May 6 2019

Recommendation:

Two parcel tax measures: one for each separate parcel and a second measure, an additional add on tax based on square footage of each Piedmont building including single family residences. See full report linked below.

The School Board will discuss potential School District parcel tax measures at their Wednesday, May 8, 2019 Board Meeting in City Hall, 120 Vista Avenue.  The meeting will be broadcast live on cable Channel 27 and the Piedmont website under videos/school board. The tax measure agenda item is set for 8:40 p.m.

  1. Recommendation for 2 Measures on the November 2019 Ballot 

Given the recent poll results and Piedmont’s current educational needs, District staff recommends that the Board of Education consider asking voters to support the renewal of its existing parcel tax to maintain current programs at the $2,656 flat rate (“Measure A”) and in a separate measure (“Measure B”) asking voters for an additional amount ($0.25 per building square foot) to ensure that Piedmont schools will be better able to attract and retain qualified teachers and staff.  Renewing the existing parcel tax (“Measure A”) would secure, $10.5 million in revenues. Measure A is a continuation, no tax increase measure. We would also recommend an 8-year “duration” of the tax to provide a stable ongoing source of revenue to the District and fulfill the description as a pure continuation of what is in place today.  Additionally, we recommend that a second measure (“Measure B”) be placed on the ballot. This second measure would be set at $0.25 per building square foot and would also have an 8-year duration.

Passage of Measure B would result in an additional $2.6 million to the Piedmont schools. Importantly, the entire community would share the burden of an increased tax (although larger properties would pay more and smaller properties less – $139 per year for the smallest residential parcel). An added benefit is that if this tax were challenged from a legal standpoint, only the supplemental tax would be at legal risk.

If both measures pass, the smallest square foot homeowner would pay $2,795 per year, and the largest square foot homeowner would pay $6,568 per year. Together, both measures would raise $13.1 million.

Read the full staff report on the tax measures: > VII_C_BackgroundSchoolSupportTax_0

Read the full May 8 School Board Agenda > https://agendaonline.net/public/Meeting.aspx?AgencyID=1241&MeetingID=72017&AgencyTypeID=1&IsArchived=False

Apr 22 2019

Discussion of School Support Tax Polling Results:

Piedmont Unified School District, City Hall, 120 Vista Avenue.  The School Board Meeting will be broadcast live 7:15 p.m., Wednesday, April 24th on Cable Channel 27 and from the City website under videos/School Board meeting.

READ the staff reports below:

VI_A_BackgroundSchoolSupportTaxPollingResults_

VI_A_PollingResultsPresentation_

Apr 17 2019

Our Piedmont community will soon be asked to renew the School Support Tax that funds roughly 25% of the Piedmont Unified School District’s (PUSD) budget. Because the State does not adequately fund education, the School Support Tax is critical to maintaining the excellence of Piedmont schools.

The current School Support Tax (Measure A), approved by the community in 2013, taxes each taxable parcel the same amount. In recent letters, Mr. Rick Schiller advocates what he terms a “progressive tax” to replace Measure A. Mr. Schiller proposes that the next tax: (1) apply a uniform tax rate to the square feet of buildings on a taxable parcel, rather than a uniform amount to each taxable parcel, thus shifting more of the cost of schools to owners of large homes; (2) impose a lower rate on unimproved lots; (3) include an “income based senior exemption”; and (4) continue to include “compassionate SSI and SSDI exemptions,” which exempt property owners below certain poverty levels.

The next School Support Tax should fairly allocate a community cost and must indisputably comply with the law. Mr. Schiller’s proposal exposes PUSD to litigation risk that I believe would be imprudent to accept. Further, I do not consider Mr. Schiller’s proposed tax to be “progressive.”

I must start with the litigation risk (excuse the detail), which could impose unaffordable costs on PUSD and potentially leave our schools unfunded. Piedmont’s School Support Tax is a “qualified special tax” authorized by California Government Code § 50079, which provides such a tax “means special taxes that apply uniformly to all taxpayers or all real property within the school district, except that unimproved property may be taxed at a lower rate than improved property.” (Emphasis added).

