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The following letters and other commentary express only the personal opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Piedmont Civic Association.

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Nov 7 2019

I am so thrilled to report that the Piedmont Community passed both Measures G and H.

Your continued commitment to a robust public education is incredible! I want to thank the countless parent, staff, and student volunteers for all of their support and civic engagement over the past few months. It was encouraging to be a part of a community-wide conversation about our schools and how we support teaching and learning.

I fully recognize and am grateful for the commitment that families have made in our school system. I will continue to work closely with the Board of Education, teachers, staff, families, and students to ensure that Piedmont’s schools not only continue to provide excellence in education, but that we also continue to grow and improve in how we educate students.

Please join me in also thanking and acknowledging the election staff from the City of Piedmont. Their efforts ensured a smooth election day!

On behalf of all of the teachers, support staff, and administrators, thank you for your support and engagement with our incredible district.

Sincerely,

Randall Booker, Superintendent of Piedmont Unified School District

Nov 2 2019

The League Offers Arguments in Support of Ballot Measures G and H.

The League of Women Voters Piedmont has prepared a Pros and Cons for Piedmont voters regarding Measures G and H here.  After engaging in a discussion regarding Measures G and H, the Board voted to support these measures which align with the League’s policy to support a high level of education in the Piedmont Schools.

Measure G would continue financial support for District programs for students in Piedmont schools. The measure, with a new eight (8) year term, intends to provide the District and its taxpayers both stability and predictability in base parcel tax support. The proposed parcel tax will replace the local funding approved by the voters of the District on March 5, 2013, as Measure A, which will otherwise expire as of July 1, 2021. This Measure will provide continuing local revenue that cannot be taken by the State and will fund programs in math, science, technology, engineering, English, music, and arts, keep textbooks and instructional technology up to date, maintain smaller class sizes, and attract and retain qualified teachers (“Measure G Programs”).

Measure H would authorize the District to impose a special parcel tax with a rate of $0.25 per square foot of building improvements per year, to be levied against each taxable parcel of land located wholly or partially within the boundaries of the District. The Special Tax would have a term of eight (8) years, commencing on July 1, 2020, and ending on June 30, 2028, to be collected by the Alameda County Tax Collector, as applicable based on parcel location, at the same time, in the same manner, and subject to the same penalties as general property taxes collected by said tax collector.

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the Piedmont League of Women Voters Board of Directors. Publicly noted Board members are President Nancy Beninati, Piedmont Resident, Vice President Lorrel Plimier, Oakland Resident, and Membership Chair Linda McClain, Oakland Resident.

PCA does not support or oppose ballot measures.

Oct 28 2019

Dear Editor,

I’m writing to express my strong support for Measures G&H. As a realtor and a grandmother of children attending the Piedmont schools, I understand the importance of our Piedmont schools on many levels.

Every day, I work with families who want to buy homes in Piedmont because they know that our community offers a great education for their children. The strength of our schools directly affects the value of Piedmont homes.

I am proud to live in a community that values education, and I’m thrilled that my grandchildren attend the Piedmont schools. I know that they are receiving an outstanding education that includes small class sizes and access to art classes, libraries, current technology, and eventually AP classes and a range of electives. This breadth of programming exists because Piedmont has consistently passed school parcel taxes for over 30 years, helping to address the lack of state funding for education. In addition to preserving our educational program, we also need to support the teachers who work hard every day to teach our students. Measures G&H will allow us to preserve our educational programs and properly compensate Piedmont teachers.

All of the money raised by our school parcel taxes stays here in Piedmont. Even if you don’t have children who attend the Piedmont schools, Measures G&H are a wise investment because they help protect and improve our property values. The Piedmont schools have been the centerpiece of our community for decades. I encourage Piedmont residents to join me in voting Yes on Measures G&H in order to keep our schools strong.

Sincerely,

Anian Pettit Tunney, Piedmont Resident

Broker Associate , The Grubb Co.

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Oct 24 2019

We all benefit by increased real estate values substantially created by our excellent
Piedmont Schools. Normally larger homes increase in value more than smaller
homes. A single progressive Per Square Foot of Building Tax, a PSFBT, is the best
tax solution for each of us to fairly contribute to our schools based on property
value increases.

