Nov 27 2018

Piedmont Board of Education Meeting on November 14th, 2018

I attended the Piedmont Unified School District Board of Education Meeting on Wednesday, November 14th. These meetings take place twice a month, usually at 7:00 P.M. at the Council Chambers in the City Hall. The purpose of this meeting was to discuss various topics and issues affecting the school district and community, and if relevant, vote upon various items noticed for that meeting. The public is allowed to attend the hearing, and are permitted to speak out for a limited period of time during the meeting on any relevant issue they see fit to raise. The School Board members are then required to listen to the public’s comments and can take them into consideration.

There was a pre-arranged agenda that was followed for the meeting which outlined the main topics and announcements of interest that were to be covered. There was also a regular agenda item concerning the Consent Calendar, set for the very end of the meeting. The Consent Calendar covered various non-disputed administrative items that required approval from the School Board, such as approving donations benefiting the school district from various organizations throughout Piedmont and ratification of various contracts. The Board unanimously approved the Consent Calendar.

The main issue on the agenda that was discussed at the meeting was the possibility of a School Resources Officer (SRO) being implemented for Piedmont schools. PUSD Superintendent Randall Booker talked about how he and the Chief of the Piedmont Police, Jeremy Bowers, have been considering a position for a SRO since last year after observing “recent events around the world”, especially regarding the safety of schools. It was mentioned that many other school districts around the Bay Area already have a SRO and that this position will help implement the “Safe School Plan.”

Chief Bowers was also in attendance and went up to the podium to further elaborate on what this position entails. He explained that a SRO is a police officer who becomes a part of the community/schools for a positive impact and would play the four main roles of a counselor, teacher, social worker, and law enforcement professional. As a counselor, this position would serve as a resource to support students/staff. As a teacher, this person would do things such as give classroom presentations or educate students on the duties of the police. As a social worker, they would be involved in helping resolve conflicts/issues involving the school community. Furthermore, Bowers said the ultimate goal of this position would be to strengthen the relations between police and students/families, along with improving the overall safety of our schools. However, Bowers added that implementing this position will all depend on funding from a grant that has been requested since the school does not currently have sufficient funds to make this happen.

Discussion regarding the issue of a SRO then followed when Board member Cory Smegal expressed concern over running out of funds from the grant that would be needed since the School District is on a very tight budget. She also added that although she felt this was a good idea, maybe just having the district increase counseling services would be a more cost-effective solution. Smegal also said she is nervous about the idea of the officer carrying a gun on campus and then proceeded to raise questions about whether teachers have the time in their agenda to have an officer educate in the classroom.

Another Board member, Amal Smith, raised concerns over this only being a short-term program and raised questions about what will happen afterwards since this program will only last for about three years.

A Piedmont resident named Richard Turner spoke up by suggesting that we should not have preconceived notions about this officer and that “hard, tangible metrics” must be put into place to evaluate if the goals of the SRO are being achieved. He also proposed the question of whether or not the funds from the grants needed are restricted solely for this program or if they could also be put to use elsewhere.

On the issue of what the extent of the SRO’s duty of a law enforcement official should be, Board member Doug Ireland stated that he felt it was appropriate that arrests may have to be made if students are caught with possession of drugs/alcohol on campus. He added that “you should always be careful what you wish for” and that extra precautions should be taken before introducing a SRO.

On the same debate of law enforcement duties, another member of the public stated that they wanted to see more consequences for students if they are caught performing illegal activities, and that the school has a history of taking a “blind-eye” on problems such as these in the past and are not doing everything in their power to stop this. Additionally, they said that a figure of authority serves as a powerful position and public schools are at a disadvantage to private schools because private schools have more funding for safety measures such as this.

In response to the guest speaker’s prior comment about how the School District is not doing enough to address concerns of illegal activities, staff member Cheryl Wozniak described how the school is in fact aware of these issues and spoke out about the anonymous reporting system for students that was put into place a few years ago. She explained that this system works by forwarding complaints to the administration and confirmed that it is being put to use by students/teachers in the District.

