Jan 11 2015

Student Report: School Board Meeting of December 10, 2014

– Goals, laptops, teacher organization, and Superintendent recruitment –

Piedmont High School student, Elizabeth Sweeney, reports on the December 10 Piedmont School Board Meeting.

On December 10, 2014 Piedmont Unified School District’s (PUSD) Board of Education met in City Hall. The Board consists of five elected members. Generally, the Board meets second and fourth Wednesday of every month at 7:00 pm.

According to PUSD, their mission “is dedicated to developing independent learners who are responsible, competent, and intellectually curious with a strong sense of self and community. Through quality instruction and shared leadership, the District will impart knowledge and promote creative and critical thinking in a safe, nurturing, and challenging environment” (Piedmont Unified School District). The Board attempts to make decisions based on students’ interests. Additionally, the Board is in charge of approving the school budget and employing all personnel.

After Ms. Kashani, the representative of the Association of Piedmont Teachers, updated the Board regarding the elementary school’s new schedule, Claire O’Connor informed the Board of current PHS activities. O’Connor, the vice-president of ASB and Student Representative to the Board, stated that there will be a blood drive on December 18th and that the soccer and basketball seasons have begun. Additionally, O’Connor stated the high school is very behind in the food drive compared to last year. In a follow up interview with O’Connor, she said, “I have to prepare everything I say a couple days in advance so the Board can read over it to make sure I don’t say anything controversial. If I plan to say anything controversial, I have to give them enough time to formulate a response.”

Superintendent Constance Hubbard said that school the following day will still occur, despite the fact that several schools across the bay area closed due to the anticipated storm. A large part of the Superintendent’s job is to prepare the school for possible storms; the storm drains were cleared, and staff was on call. Unique to most school districts, Piedmont does not have students who use public transportation or freeways to get to school, so safely arriving to school was not an issue for most.

The largest topic discussed at the meeting regarded the search process for a new Superintendent. First, the Board ratified the contract with Hazard, Young and Attea & Associates. Bill Levinson and Barbara Young, representatives of the search company, outlined the long and extensive search process in a powerpoint presentation. They are confident and comfortable with their unique process. In their career, they have found 19 successful Superintendents that comply well with the community.

Brent Daniels, Ting Hsu Engelman and Ryan Fletcher spoke about the Secondary Single Plans for Student Achievement after it was approved. Each school, including Piedmont High School, Millennium High School and Piedmont Middle School, had various goals set forth to achieve the districts’ desires. Principle Daniels of Piedmont High School had four main themes he presented. First: teacher and student learning with the integration of technology. Second: social development which emphasized on service learning. Third: Integrated learning with the effective teen. Fourth: Safe learning environment.

Almost all speakers emphasized the importance of connecting the student with the technological world, hence the integration of the Chromebooks, but only two of the four high school classes were given computers.  With this in mind, I asked, “Because you say that technology is so important, why weren’t all grades given Chromebooks?” Randall Booker, the Assistant Superintendent said in an immediate response that this was a learning year to see if the integration of laptops were an effective use of money, considering that it is an expensive experiment. The School District plans to give computers to all grades soon.

Participating in this meeting gave me a deeper understanding on how Piedmont Unified School District is organized. I learned that each member plays a key role in order to implement the students’ needs and desires. I also learned the importance of speaking up in order to get what you and your community want. Without expressing your wants, no change will occur!

 Elizabeth Sweeney

Editors’ Note:  The opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Piedmont Civic Association. 

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