PSFBT is used in Alameda since 2011, Emeryville since 2007, Berkeley since 2010, and W. Contra Costa since 2004. Instead our School District has chosen to keep our large regressive flat tax and add a small progressive PSFBT.

March 2013 the School District replaced the existing tax that had “a variety of
progressivity to it” (Board President Raushenbush 12/12/2012) with a
regressive flat rate tax. This resulted in 76% of Piedmont taxpayers on parcels less
than 10,000 square feet (“sf”) paying 6% to 21% more. However 24% of
taxpayers, owners of large parcels, commercial buildings and multi-unit buildings
pay 7% to 80% less. Some large parcels over 20,000 sf go untaxed.

The District commissioned a survey of voter preference. Presented April 24 2019 to
the School Board, the Final Ballot Result compared a single progressive PSFBT that
generates 125% of current revenue to a regressive flat rate tax at 115% of
revenue. The Survey concluded that 73.4% of Piedmont voters definitely/likely will
vote for a 125% progressive PSFBT. The 115% flat rate tax received 62.1%
support. 66.7% is needed to pass.

Initially, I suggested a 115% progressive PSFBT which would likely poll above 74%
and I’m disappointed by the District unfairly comparing a progressive 125%
revenue tax to a regressive 115% tax. Despite this headwind the progressive tax
polled 11.3% higher. Rather than follow voter preference the District created a two
tax Special Election at a cost of $125,000 versus General Election cost of $35,000.
Additionally, as Piedmont taxes and bond obligations are already as expensive as
any in the State and proper funding is critical for Piedmont Schools, the School Tax
conversation should be revisited every four years.

So what is the tax cost to homeowners of a single progressive per square foot of
building tax (“PSFBT”) versus Measures G and H? Proponents state “Measure G will
cost all homeowners $2,763 per year. The cost to homeowners for Measure H will
be 25 cents per square foot of their home.” Measure H generates an additional 25%
in revenue so a single $1.25 per square foot of building tax will generate the same
total revenue as Measures G and H. While I advocated a 115% revenue increase, I
will compare the tax cost of a 125% progressive PSFBT to Measures G and H:

House SF
Tax G Existing
Tax H  +25%
   Total 125%
PSFBT 125%
       2,736
$2,736
$684
$3,420
$3,420
 
 
 
 
 
       2,400
$2,736
$600
$3,336
$3,000
       2,100
$2,736
$525
$3,261
$2,625
       1,800
$2,736
$450
$3,186
$2,250
       1,500
$2,736
$375
$3,111
$1,875
       3,000
$2,736
$750
$3,486
$3,750
       4,000
$2,736
$1,000
$3,736
$5,000
       5,000
$2,736
$1,250
$3,986
$6,250

 

If your home is smaller than 2,763 square feet you will pay less under a single
progressive tax. The median size home in Piedmont is about 2,400 square feet. I
estimate that under a single progressive PSFBT 63% of homeowners will pay less
than with Measures G & H. Mindful of an excessive cost to large homes, Alameda
uses a $7,999 cap and I suggested a $4,999 cap in Piedmont.

Likely you are among the 76% who paid more after 2012 and are in a home smaller
than 2,763 square feet. Additionally according to the District’s own data 73.4% of
residents support a single progressive PSFBT School Tax.

Proponents state: “If Measures G and H do not pass, up to 100 teacher positions will be eliminated.” This outcome would be awful and fortunately our current tax runs through June 2021 so there will be no revenue loss should G and H fail. There will be no teacher eliminations.

Vote NO on Measures G & H so the District will put before us our preferred
choice: a single progressive tax.

Rick Schiller
Piedmont taxpayer

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Oct 23 2019

“I hope we have the civic wisdom to evaluate and plan for the infrastructure changes necessary to accommodate the additional population ADUs [Accessory Dwelling Units] will generate over time; and also to guard against those who would exploit the issue to circumvent the principles articulated in our General Plan and Design Guidelines.”

First, the sour grapes: at its October 21, 2019 meeting, the City Council voted unanimously to overturn a denial of design permit by the Piedmont Planning Commission. A rare event. The decision was, in my opinion, based solely on political expediency centering on “ADUs” – an important civic consideration – that was a never part of the consideration by the Planning Commission and sets a problematic precedent for future residential development in our city.