Then, Piedmont High School student Betty Hosler spoke out in front of the Board by expressing concerns that students may be overwhelmed by having an officer present on the campus and that many will view this as a negative development in that the school is out to get them in trouble instead of help them. She continued by saying that in order for this program to work well, the school must make their intentions very clear to their students since their ultimate motive can easily be misinterpreted.

In my opinion, the implementation of a SRO will be a benefit to us students and help create a safer environment on campus, especially when taking into consideration the real threat of physical violence, drug use, and vaping — all of which are major challenges that today’s schools face.

Although it is clear some students/families will be strongly opposed to this idea, especially given that the officer may be armed, I strongly feel that the advantages outweigh any real disadvantages. Threats of violence and substance abuse are difficult challenges for our schools, which also happen to be important law enforcement issues. Therefore, our police officers should be part of the solution because they are trained to respond appropriately under these situations.

The second main topic that was discussed concerned the Review Process of the Reorganization of the Board. The Board members brought up that Reorganization of the Board takes place every December Board meeting (December 12th this year) and that each elected official serves from when they are elected until the following December.

It was also noted that they fill officer positions on the Board through mutual agreement, but they cannot do so until Alameda County finishes counting all of the votes regarding the election of School Board members.

After the meeting concluded at 8:45 p.m., the first person I decided to interview was Megan Pillsbury. After I asked what brought her to the meeting, she told me that she came to observe the general process of how these meetings work due to recently being elected to the Board and will serve on it for the next term and wants to continue to attend every meeting she can. I then asked her if there was any issue in particular that was of great interest/concern to her and she told me it would be the proposed SRO position. She explained she still has many unanswered questions about having an officer with a gun around students.

The second person I interviewed was Sarah Pearson, who was there because she is the President of the Board. Likewise, she told me she is interested in learning more about the SRO, but is slightly hesitant about the budget issue and is always extra cautious when trying new things. Moreover, she found PHS student Betty Hosler’s comments about how students may perceive the officer insightful and has been reading up on as many studies as possible that deal with what types of interventions from schools have been most valuable to students. She also looks forward to reaching out to other schools and their students to hear about their opinions on their own officer in the future.

By Wilson Van Gundy, Piedmont High School Senior

Nov 27 2018

School Board Consideration of Safety Measures Wednesday, November 28, 2018, City Hall Council Chambers 7:15 p.m. 

The Alan Harvey will be closed beginning in March of 2019. Closing Alan Harvey Theater during the Spring of 2019, rather than waiting until the end of the school year, will help keep the STEAM project on schedule for completion before the 2020-21 school year. There may be questions about how starting work during the school year may affect students, staff, and campus flow.

While the District plans to demolish the theater over Spring break when there are no students or staff on campus, if the demolition cannot be completed during that week, the District will develop a schedule for the remaining demolition, to minimize the campus impact to the greatest extent possible.

Read agenda by clicking below:

https://agendaonline.net/public/Meeting.aspx?AgencyID=1241&MeetingID=68232&AgencyTypeID=1&IsArchived=False

7:15 PM
VI.A. H1 Update – Safety Measures During Alan Harvey Theater Demolition

Speaker:
Pete Palmer, H1 Construction Manager
Attachments:
Background H1 Update   < Click to read

 

Nov 21 2018

Thank you for being a PCA reader. Your input is invaluable.

Since the revitalization in 2011 of the 1986 Piedmont Civic Association and the transformation of the paper newsletter to a website, Piedmont civic news has been read by thousands of Piedmonters.  Yet even now, not all Piedmonters are aware of PCA News, so let your friends and neighbors know how they can easily, at no cost, keep up with Piedmont civic matters on www.piedmontcivic.org 

Opinions and articles offer Piedmonters an additional source of Piedmont civic news. 

