Feb 12 2019

February 11, 2019

Randall Booker, Superintendent, Piedmont Unified School District – 760 Magnolia Avenue – Piedmont, CA 94611 rbooker@piedmont.k12.ca.us

Robert McBain, Mayor, City of Piedmont, 120 Vista Avenue – Piedmont, CA 94611 rmcbain@piedmont.ca.gov

Re: Retention of Police Officer to Serve Full-Time in Piedmont Unified School District

Dear Messrs. Booker and McBain:

I write to you on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Piedmont. Our organization supports the importance of transparency in local government and a high level of education within the Piedmont Unified School District. It is our understanding that the Board of Education will be voting during its upcoming February board meeting on the issue of whether to employ a full-time police officer in the school district as a School Resource Officer. We are also informed that should the Board of Education approve the employment of this officer, the City Council will then vote on whether to approve this position since the officer would be a member of the Piedmont Police Department.

Our League Board has discussed this issue and we believe that a decision by the Board of Education and the City Council on this matter is premature at this time, and as such, would be counter to our positions on local government and education.

Specifically, we are concerned with transparency and the ability of the Board of Education and the City Council to make an informed decision on this matter with the information currently at their disposal. For example, we are concerned there is a lack of information surrounding the explicit objectives of having a police officer on school campuses, what training the officer would be required to fulfill, what weapons the officer would carry or retain on campus, what the officer’s objectives would be, how success or failure will be measured, and what consequences may arise for the students as a result of having an officer on campus. These are just several among many unanswered questions that we feel should be addressed prior to any formal decision-making processes and, in fact, long before students, teachers and parents are surveyed on their views on the issue of hiring such a police officer to serve in the schools.

We thus urge both the Board of Education and the City Council to exercise due diligence in gathering information about both the benefits and potential consequences in hiring a School Resource Officer, and to fully communicate and share information with all stakeholders in this community about these details before holding any formal vote on the matter.

Sincerely,

Nancy A. Beninati,President, League of Women Voters Piedmont

Feb 11 2019

For school year 2019 -20, Piedmont’s School District faces a drop in Elementary School enrollment. Middle School enrollment will also be down. (See attached chart in downloadable staff report.) The elementary students could be reassigned to equalize class sizes between the three elementary schools. Or, students living outside Piedmont may be admitted to fill the classroom spaces.

When space is available, students may be admitted, under certain conditions, from outside of the School District based on the state law called >“Open Enrollment”. Under the law, students from underachieving school districts may be allowed to transfer into higher achieving school districts based on classroom and teacher availability.

Implications of Program Capacity

“The District’s programmatic capacity as defined [in the staff report] will be utilized in making decisions about the placement of resident students who, in some cases, must be redirected to sites that are outside of their neighborhood school zone when capacity will be exceeded. In addition, programmatic capacity will guide the District’s ability to accept or deny and place inter-district transfer requests [students from outside of the Piedmont Unified School District].”

School District Staff Report

The School Board will consider the enrollment and capacity issue on Wednesday, February 13, 2019 at 8:45 p.m. in Piedmont City Hall Council Chambers, 120 Vista Avenue. READ the Agenda below for timing: >https://agendaonline.net/public/Meeting.aspx?AgencyID=1241&MeetingID=70531&AgencyTypeID=1&IsArchived=False . The meeting will be broadcast live on Cable Channel 27 and from the City website under videos of the School Board meeting of February 13, 2019.

VIII. INFORMATION/DISCUSSION 
VIII.A. Enrollment and Capacity Study 
Time Certain:8:45 PM Speaker:Randall Booker, Superintendent READ Downloadable Staff Report: >Background – Enrollment 
Feb 4 2019

City Council Consideration of Police Officer in the Piedmont schools.

Draft minutes of the January 7, 2019 City Council meeting to be considered Monday, February 4, 2019 at 7:30 p.m. :

“Police School Resource City Administrator Paul Benoit indicated that the Police Department had applied Position for and received a grant from the State of California to possibly fund a School Resource Officer (SRO) position. He indicated that the application timeline for the grant did not allow for City Council or the Board of Education to discuss the possibility of a SRO prior to the application. Mr. Benoit recognized that the application for and receipt of the grant was ahead of preferred sequence of events.

“Mr. Benoit stated Chief Bowers and Piedmont  Unified School District Superintendent Booker would conduct public outreach and return to the City Council and Board of Education for determination of whether or not to accept the grant and establish the SRO position.