Without relitigating the details of that decision, I’ll point out that seven separate Planning Commissioners- most leaders in their fields of architecture, design and the like, and Piedmont residents, voted against these similar designs on three occasions over a three year period of time- neighborhood opposition has been consistent throughout the process. For the reversal of the Commission’s decision, standing before the Council were: two Planning Commission nonresident Staff members,who opined on design elements and related matters outside their purview and not burdened by any evident qualifications, the applicant, one non-profit advocacy organization, and three non-neighbor character witnesses.

The advent of ADUs as a civic issue in our State and Piedmont is a legitimate one. I’m not sure there’s a housing crisis so much as an affordable housing crisis, but that’s almost beside the point- the fact is it’s political catnip today and not going away tomorrow. I hope we have the civic wisdom to evaluate and plan for the infrastructure changes necessary to accommodate the additional population those ADUs will generate over time; and also to guard against those who would exploit the issue to circumvent the principles articulated in our General Plan and Design Guidelines.

Philip Stein, Piedmont Resident

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Oct 15 2019

We are proud to be co-chairing the Yes on Measures G&H campaign. Since 1985, Piedmont has passed school support tax measures eight consecutive times. These school support taxes are one of the main reasons that Piedmont continues to have outstanding schools, ranking as among the best in California on student achievement.

There are several reasons why the Piedmont schools need to pass Measures G&H. Piedmont schools receive less state funding per student than neighboring districts because they have fewer students who are in special categories that get extra state funding. For example, Piedmont receives about $2,000 less per student than Oakland Unified School District and about $1,000 less per student than Berkeley Unified School District. In addition, Piedmont has only a few small businesses, and therefore can’t rely on revenues from businesses or donations from large companies. State funding for education is unreliable and has not grown fast enough to keep pace with rising costs, especially rising cost of living for teachers. Therefore, Measures G&H are critical for maintaining high quality schools in Piedmont.

We are fortunate to live in a community that values education and that has passed school parcel taxes consistently for over 30 years. All of the money raised by our community stays in Piedmont to support our students. This local funding helps keep class sizes small, and maintains a range of programs in math, science, technology, and the arts, as well as advanced placement classes, counseling and libraries. This range of programs prepares students for college and careers, and keeps them engaged.

Overall, Piedmont teachers are paid less than teachers in many surrounding schools districts. The average Piedmont teacher has a lower salary than the average teacher in San Ramon, Emeryville, Albany, Union City, and Dublin. Piedmont has lost 22 teachers in the last two years, simply due to cost of living issues. The purpose of Measure H is to address this issue by providing compensation strategies to help recruit and retain high quality teachers.

Together, Measures G&H will provide nearly 30% of our district’s budget and will help maintain the excellence of our Piedmont schools. The strength of our schools helps to protect property values for everyone in Piedmont, not just the residents whose kids attend the schools. For more information about Measures G&H, please visit yesongandh.org.

Hilary Cooper

Doug Ireland

Christine Wente von Metzsch

Editors Note: PCA does not support or oppose ballot measures.  Opinions expressed are those of the authors. 

Oct 14 2019

News coverage against Measure H, “No on Piedmont’s school tax increase,” was published in the East Bay Times, the former Oakland Tribune.  Click below to access the full article.

“Voters in the Nov.  5 special election should approve Measure G, which would extend what district officials have said is the largest parcel tax in the state.  But voters should reject Measure H, which would add a new one. “

“This district isn’t suffering.  At a certain point, residents need to ask district officials how much is enough.”

  https://www.eastbaytimes.com/2019/10/12/editorial-piedmont-voters-should-reject-increase-to-record-tax/

