Jan 10 2012

School Board Candidates Discuss Issue 5: District Employees’ Children in Piedmont Schools

PCA posed a series of  six questions to candidates for the Piedmont School Board in the upcoming election on February 7.  Following are their responses to Question #5.

Employee compensation:  Approximately 130 children of School District employees attend Piedmont Schools.  How is the privilege of enrolling employee children factored into the compensation packages of employees?


Response by School Board Candidate Andrea Swenson

There are guidelines in place that currently dictate when children of school district employees can attend Piedmont Schools. The employee must work at least 30% and be covered by a collective bargaining arrangement. It is common practice in California and well defined by California Education Code Section 48204, that children of school employees have the ability to attend school in the district where the parent works. Because the ability of children of school employees to attend Piedmont Schools is defined by state law, it is not considered a privilege of employment that ought to be factored into compensation packages. The quality of our schools creates a reciprocated educational benefit for children of residents and children of school district employees because we attract high caliber teachers seeking employment.

Response by  School Board Candidate Sunny Bostrom

What is a Piedmont Education worth?  I am a grateful graduate of Piedmont High School but to quantify the answer in financial terms it is helpful to realize that Piedmont Schools more closely resemble private schools.  I went to boarding schools before coming to Piedmont so I personally noticed certain similarities.  Current costs for (Head Royce $30,310) College Prep, Berkeley $32,580, Athenian $30,750.  One might conclude that the Piedmont Schools are the among the greatest educational institutions in America and, even with our financial struggles, a tremendous bargain.

Response by School Board Candidate Jon Elliott

At present, there is no consideration of the value of this benefit in the employee unions’ contracts, or anywhere else in public discussions of District policies.  Obviously, it’s harder to attach a dollar value to the benefit than it is for medical or pension benefits, but it’s clearly important for those employees whose children join their parents in our school community.  Frankly, I suspect it’s also beneficial to all Piedmont students, to the extent that it provides a broader student population. However, I think it must be evaluated within the broader public discussion of interdistrict transfers.  I’ve raised this issue repeatedly in recent three years as part of broader employee contract and student interdistrict transfer questions (see my answer to #4 above), seeking to start a public conversation.  I don’t start from a pre-set opinion on this, and would not suggest precipitous changes that would be hugely disruptive of the lives of these students and their families.  But it is important to get and evaluate good data on all employee benefits, and to look at this one in the broader context of the District’s response to the Romero Bill.

Response by School Board Candidate Sarah Pearson

Like most school districts, Piedmont does not consider the privilege of enrolling employee children as part of employee compensation. Collective bargaining requires that we apply a “uniform salary” schedule for all employees, whether they have children or not. That said, we should constantly reevaluate employee salaries to make sure they are in line with similar districts.

The benefit of allowing children of District employees to attend the schools is that it helps Piedmont attract and retain the best and most qualified teachers. Outstanding teachers are still in high demand, and have a choice of where to teach. Another significant benefit is that teachers become part of our community of parents. Teacher-parents are doubly invested in having Piedmont schools provide the highest quality education. 

Response by School Board Candidate Rick Raushenbush

PUSD attracts teachers and other educational staff through a package including salary, benefits, working conditions, and the ability to have their children attend school within the District.  Depending upon where they live, whether they have children, and the ages of any children, PUSD employees likely place differing value on the opportunity to have their children attend District schools.  Many top school districts, which compete with PUSD for talented teachers, offer a similar benefit.  Having educators’ children in District schools benefits all students as it provides educators with a personal, as well as professional, interest in our school system’s academic excellence and educational programs.

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