“Mr. Benoit indicated that the grant offered a grant opportunity and, should the Board of Education and City Council choose to move forward, a discussion would need to take place before the grant funding expired as to whether the program would continue and how it would be funded.

“Chief Bowers summarized his and Superintendent Booker’s discussions for a SRO and discussed existing programs offered to students by the Police Department. He indicated that a reliable and consistent presence in the schools is necessary to foster true and trusting relationships between students and the Police Department. He informed the Council of the duties and effectiveness of an SRO.

 PUSD Superintendent Randall Booker stressed the importance of assigning appropriate tasks to the SRO, and the dangers of involving a SRO with school discipline. He discussed the importance of hiring the correct person for the position, ensuring that they have core values of service and education. He provided statistics on the need for caring adults on campus and a stronger, positive connection between students and officers.

“Chief Bowers explained the grant funds, which would cover the first three years, and discussed the proposed community engagement. Chief Bowers indicated that he and Superintendent Booker would visit schools as well as parent and community groups to discuss and hear feedback on the proposed program. They would then return to the Board of Education and City Council, which will decide whether to establish the program and accept the grant.

“Public Testimony was received from: Sunny Bostrom-Fleming indicated support for an SRO and commended Chief Bowers for applying for the grant.

“Tonda Case, Co-President of Piedmont Appreciating Diversity Committee, questioned whether a SRO was an appropriate solution for Piedmont. She suggested increased public engagement and outreach to determine if a SRO is necessary.

“The Council acknowledged the work of the Police Department in applying for the grant. They commended the relationship between the City and the PUSD. The Council agreed with the proposed outreach program, making suggestions as to how outreach could be most effectively undertaken. The Council requested the Board of Education make a decision on whether it wanted to pursue the program before the matter is brought back to the Council for consideration. (0785, 0765)”

Communicate with the City Council:

Robert McBain, Mayorrmcbain@piedmont.ca.gov
Teddy Gray King, Vice Mayortking@piedmont.ca.gov
Jennifer Cavenaughjcavenaugh@piedmont.ca.gov
Tim Roodtrood@piedmont.ca.gov
Betsy Smegal Andersenbandersen@piedmont.ca.gov

 To send comments to  all Councilmembers > citycouncil@ci.piedmont.ca.us. To send via U.S. Mail, use the following address: City Council, City of Piedmont, 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94611

Communicate with the School Board:

Amal Smith, President, amalsmith@piedmont.k12.ca.us
Cory Smegal, Vice President, csmegal@piedmont.k12.ca.us
Andrea Swenson, aswenson@piedmont.k12.ca.us
Sarah Pearson, spearson@piedmont.k12.ca.us
Megan Pillsbury, mpillsbury@piedmont.k12.ca.us

Jan 31 2019

“The ten robberies which were reported during 2018 were generally street robberies where suspects approached individuals on sidewalks, driveways, or other public areas and took items of value by means of force or fear. One of the robberies was a home invasion robbery where the suspects confronted residents. The suspects in that incident were identified, arrested, and have been charged with numerous felonies. Burglaries, defined generally as the unlawful entry into a dwelling or specified structure with the intent to commit a theft or other felony, decreased from 60 incidents in 2017 to 47 incidents in 2018. Larceny-theft increased from 97 reported offenses in 2017 to 123 reported offenses in 2018. Motor vehicle theft also increased in 2018.”

In 2018, Piedmont police officers made 17 arrests and recovered 29 stolen vehicles with a valuation of $257,800 in events directly related to the Automated License Plate Recognition (ALPR) cameras. By comparison, officers made 28 arrests and recovered 39 stolen vehicles with an approximate valuation of $254,933 in 2017.
Also provided with this report is a printout of the Piedmont Police Department Case Disposition Report. This report shows the number of police reports generated by the Department during the year, as well as the disposition of those cases.

“While the Police Department continuously conducts proactive patrols to mitigate thefts and other crimes, we cannot overemphasize the importance of residents and visitors employing basic crime prevention actions such as not leaving valuables in vehicles.”   Piedmont Police 

School Resource Officer – Police Officer within the High and Middle School

The Superintendent of Piedmont Unified School District and the Police Chief established regular monthly meetings in May of 2018 for information sharing and to identify collaborative opportunities for improvement. The Department and PUSD proposed a School Resource Officer (SRO) position to the Board of Education and City Council.

Public outreach efforts to parents, students, staff and other community stakeholders are currently underway. Comments can be made to the School Board and City Council.