In Borikas v. Alameda Unified School District, 214 Cal.App.4th 135 (2013), the Court invalidated Alameda’s school parcel tax (Measure H), which taxed residential and commercial properties, and commercial properties above and below 2000 square feet, differently. The plaintiffs argued that Section 50079 “means all taxpayers and all real property must be treated the same, and school districts are not empowered to treat different kinds of taxpayers, and different kinds of real property, differently.” Id. at 147. The Court agreed, holding that Section 50079 “does not empower school districts to classify taxpayers and property, and impose different tax rates.” Id. at 151. The Court found it could “sever” the invalid parts of Measure H, and upheld a parcel tax of $120 per parcel. Id. at 166-67.

Mr. Schiller, and others before him, have argued that Borikas does not bar a tax under Section 50079 based on a uniform rate per square foot (either of land or buildings). Borikas did not expressly rule on such a tax. However, Borikas found it must follow Section 50079’s text, and the text refers to “special taxes that apply uniformly to all taxpayers or all real property.” It does not refer to a uniform rate, but to a tax that applies uniformly.

The tax imposed on small vs. large parcels/homes would be different under a “per square foot” tax. Further, looking to Section 50079’s legislative history, Borikas rejected Alameda’s claim that it would be unfair for “all parcels [to] bear the same tax, regardless of size,” noting: “The Legislature was aware, however, that uniform parcel taxes were considered ‘more inequitable’ than ad valorem property taxes because all parcels, regardless of size, are subject to the same tax. … Nevertheless, the Legislature made no adjustments or provisions in this regard.” Id. at 158 (emphasis added); accord id. at fn. 27.

Nothing since Borikas has removed the risk that a Piedmont “per square foot” tax under Section 50079 will be ruled invalid. In 2014, SB 1021 was introduced in the California Legislature to amend Section 50079 to expressly authorize a “per square foot” tax—it did not pass. In 2018, the Legislature adopted AB 2954, which amended Section 50079 to allow school districts to tax unimproved property “at a lower rate than improved property,” but did not authorize a “per square foot” tax.  While the reference to a “rate” rather than an “amount,” provides an argument that uniformity refers to “rate” also, there is no ruling on point.

Mr. Schiller notes that the Alameda Superior Court has twice upheld Alameda School District’s later parcel taxes, which impose a “per square foot” taxes. However, the Alameda Superior Court also upheld Measure H, and the lawsuits against Alameda’s later taxes were settled before the First District Court of Appeals, which issued Borikas, ruled on appeal.

Mr. Schiller also relies on Dondlinger v. Los Angeles County Regional Park, No. B284932 (2019), but that case addressed Pub. Resources Code § 5566, a different statute, which expressly states that a park district may establish a “rate” which “is to be applied uniformly.” Further, Dondlinger is a Second District decision; Piedmont is in the First District, which is governed by the Borikas decision.

Until the First District Court of Appeals or the California Supreme Court upholds a “per square foot” school parcel tax, or the Legislature amends Section 50079 to expressly allow such a tax, I do not think it is prudent for PUSD to take the litigation risk of asking Piedmonters to approve such a tax. Litigation could cost $100,00 to $500,000, depending upon motions, trial and appeals. PUSD does not have that to spare. Moreover, to feel secure in spending the tax revenue, PUSD would have to file a validation action, but that simply ensures any litigation starts quickly.

While it is possible that no Piedmont property owner would challenge such a tax, there is no way to remove the risk. (Note that Alameda’s parcel taxes have been challenged three times). PUSD could not spend the tax revenue until any litigation is resolved, as PUSD would have no way to pay back the taxes collected if the tax ultimately were held invalid. Further, because PUSD cannot fund its school budget without a parcel tax, if the tax was challenged, PUSD would have to run another parcel tax election immediately, at additional significant expense. Under Mr. Schiller’s proposal, PUSD (and every Piedmont family with school children) would take this risk so that owners of small homes could pay less than owners of large homes. There are times when accepting litigation risk is necessary. This is not one of them.

I also believe that the School Support Tax must be fair to Piedmont residents. The Piedmont schools benefit every resident. For nearly everyone, our children have gone, are going, or will go to school. Piedmont residents have shared the cost of public education no matter where they are in this cycle. Moreover, the excellence of the Piedmont schools is why Piedmont homes are so valuable. Further, an available and excellent public education is fundamental to civil society, and we all have a civic duty to ensure it. Asking the owner of each taxable parcel to pay the same amount seems fair to me. I include unimproved parcels as the Piedmont schools make those parcels valuable.

