Apr 29 2015

Schools: Parcel Tax, Parking for Students, Weight Training Class

– Two Piedmont High School Students, Robbie Diaz and Apryl Hsu, comment on the April 22nd PUSD Board of Education Meeting. –

Robbie Diaz reports:

The Piedmont Unified School District Board of Education discussed several key topics on the night of April 22. The government body, which meets on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month, only met once in April, no doubt due to the spring break observed by the school district.

The meeting started with an overview of Piedmont High School events by Student Representative Claire O’Connor. O’Connor mentioned past and upcoming events like spring break, the bird calling contest, prom, day on the green. and ASB election week. Most of these events were only mentioned by name, with most of the time spent covering the standings of the various sports teams.

After that, the Board gave time for anyone to bring up business not on the agenda. A long-term resident, Arthur Weil, started with an overview of his family’s history, telling the Board about his kids and grandkids who live in Piedmont. His issue that he brought to the Board was that he was supposed to be a speaker of some sort for the schools, but failed to have proper communication with the High School administration, preventing him from speaking. While the Board made no comment, High School Principal Brent Daniels briefly addressed the issue when he came up to speak later in the meeting, saying he would try to improve communication between the administration and guest speakers.

The rest of the speakers were High School senior students bringing forward ideas. Luke Smith suggested a master schedule for the high school, allowing teachers to coordinate large assignments and projects to be spread out. Sophia Mills advocated conservation in water usage, such as no longer watering the lawns and plants on campus. Assistant Superintendent for Business Services Michael Brady responded that since Governor Jerry Brown’s official announcement of California’s drought status, the city has been cutting back water usage across the board.

Apryl Hsu suggested making a system for student parking, as the city has recently taken away spots by turning them from parking zones to loading zones. Hsu’s primary argument would be that specified student parking would free up the residential streets around the campus that are bumper to bumper with student cars.

Finally, Abby Hansen suggested adding more trash, compost, and recycling bins on campus in order to address the large amount of trash left by students. Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services Randall Booker said that he would meet with the custodial staff to find locations for new bins, reassuring the Board that the bins are cheap enough to leave no impact on the budget.

Board President Andrea Swenson announced the upcoming Parent Information Night for parents of kindergarteners, jokingly reminding parents to leave their kids at home. Also, Sunday, April 26, the Fire Department will hold an open house, displaying their new fire engine, as well as focus on fire prevention strategies during drought periods.

Mary Ireland, President of the Ed Foundation, addressed the Piedmont Educational Foundation available endowment funds. The Board approved a grant of $275,000 for the schools, to be used for supporting the k-12 program, 7 period class days, and a focus on computer science curriculums.

Brent Daniels, Piedmont High School Principal, read the course outline for the new course Weight Training and Fitness. The course will promote an interest in lifelong fitness, teaching students about the dos and don’ts of proper body care, as well as building skills in both weight training and free weights. Scheduling wise, the new course will replace one semester of the upper division PE. I spoke on the issue, supporting the class, as I took the upper division PE course and found the time in that class spent on body fitness to be the most rewarding. A course focusing on personal health, especially in a town dominated by rigorous scholastic pursuits. which is sedentary by nature, is no doubt invaluable to the community. The Board seemed to enjoy positive student feedback, and appreciated my comments.

The biggest and most debated issue on the agenda was the decision to levy an additional 2% on the Measure A Tax, created to support the schools. Tam Hege and Guatem Hatuwati presented the board with packets thoroughly covering the speculated yield the levy would create, along with suggesting saving 4% of the total tax revenue in the District reserve. Ed: 2%, comment below

Opposing not only the levy, but Measure A all together, was Mr. Bill Blackwell who, judging by his exchanges with the board, had been to numerous meetings to bring up the idea of a replacement tax for Measure A. While he referenced a new tax policy being adopted by Alameda County, the Board refused to acknowledge alternate tax plans, as they had been advised by legal professionals not to alter Measure A.