The Board of Education and City Council will ultimately decide whether to implement the recommended SRO program. Should the program be approved for implementation, the first three years of the salary and benefits would be paid for by a State of California, Department of Justice tobacco grant.

The Crime Report will be discussed at the Piedmont Council meeting on Monday, February 4, 2019, in the Council Chambers, City Hall, 120 Vista Avenue starting at 7:30 p.m. The meeting will be broadcast live from the City website under videos and on Cable Channel #27.

Read the full 2018 Year End Crime Report including the Crime Map by clicking below:

http://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/html/govern/staffreports/2019-02-04/yearendcrimereport.pdf

Jan 29 2019

City of Piedmont
Public Safety Committee Agenda
Thursday, January 31, 2019
5:30 p.m.

City Council Chambers, 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, CA

Public Forum This is an opportunity for members of the audience to speak on an item not on the agenda. The 10 minute period will be divided evenly between those wishing
to address the Committee.

Regular Agenda

  1. Approval of Public Safety Committee Meeting Minutes for 9/27/18 and 11/29/18
  2. Fire Department Presentation on Camp Fire
  3. Update on Public Safety Cameras
  4. Update on School Resource Officer

Jan 25 2019

This award is presented annually to individuals who have volunteered their efforts over a period of time and made a difference because of their involvement and commitment to Piedmont’s youth.

Following are the previous recipients: Hunter McCreary (1998); Ann Chandler (1999); Ruth Cuming (2000); Lisa Lomenzo (2001); jointly by Cathie Geddeis and Marion Souyoultzis (2002); jointly by Fritz and Mary Wooster (2003); Elizabeth (Betsy) Gentry (2004); Cynthia Gorman (2005); Grier Graff (2006); Julia Burke (2007); Maude Pervere (2008); jointly to Anne-Marie Lamarche and Mark Menke (2009); Janiele Maffei Tovani (2010); Andrea Swenson (2011), June Monach (2012), Bill Drum (posthumously) and Mary Ireland (2013), Ray Perman (2014), Jennifer Fox (2015), Katie Korotzer (2016), Hilary Cooper (2017) and Holly Hanke (2018).

Art Hecht was a tireless community volunteer, and was dedicated to students in both Piedmont and Oakland. He served on Piedmont’s Board of Education from 1970 to 1982. Art also was very active with the Piedmont Continuation High School (now called Millennium High School).

In 1998, the Art Hecht Volunteer of the Year Award was established in his memory. Nominations for this award are now being sought and will be kept strictly confidential.

The deadline for nominations is 4:30 p.m. on March 18, 2019.  Call 510/ 594-2614 for details.

A selection committee will vote on the award recipient, who will be recognized at the May 8, 2019 Board of Education meeting, where the honoree’s good works will be acknowledged. They also will receive the gift of a work of student art. The student will receive a monetary award and commendation from the Board.

Nomination Forms are available > HERE , on the PUSD website, and in the District Office or by calling Sylvia Eggert, Administrative Assistant to the Superintendent, at (510) 594-2614.

Jan 21 2019

The goal of this year’s Giving Campaign was to raise $2.5 million in the fall of 2018. Residents from across Piedmont rallied like never before and contributed a record $2.8 million, a 13% increase from last year’s results.

Giving Campaign Raised $2.8 Million, Largest Amount Ever for Piedmont’s Schools

Press Release
PIEDMONT, California — The Piedmont Education Foundation (PEF) is thrilled to announce the results of the 2018-19 Giving Campaign, the annual fundraiser to support Piedmont schools. Funds raised by the campaign help to maintain low student to teacher ratios as well as essential programs including libraries and librarians, art and music, teachers, S.T.E.A.M. training, electives, A.P. classes, counselors, and special education support.


The Giving Campaign received donations from 1255 families and individuals, an 11% increase from the 2017-18 Giving Campaign. Additionally, two-thirds of all families of students in the Piedmont Unified School District contributed to the Giving Campaign and more than 95% of members of all six School Parent Club Boards donated with one Board reaching 100% participation.


Heather Frank, Executive Director of the Piedmont Education Foundation, is grateful to the community for its exceptional support. “We reached more people this year through marketing and personal asks,” said Frank, “but I think the main reason for the increased success is that the Piedmont community has done the research and understands the unprecedented needs of our schools. Piedmont schools have a rigorous, robust and inclusive program. This community knows how special that is and will work to maintain it.”


