Sep 22 2014

High School Theater Back on School Board Agenda

On Tuesday, September 23, 2014, around 8 p.m. in the City Council Chambers, 120 Vista Avenue, the Piedmont Unified School District School Board will review potential improvements for Piedmont High School’s Alan Harvey Theater.  The staff report states there will be:

“ Progress report on improvements supported by donor pledges
Staff will review the recommendations from the Steering Committee as to the priority projects in progress to maintain use of AHT.

 First of many opportunities for community input as to next steps
Community will have an opportunity (one of many) to provide feedback to the Board as to next steps. No Prop 39 bond measure may be brought for consideration in odd-numbered years. Therefore, 2016 is the first year a bond could be considered.”

Read the staff report pages 15 and 16.


Some questions arose when voters recently* defeated the $13 to $15 million parcel tax measure for bonds to upgrade the Alan Harvey Theater:

1.  What is the total amount of existing Piedmont school bond obligations?

2.  Frequently, the School District mentions a State limitation on the amount school districts can borrow.  What is this limit for Piedmont and does it change annually as property values appreciate?

3.  Is the State limitation on Piedmont School District borrowing impacted by existing non-school (City, County, special districts) bond obligations?

4.  Why does an auditorium renovation cost $15 million when we were able to build an entire school (Havens) for $24 million?

5.  What will the total long and short term cost of borrowing $15 million dollars be?

6.  Some of the finest theaters in Europe use wooden seating for sound enhancement.  Since the current seating is in disrepair, has wooden seating been considered?  What other alternatives were considered?

7.  Were more modest alternatives thoroughly considered prior to the School Board decision to accept the proposed $13 – $15 million renovation plan?

8.   External community groups have expressed interest in use of the theater after it is renovated.  The School District will be faced with similar maintenance issues as with playfields and other school facilities.  Since the District, by State law, cannot charge users to maintain the facilities, what funding source will the District use to maintain the enhanced and larger theater plus new classrooms?

9.   Shouldn’t the seating capacity be increased rather than decreased?

10. Might there be an opportunity for the School District to obtain outside funding for the proposals?

11.  When designing the proposal, was thought given to increased community participation by architects, performers, and interested residents ?

12.  How could accessibility issues be addressed in a more cost-effective manner?


The School Board meeting is open to the public.  It will be broadcast on Channel 27 and live streamed from the Piedmont website.  Recordings and minutes will be available following the meeting.

* In June 2014 Measure H was defeated with 1683 (52.40%) voting “No” and 1529 (47.60%) voting “Yes”.

One Response to “High School Theater Back on School Board Agenda”

  1. Why Measure H failed goes beyond the many troubling issues concerning the Theater rebuild that turned voters off. Since 1985 every Piedmont School Parcel Tax and Bond Measure has passed yet Measure H convincingly failed. (source: Ed-Data) The School Board might wish to listen to their own Political Operative, Larry Tramutola, who states: “There’s concern that in some communities there is growing tax fatigue. West Contra Costa USD and Piedmont USD, communities that have historically passed numerous bonds and parcel taxes, both failed to garner 50% support for their bond measures.” Mr. Tramutola highlights Piedmont’s school tax: “Measure A is the highest parcel tax in the state and is the 6th school tax election in Piedmont that Tramutola Advisors has managed. All 6 measures passed with overwhelming majorities.” (source:

    “Tax fatigue” is inevitable when the highest parcel tax in the state is coupled with a high bond burden. Further worsening the problem for the financially most vulnerable is the lack of a school tax senior exemption and a sharply regressive tax structure that unduly burdens fixed income seniors.

Leave a Comment