Feb 17 2015

Student Report: School Board Consideration of Superintendent Search, Bond Refunding, and Common Core

– High School student Maddie Boxer reports on the Piedmont School Board meeting of February 11, 2015 –

The Piedmont Unified School District’s Board of Education met in one of their monthly meetings on February 11th, 2015 in the Council Chambers discussing a survey put out on important skills and qualities for the new superintendent replacing Constance Hubbard. Later on in the agenda Blake Boehm, Director of KNN Public Finance, presented an organized presentation on refunding existing bonds issued in 2006, leading up to Randall Booker, Assistant Superintendent and expert in curriculum and assessments, portraying his ideas on why Common Core math would be beneficial to the District’s students.

Regarding the new superintendent, Andrea Swenson talked about the Leadership Profile Report, which was conducted in January, 2105, and is made up of interviews, surveys, as well as focus group meetings. The reports research was done by Hazard, Young, and Attea & Associates (HYA) Barbara Young and William Levinson. Overall the survey had an abnormally high number of 482 respondents showing that the community was involved and participating. Teachers and community members were the number one participants of this survey. A fellow Board member, Doug Ireland, also made sure the audience took note that there are many complex characteristics to this survey and that it will not be easy to balance academic excellence and a good student body, but it will happen. More research is still going to be collected, but the Board of Education and Swenson decided that the best quality of the new superintendent should be that they are a “collaborative leader, comfortable making difficult decisions based on ‘what’s best for kids.'” Online at the PUSD website, you can find highlights of this survey under Board of Education and then Superintendent Search.

Blake Boehm, the District’s public financial advisor, formally introduced to the Board facts about restructuring and refinancing, also known as “refunding”, General Obligation bonds. By  refunding these bonds, this could “relieve potential debt service to the District and save taxpayers as much as $4.3 million in present value savings through 2032”, said Boehm. The Board seemed very pleased with the information Boehm gave to the audience, so Boehm will continue to do research and make a presentation to the School Board again on Thursday, March 5th.

Gathering information from public meetings about economics, Dimitri Magganas, who is strongly affiliated with University of California, Berkeley, attends School Board and City Council meeting regularly. Magganas is part of a non-profit that mentors and guides the motivated youth to good programs in ranked universities such as Cal. One of the reasons Magganas comes to meetings so often is he is looking for “what is really missing” to try and find a way to get the Piedmont Unified School District and Cal connected so students at Piedmont have a top notch learning.

Math Task Force representative Katie Korotzer and Assistant Superintendent Randall Booker spoke out about a proposal for Common Core State Standards, which gives Middle and High School students mathematics pathways to high math classes like Calculus AB and Calculus BC.

The Math Task Force was formed to specifically help the Board make decisions on how to deal with the pursuit of Common Core and is composed of math teachers, parents, students, and administrators. One of the main ideas of Common Core was that instead of math teachers covering many topics in a long period of time without much depth, they teach in depth lessons making sure the student have more of an understanding. Common Core also leaves students with choice of when to compress in math to a tougher subject and is UC approved.

The Piedmont Unified School District will also provide summer school classes so students who want to jump up to another level can do so, and instead of it being a whole year in a summer, it is just one semester. Many people may find this beneficial because 5th grade will not be the determining math pathway a student takes. More information about all of these topics can be found on the Piedmont Unified School District website.

Maddie Boxer, Piedmont High School Student

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

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