A “progressive” tax generally is perceived as taxing wealthy people more by increasing the tax rate at higher levels of wealth or income, and is supported by the notion that those who have more money can afford to pay more tax toward community needs. In claiming his proposed tax is “progressive,” Mr. Schiller equates a building’s “square feet” as equivalent to wealth or income, and assumes that owners with more “square feet” can afford to pay more. That may be true in some cases, but certainly not all.

Square feet alone does not establish the value of a home (consider age, quality or location). Owning a large home does not establish wealth other than the home itself (it may have been bought long ago) or a ready ability to pay higher taxes (a young family may have stretched to buy a home with sufficient bedrooms, or a retiree bought a large home years ago).

I also do not support an “income-based senior exemption.” Age does not determine whether a homeowner has a ready ability to pay the School Support Tax.  Nor is current income a true measure of wealth or ability to pay.

Moreover, per the last census, roughly 20% of Piedmont residents were over 65. Assuming roughly 20% of homeowners also are over 65 (it could be higher), exempting any significant number would either underfund the schools or impose a significant burden on the remaining taxpayers.

Further, under Proposition 13, those of us who have owned a home here longer (and are usually older) pay less property tax than young families who have bought a home more recently.  PUSD’s existing income-based SSI and SSDI exemptions (see Section 50079(b)) provide relief to those who are truly in severe financial distress, regardless of their age. That seems an appropriate balance between a homeowner’s ability to pay and the needs of the community.

I support the current Measure A structure—each taxable parcel paying the same amount to support our schools, with narrow exemptions for those truly in financial distress.

Richard W. Raushenbush, Former Piedmont School Board Member

Apr 16 2019

Extensive New Recreation Projects May Call for a New Piedmont Tax Measure

Projects being considered by the City are the Aquatic Center with expanded new pool and facilities, Coaches Field reconfiguration and night lighting, Linda Beach Park improvements, and updating of the Recreation Building and Veterans Hall.  

Volunteers with support primarily from sports and recreation enthusiasts may be knocking on your door to learn about your funding ideas for the numerous recreation projects through a voter approved bond measure.  Door knocking, a common election tool used to estimate specific approval or rejection of potential ballot bond measures, is underway in Piedmont. 

Some Piedmont leaders have indicated gaining more knowledge about Piedmont voter preferences for recreation facilities is needed to learn where support or opposition lies. The volunteer knocking on your door may be a neighbor. 

Larry Tramutola, a Piedmont resident and widely known political consultant on taxing issues involving cities, special districts, school districts, etc., volunteered to advise on methods for approaching and convincing voters to support a new recreation bond measure.

Consultants, planners, recreation enthusiasts, commissioners, and the City Council have for years been fashioning various plans for improved or enhanced recreation facilities throughout Piedmont. The City has expended a significant amount of money and time towards the plans.

To date, no bond proposals have reached the City Council. 

Consideration of voter acceptance of a bond measure was studied by the Council over a year ago resulting in insufficient voter support by polled voters for bond funding of the recreation projects. For approval, the bond measure would require approval by 2/3rds of those voting on the measure.

New Internal Revenue Service laws may impact Piedmonters willingness to further tax themselves, as there is a recent limitation of $10,000 on deductibility of state and local taxes.

Mar 27 2019

Will the properties be converted to multi-family housing?

Piedmonters are shocked and saddened to learn that by April 30th they will lose the Valero gas and service station in the center of Piedmont at Highland Way and Highland Avenue operated by Simon Ho.

Ho has rented the property for over 10 years and gained a highly regarded reputation for his service to the community and its many vehicles. Although negotiations had been occurring, Ho cannot meet the rental increase demands of owner Tarvinder Bains from $8,000 per month to $17,000.  Consequently, Ho has made plans to relocate his automobile repair business to MacArthur Avenue in the Dimond District of Oakland.

Bains has proposed no new plans for the property, however a significant new factor is a potential change of use allowed by Piedmont’s recent zoning change directly impacting the property.

Without voter approval, although required by the Piedmont City Charter, the property was rezoned from Commercial to Commercial and Multi-family housing (Mixed Use). The zoning change allows multi-family housing plus commercial use of the properties in the former Commercial zone. The zoning change allows housing projects with a height of essentially 3 stories to be built in the zone.

