Jan 16 2020

No Digital Gadget Exposure for Kids of Tech Elite

Many Silicon Valley leaders prohibit exposure of their children to digital gadgets, including iPads, smartphones and even banning use by their nannies while at work.  Several current reports suggest why these parents are making this choice.

The National Education Policy Center at University of Colorado, Boulder, found “self-interested advocacy by the technology industry” as a factor in investing in installing and using digital devices in classrooms.

Personalized Learning and the Digital Privatization of Curriculum and Teaching   Faith Boninger, Alex Molnar, and Christopher Saldaña    Read more here.

Researchers have now produced actual evidence questioning the use of digital gadgets in schools.  Quotes from the report in the January/February 2020 Massachusetts Institute of Technology Technology Review:

“Teachers don’t know much about how well digital tools work, but they support using them.”

“Most students in the US are using ed tech tools every day.”

“College students who used laptops or digital devices did worse on exams.”

“Eighth graders who took Algebra I online did much worse than those who took the course in person.”

To read the whole article  (online by subscription only) and see the data and charts begin on page 18 of the paper January/February 2020 Massachusetts Institute of Technology Technology Review.

Dec 5 2019

Special Piedmont Unified School District Board Workshop 

on Student Stress (AP and Honors Courses, Homework, Grades, College Admissions):

Monday, December 9, 2019

3:30 pm – 6:30 pm

760 Magnolia Avenue, Piedmont School District Conference Room

OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

For more information, contact 510/594-2607

Dec 5 2019

On Wednesday, November 18th, I went to my first Recreation Commission meeting. I am a student at Piedmont High School and I had to do something that contributed to government in some way for my Civics Class. I honestly thought it was going be pretty boring, but I was happily surprised.

The Recreation Commission meets once a month. They deal with all matters pertaining to public recreation, including parks, playgrounds,etc.  More specifically, they deal with maintaining and creating areas in Piedmont. In the meeting I attended, they talked about Pickleball and maintenance of Coaches Field. 

Two of my Friends, my brother and I left for the meeting and arrived at 8:00 PM. We took the seats in the back and waited for the members of the commission to get started. There were 7 commissioners and 5 other people who attended the meeting. The commission was led by Steve Roland.  He directed the meeting.

It started off with Jackson Sterns talking about sports programs struggling to get kids involved. Dick Carter, a commissioner, mentioned the poor conditions of Witter Field, specifically the turf, which is poorly maintained.

The main meeting topic was a discussion of Pickleball. One of the people attending the meeting complained about there not being enough time to play because of the lights turning off too quickly. He also talked about how Pickleball and tennis players were getting along pretty well. Pickleball has exploded and become very popular.

During this time, we decided to go up and speak. My friend, Holden, spoke about water polo. My brother, Pierce St.Claire, Georgie Brayer, and I talked about the conditions of Witter Field. All of us have played sports and used Witter Field extensively during our time in the Piedmont School system. The field is clearly overdue for serious maintenance.

It was super fun talking and attending the meeting. I enjoyed the various subjects and learning about the growth of PickleBall.

While we were able to communicate our concerns about Witter Field, We didn’t realize that it was actually a School Board issue, not under the jurisdiction of the Recreation Commission. Even though we didn’t go about it conventionally, the commission was happy that we attended and they were really respectful to our blunder.

I found the experience to be very educational.  I learned a lot about public meetings and forums and I am very glad to have attended!

Robert St.Claire, Piedmont High School Senior

Nov 12 2019

Parcel tax measures G+H were on the November 5 ballot and passed with strong margins. We are grateful for the continued support this community has given to our schools.

We are especially grateful to G+H campaign chairs Hilary Cooper, Doug Ireland, and Christine Wente von Metzsch who graciously stepped in to lead the campaign. This win is a direct reflection of their tireless effort in setting the vision, rallying the volunteers, and filling in to work on the ground whenever necessary. They were wonderful ambassadors to talk up what is remarkable about our school district.

A successful campaign needs boots on the ground. Thank you to the myriad volunteers who heeded the call for help by showing up for phone banks, neighborhood walks, and other as needed duties.This campaign relied on hours and hours of volunteer time, and each week a cohort of G+H supporters gave their own talents and energy.

Another big thank you to Larry Tramutola, June Monach, and Christian Garcia for yet another Piedmont campaign to which they provided their expertise, common sense, wisdom, and energy. Our community is very lucky that Larry and June call Piedmont home, and we have benefitted many times over from their talents and support.

And last, but never least, thank you to the educators in our learning community, our teachers, staff, and administrators. They are dedicated to their vocation, skilled craftspeople who are on the front line every day to teach and nurture our children and build them into responsible citizens. They model what it means to be life-long learners in their willingness to learn new skills and share what they know. These measures passed because this community recognizes and appreciates their talents and energy.

To borrow from Mr. Rogers, “We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say, ‘It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.’ Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.”

Thank you, Piedmont, for sharing in this responsibility!