Local Measures
Measure G Parcel Tax Renrewal — Piedmont Unified School District (2/3 Approval Required)
To maintain the high quality of education in Piedmont schools, continue funding programs in math, science, technology, engineering, English, music, and arts, keep textbooks and instructional technology up to date, maintain smaller class sizes, and attract and retain qualified teachers, shall the Piedmont Unified School District renew its expiring parcel tax at an annual rate of $2,763 per parcel for 8 years, providing 10.8 million dollars annually, with independent citizen oversight and all money staying local?
Measure H Parcel Tax Increase — Piedmont Unified School District (2/3 Approval Required)
To provide critically needed funding to attract and retain high quality teachers and educational support staff, shall the Piedmont Unified School District levy a tax of $0.25 per square foot of building improvements, providing 2.6 million dollars annually in dedicated funding for Piedmont schools for 8 years, with independent citizen oversight and all money staying local?
Editors’ Note: PCA does not support or oppose ballot measures.
Oct 14 2019

Click the link below to read an opinion in support of Measures G and H submitted by Piedmont resident Hari Titan.

>Vote_YES_on_Measures_G_and_H

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.  PCA does not support or oppose ballot measures.
Sep 29 2019

City, Piedmont Connect launch Piedmont Climate Challenge

As demonstrators of all ages took to the streets around the world last week to call for action on climate change, the city of Piedmont has launched a new tool to empower local residents to reduce their own impact on the planet.
The Piedmont Climate Challenge uses a fun and simple website to create a friendly competition among residents to explore solutions, take actions and earn points for reducing their household’s greenhouse gas emissions. Households can share points with a team, neighborhood and community group to win prizes and bragging rights.
Nearly 40 households have already signed up for the Challenge since its launch at the Harvest Festival Sunday, Sept. 30. The Challenge will run now through March, followed by an awards celebration in April to recognize the teams who took the most action and earned the most points. So far, the top-performing community group is Beach Elementary School.
The sooner you sign up, the sooner you can start racking up points!

The Challenge is easy to join. Visit www.piedmontclimatechallenge.orgIt takes about 15 minutes to create an account for your household, join your neighborhood and complete your profile.

Once you have a profile, you can visit your dashboard to start or join a team (10 or fewer friends or neighbors) or join a community group. You’ll earn extra points by starting a team and recruiting friends and neighbors. Hosting a casual party is a great way to get started, and Piedmont Connect can arrange for a volunteer Ambassador to join you to demo the Challenge site and features.

Starting in the next week or two, be on the lookout for student Green Club members from Piedmont and Millennium High School who will be canvassing their neighborhoods to sign up households for the Challenge. Over the next month, they will be joined by students in the AP Environmental Science class and members of the Piedmont Community Service Crew. The Piedmont Middle School Green Team will join the effort by educating and motivating Tri-School elementary students at assemblies to introduce the Challenge site to their families.
Marjorie Blackwell, Piedmont Resident
Sep 1 2019

Letter from Piedmont Unified School District regarding school funding  –

For several years, PUSD has been working to educate our community about how the state of California is failing children by not adequately funding education.  We are often asked what can be done to change that.

Now is your chance…

We urge you to contact state legislators Representative Buffy Wicks, Piedmont’s Representative in the State Assembly (email or phone 916-319-2015) and Representative Rob Bonta (email or phone 916-319-2018) today to ask them to support the issue of Full and Fair Funding by placing a measure on the ballot before they adjourn for their fall recess on Sept. 13. 

Please click on the following links to learn more and see the draft script to help you in your outreach and support:

>Full & Fair Funding Letter and Script

>East Bay Coalition for Public Education

There has never been a more critical time to be bold and stand with educators, students, parents and communities across the state to show your support for greater investment in California’s public education system. Full and Fair Funding is an education-specific measure that would move California to the national average in per-pupil funding.

This is the same letter that we have sent to all families across the District.  Join us in support for Full and Fair Funding.

Sincerely,

Randall Booker, Superintendent, Piedmont USD
Terra Salazar, CSEA President, Piedmont USD
Gabriel Kessler, APT President, Piedmont USD
Board of Trustees, Piedmont USD:
Amal Smith, President
Cory Smegal, Vice President
Sarah Pearson
Megan Pillsbury
Andrea Swenson

 
“If we create a culture where every educator believes they need to improve, not because they are not good enough but because they can be even better, there is no limit to what we can achieve.”
– Dylan Wiliam
Piedmont Unified School District
           760 Magnolia Avenue
           Piedmont, CA 94611   510.594.2614 office
           www.piedmont.k12.ca.us

            https://www.twitter.com/piedmontunified