The zoning change approved by the Piedmont City Council not only impacts the Valero Station property in the center of Piedmont, but the Shell Station property recently noted “For Sale” at the corner of Wildwood and Grand Avenues.

A subcommittee of the Planning Commission has been meeting regularly to discuss and consider recommendations on Design Guidelines that would impact all zones in Piedmont including the aforementioned properties.  The meetings have not been open to the public.

“[Planning] Commissioner [Tom] Ramsey reported the subcommittee reviewed a complete draft Update of the Design Guidelines and provided comments. The majority of the consultants’ work has been consolidating information from various sections of the Guidelines and receiving feedback from local architects and Commissioners. Planning Director Jackson advised that draft Design Guidelines will be released for public review later in March, and the release will contain the dates for submission of public comments. The draft Design Guidelines will be presented to the Planning Commission on April 8 for discussion. At its May meeting, the Planning Commission will make a recommendation to the City Council. Planning Director Jackson thanked Chair Behrens and Commissioner Ramsey for serving on the subcommittee. Chair Behrens remarked that the use of photographs rather than drawings in the draft Design Guidelines gives more reality to accompanying comments.”  Minutes of March 2019 Planning Commission meeting. 

Planning Commission Agenda on Monday, April 8:

RECEIPT AND DISCUSSION OF DRAFT DESIGN GUIDELINES AND UPDATE – 

Receipt of a draft update of the City of Piedmont Design Guidelines, an informational report from the City’s consultant regarding the draft update, including an opportunity for public comment and Commissioner discussion.

The meeting is open to the public and will be broadcast live starting at 5:00 p.m. on Channel 27 and on the Piedmont website under videos, Planning Commission. 

Once the Planning Commission reviews the subcommittee, staff and consultants recommendations and approves them, their recommended Design Guidelines will go to the City Council for consideration and potential approval.  These meetings will be open to the public.

Valero and Shell Stations:

When there is a proposed change of use, all proposals must go before the Piedmont Planning Commission and the Piedmont City Council to receive Conditional Use Permit approval.  Public notification to nearby property owners is required when changes are reviewed, but, recently, when important changes were made to uses within the city, the city as a whole was not informed. 

Individuals interested in the development of either properties, Valero or Shell, can inform the Piedmont Planning Department and the Piedmont City Council of their desire to be notified when and if new plans are proposed for the two properties.

Planning Department – kjackson@piedmont.ca.gov

City Council – citycouncil@ci.piedmont.ca.us

For more information, contact Planning Director Kevin Jackson:   kjackson@piedmont.ca.gov

Mar 15 2019

Dear Editor,

Since changing to Daylight Saving Time (DSL) last Sunday, media opinionators are talking about making it year-round.  Permanent DSL is a terrible, dangerous idea.  Setting the clocks ahead one hour moves an hour of morning light to the end of the day.  That’s great between March 21 and September 21, when there is more daylight than night.  But for the winter-half of the year, we need more light in the morning when kids are going to school.

Our children go to school at about the same time that commuters are starting their treks to work.  Darkness and early morning sun in commuters’ eyes create dangerous hazards.  Later in the day, schools end before most commuters return home, so evening darkness is not as dangerous.

As it is, Daylight Saving Time ends in November, nearly two months past the September 21 Equinox.  Shortening, not lengthening, the DST period would make mornings safer for our children and grandchildren.

Yours truly,

Bruce Joffe, Piedmont Resident

Mar 8 2019

LWVP Biannual Fundraiser 2019

Carla Marinucci

Renowned political journalist Carla Marinucci will speak about the current political environment at a fundraiser for the Piedmont League of Women Voters. 

Carla Marinucci, one of the most notable political journalists in California, is currently POLITICO’s California Playbook reporter. Prior to joining POLITICO last year, Marinucci was senior political writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, and before that for the San Francisco Examiner. She has covered presidential elections since 1996, and six California gubernatorial elections, as well as the administrations of four California governors. In 2013, she was honored by the Society of Professional Journalists with a lifetime achievement award for her coverage of California politics.