Participation is encouraged through “OPINIONS, COMMENTS, ARTICLES, ANNOUNCEMENTS, LETTERS TO THE EDITOR, FORUMS FOR DISCUSSIONS, EXCHANGE OF IDEAS, and NEWS.”

Subscribing Piedmonters receive updates as news happens. 

The Piedmont Civic Association is not supported by advertisers and does not charge for subscription updates.  Subscriber information is considered completely private and never released.  

Happy Thanksgiving! 

PCA Editors

Nov 21 2018

The race narrowed to under 50 votes between School Board candidates Amal Smith and Julie Caskey.

As of this publication, none of the previously announced results changed; only the number of votes changed. 

Apparently, the many ballots sent by mail or placed in the community ballot boxes were not counted on election night, hence the reporting delays in Alameda County.

On November 17, 2018, the Alameda County Registrar of Voter posted the following results.  Candidates elected and measures approved are noted with an *.

Members of the Piedmont Unified School Board:

*Megan Pillsbury      3389      31.71 %

*Amal Smith               2833       26.51%

  Julie Caskey               2785      26.06%

  Hari Titan                    1669      15.62 %

 Write-in                             12        0.11%

Members, City Council – Piedmont 

* Betsy Smegal Andersen     4796     34.38%

* Teddy Gray King                   4377      31.38%

* Tim Rood                                 4255     30.50%

   Sunny Bostrom-fleming       451        3.23%

   Write-in                                        70        0.50%

Measure BB: Reduced requirements for contract bidding and Council meetings, increased years to prevent former council members seeking re-election from 4 to 8 years.

* Yes         3923        65.07%

    No          2106        34.93%

Measure CC: Requires top officers of the City to serve at the pleasure of the City Administrator rather than the City Council.

* Yes           3887       66.54%

   No             1955       33.46%

For any further, yet unlikely, updated results, click below:

https://www.acgov.org/rovresults/236/index.htm

Nov 16 2018

Correction Provided by Piedmont School Board Member

The Piedmont Post November 14 cover story on campaign finances reported that my campaign “self- funded roughly $6,500”. That is incorrect and would be a surprise to my campaign’s fundraising volunteers and to the dozens of campaign donors.

I did start my campaign with $2,200 from my 2014 campaign. During this 2018 campaign, my campaign raised $5,000, six donations of $100 or more and the remaining donations of $99 or less. One of those $99 donations was from my husband in support of the campaign. I did not self-fund.

Total spending on the campaign was just shy of $6,700. Because I did not need the funds, I declined the CTA donation. When I close the campaign account, the remaining funds will be donated to the Piedmont Education Foundation endowment fund.

Respectfully,

Amal Smith

Re-elected Piedmont School Board Member 

Nov 15 2018

Street paving, tennis courts, budget actions –  

November 19, 2018 – the Piedmont City Council staff reports are linked below.

11/19/18 – Approval of Agreements Related to the Repair of Cavendish Lane. 

“Cavendish Lane is a street which extends west from Park Boulevard and is located immediately south of Trestle Glen Road. It is approximately 1/10th of a mile in length, ending in a cul-de-sac. Cavendish Lane and its right-of-way are located within, owned, and maintained by the City of Oakland. The cul-de-sac is located at the extreme west end of the street and serves four homes located within the city of Piedmont. The only access to these four Piedmont homes is via Cavendish Lane.”

a. Reimbursement and Indemnification Agreement with the City of Oakland

b. Agreement with Coastland Civil Engineers for Project Specific Engineering

11/19/18 – Consideration of the Rejection of All Proposals for the Corporation Yard Solar Photovoltaic System Project 

11/19/18 – Consideration of FY 2017-18 Year-End Appropriations and Carryforwards      Street paving

 11/19/18 – Consideration of FY 2017-18 Year End Fund Transfers 

“In FY 2017-18, conservative budgeting combined with favorable revenue trends resulted in net income of approximately $3.5 million in the General Fund. Specific revenue categories that exceeded budget and accounted for the majority of net revenue include real property transfer tax (+ $1,045 K); secured property tax (+ $484 K); supplemental property tax (+294 K); mutual aid revenue for wildfire assistance (+$480 K); and recreation revenue (+ $232 K).”