Robert McBain, Mayor of Piedmont and a former Board Member of the Piedmont Education Foundation, is also pleased with the campaign’s stellar outcome. “Congratulations to the Piedmont Education Foundation, Giving Campaign organizers and all of the volunteers for producing this great result. Truly impressive,” said McBain. “I always remain grateful for the generosity of our community in supporting Piedmont’s great schools.”


The success of Piedmont’s Giving Campaign comes amid a backdrop of challenges for California’s public schools. “Without the Giving Campaign, our schools would look very different,” remarked Randall Booker, Superintendent of the Piedmont Unified School District. “California has failed to provide school districts with sufficient funds to pay teachers appropriately. The continued growth of the Giving Campaign shows how much the Piedmont community values our teachers and our students.” Notably, funds raised by PEF from the generous community last year helped ensure that Piedmont teachers would have a raise for the first time in years.


Cortney Allen and Nicki Gilbert, parents of Piedmont students and the volunteer Co-Chairs of the 2018-19 Giving Campaign are exceptionally proud of the results. “Thank you to all the parents, grandparents, empty-nesters, Parent Club Presidents, and other community members for their support and generosity,” said Allen and Gilbert. “More than 50 parents volunteered to help with this year’s campaign – a true grassroots effort!”


The Piedmont Education Foundation invites all residents of Piedmont to join in a Giving Campaign Wrap-Up Celebration on Friday, January 25 at 3 p.m. at the Exedra Arch in Piedmont Park. Hot chocolate, courtesy of Mulberry’s Market, will be served. For more information on the Giving Campaign, go to www.piedmontedfoundation.org/donate/giving-campaign.


About PEF, Piedmont Education Foundation, is a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to providing sustained financial support. Led by a 25-member volunteer board of directors and supported by a professional office staff, PEF oversees the Giving Campaign, Spring Fling, the Student Directory, and much more. Visit PiedmontEdFoundation.org to learn more.

Jan 9 2019

The City Council at their January 7, 2019 meeting discussed at length a proposal by Piedmont Police Chief Jeremy Bowers and School Superintendent Randall Booker to use grant funding for three years to install a sworn and armed police officer in the Piedmont Unified School District, who would be assigned to the Piedmont High School and Middle School.

Praise was given to Bowers for seeking grant funding.  The Council had not previously been involved in seeking the grant and wondered if the money could be used for other than a Sworn Police Officer (SRO) in reaching community and school goals.  The answer was no.

After taking community input, a target of bringing the matter back to the Council in March was suggested.

Some notions expressed were:

  • Armed officer in the schools – good or bad
  • Ability to afford an SRO following the grant appeared difficult
  • Need to learn more about SRO effectiveness from other schools
  • Potential for allinating minority individuals
  • Having a snitch on school property
  • Downside risks
  • Other methods of achieving goals
  • Current experiences within the Piedmont schools
  • Training necessary to achieve expansive job description

The Piedmont School Board and City Council must both agree on a SRO.

There were requests for greater outreach to the community prior to making the decision, which is targeted in the next few months in hopes of having a SRO for fall 2019.

Jan 9 2019

Jan 9, 2019

In 2012 the current School tax was formulated because of the Boricas v Alameda USD (“AUSD”) Appeal’s Court decision. At that time Piedmont Unified School District (“PUSD”) declared the only possible tax methodology was to tax every parcel at the same rate because Boricas had rendered Piedmont’s previous attempt at a progressive tax by parcel size legally invalid.

PUSD’s hurried decision was not the only option and certainly not the best option as compared to the previous five tier parcel system, the current flat rate tax raised the rate of 75% of those in smaller homes by about $300 while lowering the rate by over $1000 for the largest estates.

I. A progressive tax based on a per square foot (“sf”) of building space has been and is currently used by AUSD. The current AUSD tax Measure B1, passed by 74% in 2016, was challenged by the 2011 Boricas Plaintiffs and in 2018 AUSD prevailed. PUSD cannot in good faith claim per square foot of building tax levy is invalid. < https://tinyurl.com/yb8g4f92 >

A progressive tax is essential for Piedmont’s expensive school support tax. No other School Tax comes close in cost to taxpayers. While Piedmont had previously embraced a partially progressive tax, PUSD now has a progressive tax option that is far more equitable using building square footage.

Commonly accepted is the direct correlation of the quality of Piedmont Schools and ever increasing real estate values in town. Values are also a function of home size: the larger home in a given neighborhood will proportionally increase in value more than a similar smaller home. Ask any Real Estate professional.

