Oct 2 2018

Piedmont Senior Facilities, Taxes, Witter Field Rebuild Disruption, STEAM Building Plans

September 26th School Board Meeting

On September 26th, 2018, I attended the Piedmont Unified School District’s Board of Education meeting. The meeting started with the discussion of the school’s decision to hire substitute teachers to teach the online physics and Spanish classes. A representative for the teachers voiced concern with this, and argued that those jobs belong to real teachers.

I agree with his argument, although this is a very difficult situation for the school, I believe they should be doing more to make teaching at Piedmont High School more realistic.

The second topic was the Giving Campaign. One of the organizers of the campaign announced that the Giving Campaign had just begun, and was off to a great start. She also mentioned that the campaign helps teachers afford bay area living, and their donations will help the hiring situation for new teachers.

Next, Max Roitblat, ASB president, gave a rundown of everything that had been going on events at the high school since the last meeting and the safe driving and consent assembly coming up, the new online courses, progress reports, the senior picnic, and homecoming week.

After this, a Piedmont resident talked about the quality of asphalt around Piedmont recreational areas and issues concerning senior citizens. He argued that Piedmont could be doing more to improve senior recreation facilities, especially compared to some other districts near us, and  seniors should be given income based senior exemption of school taxes, given the abnormally high taxes in Piedmont.

Following this, two senior girls brought up an issue concerning school bathrooms, claiming the girls bathroom has a lot of defects and needs work.

Next, Pierce Mcdonald-Powell, a Piedmont City Planner, talked about wireless electronics in the school system. She gave an update on the wireless communication facilities, and answered questions from the Board.

Pete Palmer, the School construction manager, gave an update on the new STEAM building, the new Alan Harvey Theater, and the new field. He included a timeline and goals for the project, closures of the current Alan Harvey Theater, and Witter Field, and updated designs of the Alan Harvey Theater and STEAM building.

I decided to voice my concern about the rebuilding of Witter Field. I asked how students, especially underclassmen, will be able to manage rides to the temporary practice field at Laney College, and where the home games will be played.

I also argued that deciding to redo the field over the course of just one sport is unfair to that sport, and it would be much more fair to rebuild the field during half of two different sports.  I stated this would hurt the team because we would not have home field advantage, unlike other teams.

This experience was fairly disappointing. Although the topic we debated is still being planned, I felt that the Board could not answer most of my questions. Also, I felt that they ignored my arguments.

Similarly to the treatment of the teacher representative, they thanked me for my opinion and moved on, without addressing any of my concerns. After the meeting was over, I interviewed Megan Pillsbury about her experience. When I asked why she attended, she said she running for a seat on the School Board, and had been attending the past few meetings in order to learn more about the School Board.

by Sachiel Newbrun, Piedmont High School Senior

One Response to “Piedmont Senior Facilities, Taxes, Witter Field Rebuild Disruption, STEAM Building Plans”

  1. CORRECTION I am the “Piedmont resident” referenced as addressing the School Board. I thanked the School Board, Sup. Booker and Facilities Manager Pete Palmer for the ongoing use of the Middle School Badminton Courts for Pickleball use on the weekends. I expressed hope that this would continue and joked about the deteriorated condition of the asphalt and how proficient we would be playing on properly surfaced courts. I made no comment that the School District should provide senior facilities.

    I then noted Pickleball is a game predominately enjoyed by Seniors and suggested an income based senior exemption is both legal and needed in Piedmont. An age only senior exemption would likely not work because Piedmont’s School tax is double to 100x other school taxes and the burden would be overly shifted to those still paying the Piedmont tax.

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