Oct 20 2017

Giving Campaign Goal of $4.4 M, Cancellation of Sports Due to Smoke, Need for More Lab Materials, Better Correlating Textbooks, Naming Rights to New Facilities

Students find areas to improve District and praise community involvement and educators.

The Piedmont Unified School District Board of Education convened on the evening of October 11th in a bi-monthly meeting to discuss the evolution of the Middle School and High School math programs along with the substantiality of textbooks and lab materials for classes. The Board also received an update on the Measure H1 facilities bond program and heard Blake Boehm on possible refunding of Capital Appreciation Bonds. During each of these presentations, the Board was briefed on the schedule for each program and came to a resolution on the sufficiency of the District’s learning materials.

Beginning with announcements from those in attendance, the Board was informed of the Piedmont Education Foundation’s plan, through the recently kicked off Giving Campaign, to reach 4.4 million dollars. The campaign is well on its way and has already reached 2.2 million dollars.

Announcements continued with an update from Josh Miller, the Piedmont High School and Millennium ASB (Associated Students Board) representative.  This year is the first year PHS and Millennium ASB worked together to decorate, plan and execute homecoming for the two schools.

Furthermore, all practices were canceled due to the poor air quality resulting from the California Wildfires. Those in attendance were then notified of the Board Workshop in the District office on October 12th to evaluate the budget before the Board moved on with the rest of the meeting.

Dr. Cheryl​ ​Wozniak, Director of Curriculum and Instruction, then began her presentation, beginning by informing the Board of the timeline to evaluate the newly implemented Secondary Math Program. The timeline begins with an evaluation of the successes and challenges of the program before revising any policies or procedures and creating recommendations for the School Board to hear. In response to questions from student audience members, Wozniak then explained that while the new program teaches the same information as previous math programs, it teaches it in a much more compressed timeline.

Following her slide presentation on the integrated math program, Wozniak addressed the the sufficiency of schools’ instructional materials, a motion that the Board found true and resolved.

During an interview before the meeting began, Wozniak explained that the “common core math standards cover every math level, but materials end at integrated math courses,” and she later informed the Board that all materials were sufficient for each student and were up to date.

Wozniak, a regular attendee of School Board Meetings, explained that when she attends, “she gets to hear major presentations and initiatives,” encouraging me and my peers to discuss our own experiences with the math program at Piedmont High School.

Taking Dr. Wozniak’s advice, I addressed the board, first expanding on conversations over the lack of use of Calculus textbooks, explaining that despite similar trends of past years, I had used the textbook more than ever before in AP Calculus BC.

I then brought up an issue I had seen in many science classes, but most recently in Ap Environmental Sciences. Many STEM classes do not have enough lab materials to find accurate results or any results at all, prohibiting students from getting a complete and well rounded education Although this experience was nerve wracking, with the encouragement of Dr. Wozniak and the importance of the matter at hand, I felt it was an extremely rewarding to speak out.

As the clock neared nine p.m., Michael​ ​Brady,​ ​Facilities​ ​Bond​ ​Program​ ​Coordinator for the H1 Facilities Bonds Program, stepped up to the podium to address the board. Brady explained that the program would begin in a four step process to select contractors for projects like the new theatre at Piedmont High School. Transitioning to discuss a new citizens oversight committee for the project, Brady brought up the issue of whether or not naming rights to portions of the new projects should be sold for donations.

While I think this is a very interesting take on donations, I do think it should be considered that many families donating large amounts of funds may prefer not to have their name displayed publicly or may wish to display someone else’s name. If this option is given to citizens, I believe this could be a brilliant and extremely creative way to encourage donations to the project.

The Board meeting was then concluded with a presentation on the extension of Bonds issued in 2006. This portion of the meeting extended past nine o’clock so I was unable to report on the conclusion of the Board. Overall, this meeting provided an excellent example of the day to day runnings of the Board of Education and showed how involved both private citizens and public figures are in the well being and progress of students in the Piedmont Unified School District.

by Charlotte Altieri, Piedmont High School Senior


A few other students and I attended a PUSD Regular Board of Education Meeting on October 11, 2017. The purpose of the meeting was to review the year in progress so far, institute necessary classroom changes, and to listen to information and opinions provided by Piedmont residents or staff at the meeting. The Board meets every second and fourth Wednesdays of every month and has repeating speakers along with new ones. The meetings are held at City Hall at 7:00 p.m.

Despite a small number in attendance, a lot was said during the course of the meeting. One of the directors of the Piedmont Education Foundation spoke about The Giving Campaign. She explained that their goal is to have a total of 4.4 million dollars donated, and people that can’t give the mean amount of money should at least contribute in some smaller way. They are already halfway to their goal, raising 2.2 million dollars so far. The main message put across was that all families should participate to some extent.

Another issue brought up by the Board of Education President, Sarah Pearson, was the Common Core math curriculum. Ben Barrett, a high school senior from the audience, spoke out on this topic explaining that both of his siblings are taking part in Common Core currently. He made it clear that the Common Core curriculum moves at a much higher pace than any math class that he took himself, but at the same time it has taught his siblings more than they would have learned taking the same courses as him. For me, it seems like a trade off where some students could really excel and grasp the material quickly, while their peers may only stay afloat with a tutor since the course moves so quickly.

Randall Booker, PUSD superintendent, brought up the topic of the NorCal fires and how they’re affecting the school district. Sports practices had been cancelled or moved indoors all week and there was talk about moving the Homecoming Dance indoors. Hanna Hohener, a high school senior and ASB president, spoke from the audience explaining that ASB will be holding a drive for donations the following week for fire victims. I definitely agree with ASB’s idea to do this as the fires have killed tens of people and have destroyed so many homes.

I got the chance to interview Dr. Cheryl Wozniak, Director of Curriculum and Instruction for Piedmont Unified School District. She attended the meeting to make sure that all materials that students use sufficient and up to date. In regards to why she attended this meeting in particular, she said they “believe it’s a good time to stop and assess how things are going.” She also was looking forward to receiving outside information on how the new Common Core math curriculum impacts students. A big thing Dr. Wozniak preaches is community involvement, and that she encourages everyone with relation to the School District to come and attend meetings to voice their opinions. Throughout the course of the night, guest speakers and board members shared ideas on how Piedmont Unified School District could become a better, smarter and more efficient community.

by Jacob Prager, Piedmont High School Senior

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

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