  • Date: Sunday, March 24, 2019
  • Time: 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. (Refreshments 3:30 to 4:00 p.m.)
  • Location: Piedmont Veterans’ Memorial Building, 401 Highland Ave, Piedmont  94611   See map: Google Maps
  • Tickets: $25 in advance; $30 at the door ($10 student tickets available at the door)
 Purchase your tickets via PayPal with the button below. (You do not need a PayPal account.)

Prefer to mail a payment? Make your check payable to LWVP and mail to Ward Lindenmayer, 40 Highland Avenue, Piedmont, CA  94611. Please note how many tickets you are purchasing.

Editors’ Note: The Piedmont Civic Association is a separate organization.
Mar 6 2019

In 2013, our current flat rate per parcel School Tax was passed by voters to replace the previous Tax based on a five tier parcel size levy, a modestly progressive tax. Our School Board expressed sincere regret at eliminating the progressive tax but believed it had no choice other than to tax all parcels regardless of size at the same rate because of the 2012 Boricas v Alameda USD Appeal’s Court decision.

Of the 3,921 School tax parcels in Piedmont, 76% of Piedmont homes are on parcels under 10,000 square feet (“sf”). These taxpayers previous $1,989 and $2,260 tax became $2,406 in 2013, a 6% to 21% increase.  Owners of undeveloped parcels went from $1,009 to $2,406, a 238% increase. However, a small percentage of taxpayers benefited as owners of large parcels, commercial buildings and multi-unit buildings saw reductions of 7% to 80%. Some large commercial buildings previously taxed at $5,052 went to $2,406, a 52% decrease. 20,000 sf lots went from $3,378 to $2,406, a 29% decrease. A multi-unit building went from $11,907 to $2,406, an 80% decrease.

A progressive tax based on per square footage of building space is used in Alameda and other districts. The current Alameda tax passed by 74% in 2016 was challenged in 2017 on the validity of levying a tax on building square footage. Mar 4, 2018, the Alameda Schools per square footage of building tax was found legally valid in Alameda County Superior Court. Jan 31, 2019, a California appellate court validated a local agency’s special tax calculated on the basis of square footage of improved structures (Dondlinger v. Los Angeles County Regional).

Piedmont Schools previously embraced a partially progressive tax and now has an excellent progressive tax option that is far more equitable by using building per square footage. I propose the following progressive tax:

(1) Tax will be at $1 to $1.05 per square foot of building size. The District will determine the exact rate needed to provide funding at slightly above the current level.

(2) $4,999 will be the maximum tax for any building.

(3) Currently some multi-parcel estates are subject to multiple taxes and some are subject to one tax (GC 53087.4). So that all multi-parcel estates are treated uniformly and given that many multi-parcel estates have large homes that will be assessed at the maximum tax, a contiguous parcel exemption will be included. No property owner for a single home will pay more than $4,999.

(4) $1,099 will be the rate for unimproved lots.

(5) A 2% annual cost adjustment will be included.

(6) The tax may include an income based senior exemption at a rate to be determined so as not to cost the District more than 2% of the what the total tax revenue would be without this exemption.

(7) Compassionate SSI and SSDI exemptions will be included. These are not aged based.

        Rick Schiller, Piedmont Resident

Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Dec 9 2018

City of Piedmont

Special City Council Meeting

The City Council will find and declare that the whole number of ballots cast and numbers of votes received are as set forth in the attached canvass, that Betsy Smegal Andersen, Teddy Gray King, and Tim Rood have been elected to the Piedmont City Council and that Megan Pillsbury and Amal Smith have been elected to the Board of Education; the City Council will find and declare that the whole number of ballots cast and numbers of votes received are as set forth in the attached canvass and that Charter Amendment Measure BB and Charter Amendment Measure CC have received the required number of votes and have been adopted by the voters of Piedmont. (See election results attachment below.)

 Tuesday, December 11, 2018 6:30 p.m.

Community Hall, 711 Highland Avenue

The meeting and election celebration is open to the public. 

Agenda:

Call to Order    Pledge of Allegiance 

1. Certification of Election Results for the General Municipal Election of November 6, 2018 

2. Swearing In of New Councilmembers

3. Election of Mayor (Conducted by Vice Mayor)

4. Election of Vice Mayor (Conducted by New Mayor)

5. Comments by New Councilmembers

6. Comments by New Mayor

Link to November 6, 2018 election results is below:

http://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/html/govern/staffreports/2018-12-11/electioncertification.pdf

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