Blackwell would not back down, arguing that the tax was unfair to citizens of Piedmont who didn’t have children or grandchildren in the school system. Eventually, the Board had to stand firmly on the grounds that advocating for a new tax measure, in light of the significant fighting that went on for Measure A in the first place, would not be worth anyone’s time nor energy.

The Board then looked at an RFP for the high school campus. The RFP was approved on Board goal 6, “to invest and preserve school facilities”. The proposal looks to develop long term safety and accessibility around campus. The only concern, raised by Board member Doug Ireland, was how construction would affect the already chaotic morning drop-off, but the Board was confident that they could work with the city to find a solution down the line.

Finally, Superintendent Hubbard recommended the certification of the Declaration of Need for Fully Qualified Educators. The Declaration allows the district to employ a teacher that is training for a given subject, if no other suitable candidates can be found. I spoke on this issue as well, for clarification, before the Board motioned for its approval.

After the meeting was over, I met with Assistant Superintendent for Educational Services Randall Booker for a quick interview. Booker deals with issues surrounding curriculum instruction, like the weight training class from earlier in the meeting. In the future, Booker faces not only addressing a new teacher evaluation system, but also taking Hubbard’s place as Superintendent of the District.


Report on the School Board Meeting- April 22nd, 2015 by Apryl Hsu

The Piedmont Unified School District Board of Education is comprised of nine members. At every meeting the Board President, Vice President, three Board members, Superintendent, Assistant Superintendents, and Student Representative are present. The Board members discuss issues concerning the various schools in Piedmont. The Board meets the second and fourth Wednesdays at 7 p.m  at the City Hall Council Chambers.

The meeting held on April 22, 2015 had two major topics; one, was the introduction of a new weight training and fitness class, the other was a proposed levy of the current school support tax, known as Measure A. During the meeting, every Board member spoke multiple times, whether it be to ask a question or speak in favor of a particular issue. Aside from the many high school students at the meeting, there were also concerned citizens. Many of the high school students spoke in the beginning of the meeting to address their concerns about the school.

Three citizens spoke to the Board about [a proposed 2% increase in the parcel tax] Measure A. Two were in favor of the 2% increase, while Mr. Bill Blackwell, spoke against the increase and the Measure.

Measure A funds many of the schools programs and is essential in maintaining the quality of the Piedmont School District. The measure provides 9.5 million dollars for the schools and this is possible because Measure A created a uniform tax per parcel. Everyone from the community contributes the same amount of money to the school which is beneficial to the students and the teachers. Mr. Blackwell was a citizen that spoke against Measure A.

As a student at Piedmont High School, I support Measure A and believe that it should be put into full swing. It allows the high school to keep its teachers and continue funding into the music program, and many other classes special to Piedmont High School.

Mr. Daniels, Principal of Piedmont High School, was present at the School Board meeting to propose a new class for the high school. “In order for a class to become valid, the Board has to approve it” says Daniels. “It’s all part of the process”.  At the meeting, Mr. Daniels hoped to receive feedback from the Board and hopefully the proposal will go through to a second reading.

At the beginning of the meeting when members of the public could speak, I brought up the subject of parking at the high school. Due to the small amount of spots available and many student drivers, it is very hard to find parking for the school day. I suggested to the School Board that they should issue parking passes making mornings a lot easier for many students. I mentioned my personal experiences with parking in the morning and Mr. Booker took notes agreeing with my suggestion to issue parking passes. The School Board meeting adjourned two hours later, making it a short meeting.

Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the authors.

2 Responses to “Schools: Parcel Tax, Parking for Students, Weight Training Class”

  1. On the report given at the April 22nd school board meeting, the percent to be placed in the reserve is the additional 2% levied this year, NOT 4% as reported.

    Tamra C. Hege

  2. Regarding “Schools: Parcel Tax, etc.” by Robbie Diaz and Apryl Hsu, April 29

    I would like to make two corrections to this otherwise thorough report. My proposal to replace the existing school tax with a more equitable model had nothing at all to do with citizens who didn’t have children or grandchildren in the schools. And, I had only once before brought up this plan, and that was 7 months ago.

    Bill Blackwell

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