11/19/18 – Consideration of the Issuance of Bid Documents for the Recreation Center Tennis Court Resurfacing Project and Direction to Staff Regarding Fundraising 

The November 19, 2018 Agenda can be read HERE.

Nov 15 2018

All PUSD Schools will be closed on Friday, November 16th due to poor air quality conditions.

.

All Athletic Programs and extra-curricular activities are cancelled for Friday, Nov. 16th and over the weekend.

.
Updates will be provided prior to our scheduled return to classes on November, 26th.
.
I hope everyone stays safe and has a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday.
.
Sincerely,
 Randall Booker, Superintendent of Piedmont Unified School District
Nov 13 2018

Police  Will Present Tips to Prevent Financial Exploitation of Seniors

With the holiday season upon us the Piedmont Police Department will partner with the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office for an interactive program focused on seniors staying safe during the holidays whether shopping, being approached for donations or from other type of fraud common during this time of year.  Attendees will also learn about general financial exploitation, how to safeguard oneself and seek assistance. 

All are welcome to attend as this information will be useful to share with elder family and friends.

Jeremy Bowers, Piedmont Police Chief

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

Piedmont Community Hall, 711 Highland Avenue

RSVP to April Scott 510/420-3010 or ascott@piedmont.ca.gov

 

Nov 12 2018

During the winter holiday period in recent years, packages delivered to front porches have disappeared.

Over the summer, packages were stolen from porches in the 800 block of Blair Avenue, the 1500 block of Grand Avenue and the 100 block of Sunnyside Avenue, where packages were taken from the front porch of several homes. Vehicles associated with these thefts were a newer blue/grey 4 door hybrid SUV and a white moped/scooter with a black seat.  If you have any information regarding these thefts, contact Piedmont Police Department Detective R. Coffey at 510-420-3015.

Police tips for safe package delivery:

 1-Don’t leave packages out for extended periods of time. Reach out to your neighbors and ask them to bring packages inside.

2-Use an alternate shipping address like work or a friend/relative that you know will be home to receive packages.

3-Choose shipping options that provide for advanced package tracking, allow you to redirect a package, receive detailed updates on estimated delivery time, and send an email or text once your package has been delivered.

4-Install a security camera. Security cameras can deter burglars, keep your packages safer, and help you keep an eye on your home while you’re away. Products like Nest Cam Outdoor and the Ring doorbell are inexpensive ways to increase security.

Strange Car in Your Driveway? ——–

Caution:  If this happens to you, do not engage.  You are advised to call the police.

On Wednesday, November 7 a Piedmonter returned home to find an older model sedan parked at the top of his driveway, blocking access to his garage.  There were two occupants in the car.  After several minutes of waiting to see if the car would back out of his driveway, the homeowner gave a light toot on the horn. There was no reaction to his horn. The strange car did not move.

A few minutes later a female passenger got out of the intruding car and informed the homeowner they had car trouble and were trying to figure it out.   She then explained that they had just delivered a bin in the neighborhood.

Five minutes later the car backed out of the homeowners’ driveway and drove off with no evidence of car trouble.

When encountering suspicious situations such as described above, residents are advised to promptly call:

Piedmont Police Department at 911

or 510/420-3000. 

Nov 12 2018

Potential agreement between the City Council and the School Board –

An introductory discussion of adding a police resource officer into the Piedmont Unified School District will be considered on Wednesday, November 14, 2018 during the 7:oo p.m. Board of Education meeting held in City Hall.  The meeting will be broadcast live on Cable Channel 27 and via the City website.

To view the report go to item VII and click on the Superintendent’s report > https://agendaonline.net/public/Meeting.aspx?AgencyID=1241&MeetingID=67947&AgencyTypeID=1&IsArchived=False