Apr 19 2018

PUSD Building Inclusion, Green Energy Agreement, Modifying Adult School Curriculum

School Board Continues Efforts Towards Inclusion and Empathy

At the School Board Meeting on March 28th, Board members discussed continuing efforts towards inclusion and appreciating diversity, among smaller topic. As a member of the audience I was struck by how deeply the board cared about all members of the community. The PUSD School Board meets twice a month, functioning as a communicator between the community and the schools for the interest of Piedmont Unified School District. This was one of the shorter meetings, because the board had few topics to cover. During the first part of the meeting, representatives shared out on various events taking place in the schools.

The meeting opened with a representative from Piedmont Education Foundation telling the board about the upcoming Spring Fling fundraising event, which is in May. The event is hoping to raise more than $40,000 for the schools. This money is an important part of the PUSD Budget.

Student representative Anna Goldberg, a Senior at the high school, discussed student perspective of the past few weeks. She highlighted the drama of the senior class receiving college decisions and the uplifting event “Let’s talk Too,” which included an acting presentation and discussion forums. Next the meeting opened up to the informal speaking section.

Nathan Horst and Anders Bjork spoke about the rising popularity of Piedmont Mountain Biking team. The team is a group of 10 High Schoolers who ride and race for the NorCal High School Cycling League. The sport is co-ed and, according to Bjork, exceptionally inclusive and healthy. Horst postulated the questions of school PE credit, recognition by the Board, and receiving legitimacy such that other sports cannot oppose the growth of the group.

Eva Hunter, another senior, urged the board to try to find a female sports director to fill the spot left by Vic Acuna. The current lack of a sports director has been an issue for many students, and the board is trying to fill the vacancy. I agree with Hunter that Piedmont has a high capacity of extremely talented female athletes, making it a good idea to hire a female sports director. This level of support would boost up the athletics.

Next, Cheryl Wozniak and Irma Muñoz discussed “Let’s Talk Too,” the assembly which was held on Tuesday, March 27. The pair was enthusiastic about this event, which aimed to tackle issues of diversity through both a panel of relevant stories and discussion forums. With student perspectives from high schoolers Noah and Casey, actors in the story-sharing part of the event, it was clear that this attempt to educate students went well. In particular the students emphasized the success of including all of the relevant stories, which were acquired through a survey of students asking about stories. Another student, Laura, celebrated the success of the discussion portion of the day, which enabled students to talk about the issues at question, even when uncomfortable. In particular, the division into 30 person discussion forums helped people engage in meaningful conversation.

Before the meeting, I had spoken with Irma Muñoz, one of two Piedmont High School Vice Principals, about her role at the meeting. She told me that she was planning to brief the Board about the progress towards inclusion and appreciating diversity through “Let’s Talk Too.” As the administrator with the most involvement in this event, she was excited to share the positive reception by students and discuss future possibilities. She simply wanted to inform the Board of the event and its success from the perspective of administration.

Shannon, the Millennium High School Principal, agreed with the previous presenters; Let’s Talk Too was a major success and good step towards the future. She also emphasized the importance of empathy in education.

Board member Sarah Pearson shared her enjoyment and admiration of the assembly, which she observed to be “incredibly effective.” As an audience member at this event, I shared in Pearson’s optimism. Let’s talk Too really enabled meaningful discussion because it was honest, straightforward, and expected much from students. It seems that most of the students fully engaged in the discussion and got a lot from it.

Board member Cory Smegal reinforced the idea that such assemblies and events provide the tools to further discuss issues, and echoed Muñoz’s earlier idea that Tuesday’s success was built on three previous events over the past few semesters. According to Smegal, results will ripple through the community, helping to build more inclusion and acceptance.

The next speaker took the meeting to a different topic; he spoke about a modification to the Piedmont Adult School curriculum. Piedmont adult school wanted to make modification for graduation standards so that when students have fewer than 10 credits remaining to graduate and a serious event prevents them earning the last credits, the student can still graduate. This 10 credit flexibility still keeps the graduate above state requirements. The Board voted to support the modification.

Superintendent Randall Booker spoke about allowing CLAD to approve non-certified educators when qualified. The Board voted to allow certain well-qualified educators this opportunity. Next Booker brought the idea of the green energy agreement to the table. PUSD schools currently purchase their electricity from PG&E, but this act would change the provider to a group of clean-energy producers. The Board approved of this motion for coming years, delighted by the sustainability and cheaper prices.

Overall, it was an optimistic meeting, where the Board heard about the progress made towards inclusion, opportunities in clean energy, enabling greater access to high school graduation through the adult school, and athletic possibilities.

This meeting made me feel that the students at Piedmont schools are in good hands of the School Board, and owe much to this group’s diligent work on their behalf.

by Anders Bjork, Piedmont High School Senior

Editors Note:  Opinions expressed are those of the author.

Leave a Comment