Additionally, the larger Piedmont home generally accommodates more children; the large homeowner again economically benefits proportionately more from the school tax than the small or average size homeowner. Incorporating a square foot of building tax will be both more equitable and palatable to a large majority of taxpayers and an easier sell for the Tax Campaign Committee.

The Piedmont tax currently provides about $10,400,000. There are about 10,340,000 square feet of residential buildings so about $1 a foot is needed. The average home size is about 2,430 sf so essentially many homeowners will pay close to the current amount. Median size of 2,710 sf indicates that those with larger homes will proportionately pay their fair share.

II. Piedmont taxpayers voted on a tax that stated every parcel will be taxed but every parcel with a unique Assessor Parcel Number (APN) is not taxed. Examples include several parcels over 20,000 sf that are not taxed yet other large vacant parcels are taxed. An eight sf parcel at the edge of town is taxed yet the adjacent 144 sf parcel is not taxed. The hodge-podge system must end. A tax based on square foot of building and flat rate for vacant parcels, as AUSD uses, will take care of these inequities. A contiguous parcel exemption may be appropriate.

III. From high to low most California school taxes include a senior exemption.
San Marino USD with its $1,215 parcel tax has a senior exemption and West Contra Costa County with its 7.2 cents per sf of building has a senior exemption.
Among California’s top ten school districts Piedmont alone does not include a senior exemption.

According to the US Census about 20% of Piedmonters are over 65 and a straight senior exemption may unfairly tax young families given the very high Piedmont school tax. An income based Senior Exemption is needed; one or two per cent of seniors would qualify.

In 2012 the Board informed the public an income based Senior Exemption is not allowed by State Law yet the income based senior exemption was then and is now commonly used elsewhere. Locally income based senior exemptions are used in Oakland, Berkeley, Orinda and Moraga. State law applies equally to all school districts.

The current SSI based tax exemption is meaningless and an income based senior exemption will include any SSI recipients.

Respectfully

Rick Schiller, Piedmont Resident

Att: May 4, 2018 AUSD Press Release

Jan 5 2019

The sole new item on the City Council agenda for Monday, January 7 is the possibility of a School Resource Police Officer (SRO).  (Read the agenda  here.)  A number of communities have considered the SRO program and some have implemented SROs. There is a national organization of School Resource Police Officers –read NASRO explanation of the program here.

The New York Times Sunday, January 6 Magazine cover article focuses on the reporting by SROs to various law enforcement entities, including reporting students to ICE.  ” Schools with large populations of black and Latino students are more likely to have a resource officer than schools that are majority white.  … President Trump called for police officers on every campus. …In January 2018 in Houston, ICE detained a high schooler with a 3.4 G.P.A. after a school resource officer wrote him up for fighting with another student.

Advocates suggest that School Resource Officers serve as counselors, role models, and advocates for students, families, faculty, and staff, while bringing security to school campuses. School Resource Officers are a recognized and approachable resource for students and faculty during and after school, at school events, and during investigations that have a tie to school campuses and activities.  In addition to being available on campus to quickly respond to emergency situations, SROs can be a valuable resource for students, parents, teachers and administration regarding law enforcement related issues. Enforcement is not the expectation of the School Resource Officers, in fact the main objective is to help the student avoid the criminal justice system by employing the principles of restorative justice. School Resource Officers heavily focus in the area of prevention. The officers give presentations in classrooms, talk with students in the hallways, building relationships and alert to problems.  These relationships establish important lines of communication that help to prevent crime and school violence.

PUSD Superintendent Randall Booker and Piedmont Police Chief Jeremy Bowers have been discussing a dedicated police position assigned to SRO duty as part of the implementation of the “Safe School Plan.”  On Wednesday, November 14, 2018 the Piedmont Unified School District Board of Education (PUSD) discussed the proposed Police SRO.  This specially trained police officer would combine a unique combination and unusual set of skills: counselor, teacher, social worker, and law enforcement professional. As a counselor, this police officer would support students and staff. As a teacher, the officer would give classroom presentations and educate students on the police. As a social worker, the officer would help resolve conflicts within the school community. Furthermore, the ultimate goal of this position would be to  improve the overall safety of our schools.  (Read the staff report complete with statement of duties and skills here.)

Council meeting Monday,  January 7, 2019, 7:30  p.m. City Hall, 120 Vista Avenue.  The meeting will be broadcast live on Cable Channel 27 and on the City website under videos.