable rave reviews at our next meeting for the Millennium High School and Piedmont High School Back to School Nights. According to Assistant Superintendent Booker, “It was a pleasure to observe parents and teachers … and so much fun to see the different personalities of each of the school sites.” A common thread across the evenings was the hope and expectation of parents that “we are going to take care of the kids.” Board Vice President Rick Raushenbush agreed that the PMS Back to School Nightwas “tremendous fun.” He expressed appreciation to the teachers for being so accessible to the students and the parents.

Piedmont Students Continue to Show Growth in Student Achievement – Assistant Superintendent Booker reviewed with the Board student outcome data on the State’s Academic Performance Index (API), CA High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE), ACT, and SAT assessments. 98% and 97% respectively passed the English Language Arts and Math portions of the CAHSEE on the first try. According to Superintendent Hubbard, “This passage rate is extraordinary.” On the ACT college readiness exam, 5-year trend data was reviewed for Piedmont and also in comparison to comparable school districts. With a perfect score of 36, last year, Piedmont students’ average ACT Scores were 28.5 in Math and 28.9 in English. According to Assistant Superintendent Booker, when compared to other districts, “We’re right there (with the comparable school districts) or above.” He recognized and commended the students, staff, and K-12 program for these impressive results. Detailed information is available on:  California Department of Education’s website; District’s website on pp 35-42.

Special Education Plan – The Board reviewed and adopted the North Region Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) for 2011. The SELPA is responsible for coordinating the delivery of programs and services to special needs students in a particular region and operates with a total budget of approximately $18 million to $19 million. Approximately 2% or $350,000 is spent on administrative support of each school district including specialized training. Superintendent Hubbard explained that funds are distributed on a per capita basis and tied to total student enrollment. Piedmont is one of five school districts in the North Region area and receives approximately $1.1 million through the North Region SELPA. The other four districts include: Alameda Unified, Albany Unified, Berkeley Unified, and Emery Unified. The plan consists of the governance structure, regionalized services and program specialists, roles and responsibilities of the participating entities, income distribution model of state and federal funds, interagency agreements, public/parent input, and a dispute resolution process. SuperintendentConstance Hubbard recognized the new Director of Special Education Servicesfor the District, CeCe Lasky, who works with all the SELPA Directors in providing services. Superintendent Hubbard is the Chair of the North Region Policy Board and Sarah Abel is Piedmont’s parent representative to the Community Advisory Committee. She also recognized Director Suzanne Nelson who is responsible for implementing direction provided by the policy board, made up of the superintendents from each of the five districts. For details of the 2011 plan go to pp 1-18.

Budget Update – According to Assistant Superintendent for Business Services Michael Brady, “Mid-year cuts by the State are still a possibility, since State revenue targets incorporated into the budget may not be realized.” The District expects to learn whether mid-year cuts may occur by mid-December and by January what the magnitude of the cuts may be. Even if mid- year cuts are made by the State, PUSD has built a sufficient reserve to prepare for this possibility. The Board continued its annual discussion of budget priorities. As reserve levels fluctuate over the next three years, the staff asked for Board direction and public input as to what the priorities should be for the allocation of funds, as well as the timing on when to designate funds for certain priorities or purposes. Issues discussed included expectations on when the Board would be comfortable considering and deciding upon allocation options; the desired reserve level (the statutory minimum is 3%); assumptions to be made on the Measure B parcel tax increase; and whether to include an increasedcontribution level from the Associated Parent Clubs of Piedmont (APCP).

The Board heard input from staff, parents, community members, and APCP representatives as follows:

  • Teacher Librarians across the District advocated that the reinstatement of program be a priority, reversing cuts that had been made in order to help make the program whole;
  • APCP shared its current thinking and parent initiated efforts to move available uncommitted funds from Parents’ Club budgets to the District to support the K-12 mission and Board goals. Parent Club Presidents also explained that some funds would be kept at the site level to address school priorities and that parents want to know the menu of options being considered for how the funds will be used;
  • A community member urged the Board to keep parcel tax increases to a minimum and to exercise restraint during the budget process, acknowledging the concerns and understanding the requests being made by teachers and staff;
  • A teacher and member of the Evaluation Committee expressed support for bringing back staff development time to fund the efforts of the Evaluation Committee.

After a thorough discussion, the Board reached consensus on the following areas:

  • Wait until the First Interim Report in January to learn what the multi-year projections will be, and the potential magnitude of mid-year cuts, before considering any restoration of cuts;
  • Assume a zero percent increase for the Measure B parcel tax, and include the estimated financial impact of a 1% increase in the multi-year projections;
  • Assume the expiration of the emergency Measure E parcel tax;
  • Continue to assume no increase in the State COLA;
  • Include any ongoing increase to the per capita contribution from APCP to the District in the First Interim Report and multi-year projections;
  • Solicit input from stakeholder groups on priorities, and set realistic expectations with all stakeholders that the Board will not be able to satisfy all interests and the administration will recommend doing what makes most sense to benefit students;
  • As recommendations are being developed for any restoration of cuts, services, or programs, focus on one-time purposes over ongoing.

For background details, see pp 19-34.

February 7, 2012 Municipal Election – Superintendent Hubbard shared the election timeline for any community member interested in becoming a member of the Board of Education. She noted that Board Member June Monach will be termed out and that Board Member Martha Jones has decided not to run for re-election. Board Vice President Raushenbush’s announcement to the public that he will run for re-election for a second term was met with enthusiasm by the governance team. Monday, October 17, 2011 is the date when forms from the City Clerk’s Office will first become available.  Community members interested in running for office were invited to see the Piedmont LWV “Civic Involvement” panel discussion on September 8, 2011 to learn more about what the job entails. DVD copies of the event are available from KCOM at City Hall. A copy of the calendar is on pp 43 – 46.

Upcoming Meetings – Superintendent Hubbard and Board President Tolles informed the public of the following meetings:

  • Tues Sep 27 7 pm Regular School Board Meeting including a comprehensive update on the Seismic Safety Bond Program budgets and project status City Hall Council Chambers
  • Tues Nov 1 7-9 pm Special Board Meeting on Inter-district Transfer Policy:
    Review and consider ramifications of relaxing policy to allow grandchildren of grandparents who live in Piedmont to enroll in Piedmont schools; review potential impact of the Romero Bill and Open Enrollment Act City Hall Council Chambers
  • Thurs Nov 17 7-9 pm Piedmont LWV Panel Discussion on Civic Engagement
    where a panel of experts will review different formats to cultivate productive and civil public dialogue; evening to be moderated by political strategist Larry Tramutola City Hall Council Chambers

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