Jan 24 2015

EDITORIAL: What Do Piedmonters Want from Their Schools?

With Superintendent search surveys and forums a plenty, the question remains – What do Piedmonters expect and want from their schools?

Taxpayers, parents, and empty nesters have trusted that Piedmont schools are doing the best they can with significant homeowners taxes in addition to community donations.

Piedmont schools are excellent by most standards, but they can be even better in meeting ever changing educational needs.  Many readers, associates, community members, teachers, students, and parents may not make it to the scheduled forums or even fill out the still available > survey on the Superintendent search.

Various suggestions for future improvements and changes to the Piedmont Unified School District (PUSD) have arisen during the search process. Some of these are:

–  Increased transparency in policy decisions –

Rather than after the fact, parents, school employees, and the Piedmont community should be brought into decisions early on through open and free expression of ideas. Censorship of speakers, particularly teachers and students, is not appropriate at public PUSD meetings. (See Student report on the 12/10/14 PUSD meeting.)

 Broadcast of budget processes on the City’s cable station KCOM and Piedmont website 

The Piedmont School District’s pivotal “Budget Advisory Committee” meets without being recorded or broadcast and is largely away from public view.  To be informed on school budget issues, a person should not have to be physically present at a meeting.  Affordable recording and broadcast methods are available.

–  Focus on teaching rather than buildings –

In recent years, there has been a continuous stream of needed school building improvements.  Increased attention on teaching each student according to their needs should be the priority.   Technology should play a roll in teaching along with increasing students’ technological skills. When there are teacher performance problems, the District should be ready to assist teachers.

 Improved communication between school and home –

Numerous nearby and distant school districts have adopted internet communication systems that inform students and parents of assignments, test dates, behavior problems, overdue homework, and academic issues on a daily basis.  In Piedmont, teachers are not required to report their homework assignments on line. Individualized student information is not always available for students or parents. Conferences between teachers and parents are often elective rather than a standard.

  Schools comparisons made on an equal basis –

Some students leave Piedmont schools. What are they looking for in another school? Is Piedmont keeping up? Although Piedmont is a unified school district, comparisons should be made to other high schools, middle schools, and elementary schools on an individual basis.

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