Jan 12 2015

Student Report: School Board Meeting of December 10, 2014

– Rain issues, food drive, lap tops, and censorship –

Piedmont High School student Alexandra Darwish reported on the Piedmont Unified School District Board of Directors meeting of December 10, 2014.

The Piedmont Unified School District Board of Education met on December 10, 2014 in order to discuss scholastic affairs. This particular meeting focused on budgets and financial reports for school affairs and approval of certain agreements. This School Board meets twice a month, on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month.

The beginning of the meeting addressed minor affairs, including some public comments, a review of upcoming events at the school by Claire O’Connor, the Youth Representative, and an emphasis on a school book drive.

Once these were discussed, representatives of the group that was searching for a new superintendent spoke to the board and explained their process. Some questions were asked regarding the  interviews of the candidates and the board concluded that the methods were satisfactory.

Brent Daniels spoke about current administrative decisions at Piedmont High School and a Millenium High School representative did the same. The goals for each of the schools were discussed at length and compared to last year’s goals. The theme of technology was introduced and prompted several questions by student attendees. The last portion of the meeting was filled by the discussion of Interim Reports and their certification.

When discussing the process for finding a new superintendent, Doug Ireland asked many questions. In particular, Ireland asked about confidentiality for the candidates and disapproved slightly of the process. After clarification, however, the process was deemed fit. Most of the contracts and reports that were addressed were unanimously agreed upon by the School Board.

Additionally, when Mr. Daniels spoke of the decision to give laptops to a select number of students, Elizabeth Sweeney questioned why those students were privileged enough to receive laptops while sophomores and seniors were not. I agreed with Elizabeth in that it does not seem justified to only give certain grades the access to their own personal computer. Mr. Daniels acknowledged this concern and gave a satisfactory response, which made their decision seem more reasonable.

I filled out a speaker card and was prepared to discuss the rain advisory, however, the School Board immediately addressed the situation. I intended to discuss their decision to leave schools open while many other schools within our vicinity had closed their doors for that day while also addressing the negative consequences of cancelling classes for a day. I wanted to bring to their attention the students who don’t live close enough to walk or drive on safe streets, including those who don’t live in the district and some who live in San Francisco or across other freeways. I also wanted to bring up the teachers’ safety because many of the staff members at Piedmont High School live at least thirty minutes away. I was willing to suggest a compromise that would enable students who didn’t feel comfortable or safe on their travels to school to be permitted to stay home without consequences on their attendance. Unfortunately, the School Board did not want to discuss this further and put the issue to rest before I could make a comment about the subject.

Interview with Claire O’Connor – Youth Representative to the Board of Education

  1. Why are you here? What difficulties and problems brought you here?

“Constitutionally, the ASB vice president’s mandatory duty is to be the youth representative on the school board, according to their list of duties. Since I am the vice president, I am required to be here. My responsibilities are to inform the board and audience about occurrences at Piedmont High School. Although there were no particular problems that brought me there, the disappointing outcome of the school wide food drive has prompted me to discuss actions, advertising techniques and parental involvement to encourage food donations. I wanted to bring up the rain issue and the school’s decision to keep school open but the school board told me there were too many political implications in this issue so I wasn’t allowed to. I always have to give advanced notice because of the formality of the event and for censorship reasons.”

    2. What next step will you take to get their particular concern addressed?

“I plan to keep bringing attention to the food drive. ASB and the school will hopefully send out emails to encourage outside donations. We will get the administration involved and I think we will get the food drive back up to par.”

Alexandra Darwish

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


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