PUSD Board of Education Sarah Pearson, Megan Pillsbury, Cory Smegal, Amal Smith, and Andrea Swenson

Nov 11 2019

The Alameda County Registrar of Voters corrected their  previously published information found on the County website.  Piedmont has 8,609 registered voters of which over 7,000 are permanent vote by mail voters.

The tally shows that 51.35% of Piedmont voters or 4,421 voted at the Special School Parcel Tax Election November 5, 2019 on  Measures G & H. On Measure G 4,394 Piedmonters cast a vote and on Measure H 4,410 votes were cast.

Total Piedmont Registration:8,609

Turnout

Percentage

Vote by Mail Reporting Ballots Cast

3,764

43.72 %

Election Day Reporting Ballots Cast

657

7.63 %

Total Ballots Cast

4,421

51.35 %

Measure G

YES                3,655             82.88%

NO                     755              17.12%

Measure H

YES               3,269              74.40%

NO                  1,125              25,60%

The number of spoiled or disqualified ballots, over votes and under votes has not been reported. The election will be formally certified soon. Voters approval of Measures G and H will not change.

 11/11/2019 

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 5 2019

Piedmont voters cast their votes on Measures G and H at the November 5, 2019 Special Election for the Piedmont Unified School District parcel taxes.  Both Measures G and H readily received the required 2/3 rds (66 2/3%) approval by those voting continuing the Piedmont tradition of strong local support for Piedmont schools. Approval for the measures was:

82.69% for Measure G  

74.34% for Measure H

Measure G is essentially a continuation of the existing parcel tax of $2,763 per year per parcel with a likely 2% increase each year over the eight year term of the measure.

Measure H is a new and additional flat tax based on the habitable space on each parcel in Piedmont taxed at 25 cents per square foot of improved habitable space on a parcel during the eight year term of the measure.

Community volunteers supporting the measures, primarily  parents of students, made an all out effort to personally contact each Piedmont voter, in addition to sending several glossy mailers to all voting households explaining the reasons to support the measures for the schools. Lawn signs for G & H were placed throughout the city. 

No opposition was officially filed against the measures, although opposition was explained through various media sources, including editorial disapproval by some regional newspapers emphasizing funding disparities with other school districts. 

Concern was also expressed over the demands placed on taxpayers, particularly seniors, and the fact that the parcel taxes under new federal tax laws were unlikely to be tax deductible. 

Voting results based on those voting:

 YES   3,416   82.69%    NO   715   17.31 %

H   YES   3,059  74.34%     NO  1,056  25.66%

There are 8,647 voters in Piedmont, of which 7,066 are permanent vote by mail voters, or 81.7 % of the Piedmont voters. Over 4,000 Piedmont voters cast their ballots on November 5, 2019 making the turnout by voters close to 50%.  A small number of provisional ballots are yet to be counted.  Updated 11/8/19

~~~~~~~~~~

UPDATE: NOVEMBER 8, 2019 – The following percentage of  Piedmont voters is incorrect, as reported by the Alameda County Registrar of Voters. For no known reasons, the Registrar combined voters in Dublin with those in Piedmont, therefore disregard the following data.

Alameda County Registrar of Voters Reported:

Total Voter Registration per Alameda County Registrar of Voters: 13,259 [Incorrect, as this reports Piedmont and Dublin voters. ]

      Turnout     Percentage

Vote by Mail Reporting Ballots Cast

      4,324

      32.61 %

Election Day Reporting Ballots Cast

          477

        3.60 %

Total Ballots Cast

      4,801

      36.21%

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

Measure G, essentially a renewal of the existing parcel tax, is based on $2,763 annual tax per parcel that can be increased by 2% every year during its 8 year term  by the Piedmont Board of Education.

Measure H is a new, additional annual fixed rate school parcel tax of 25 cents for each habitable square foot of building space on each parcel.

————————–

Piedmont voters can cast their absentee ballots free with the US Postal Service or drop their ballots in the ballot box on Highland Way next to the Wells Fargo Bank in central Piedmont OR follow the instructions on their Voter Information Guide for specific instructions on where to vote in person.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Questions have arisen regarding the cost of the Special Election for the Piedmont School Parcel Tax.  The cost of running the election according to Superintendent of Schools Randall Booker is expected to be approximately $125,000. 

Questions have also arisen regarding why the School District is seeking renewal of the existing parcel tax at special expense when the current tax does not expire until June 2021.  It has been explained as an attempt to determine in a timely manner how much money the District will have to fund the education program. 

The deductibility of the school parcel taxes from Federal Income Taxes is unlikely if other taxes combined will exceed $10,000. Seek advice from tax preparers. 

Details of the School Board’s many reasons for asking Piedmonters to approve Measures G and H are in the Voter Information Guide provided to every Piedmont voter.

Don’t forget to vote – Tuesday, November 5, 2019!

READ Prior PCA article:  >HERE

Editors Note: 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.