Sep 5 2018
Let’s Talk Meeting

The Piedmont community met on August 26th to discuss diversity in our city. The meeting was put on by the Piedmont Appreciating Diversity Committee and led by the Let’s Talk program produced by K12 Insight and Sarah Wicht.

The organization’s mission is to foster discussions and acknowledgement of community diversity. The purpose of this forum was to talk about diversity in the schools and the community in general.

The focus of the dialogue was to explore ways for parents to engage their children in this topic of race, gender and identity. The leader of this session was Sara Wicht who is an educational consultant with over 20 years of anti-bias educational experience. Her main tenets are fourfold, that of identity, action, diversity and justice.

The main goals of the meeting were to discuss how our identities influence our actions, celebrate diversity, build understanding for community engagement and learn the tools necessary to have productive discussions on equity topics relevant to Piedmont.

This meeting is held twice a year on consecutive weekend days. The meeting is organized into morning and afternoon sessions. The morning session is arranged to identify our personal opinions and identities, engage in diversity discussions, and learn how to have these discussions without offending or avoiding hard issues.

After lunch we got back together to form an action plan for our community. We engaged in discussion relying on our own opinions. Following this, we practiced learning to listen to opposing views and then to try to come to a resolution on the subject discussed. The format was very productive.

The specific topics were introduced using case studies. In one scenario we discussed hypothetical dialogues between neighbors of different races and some implicit bias that may come through in those interactions.

In another role playing example an Asian student with the highest grade was selected to be a tutor for the math class but the teacher was concerned that because he was the only Asian person, he would feel uncomfortable. Both examples produced productive dialogue surrounding this difficult topic.

The meeting brought out active members of the community mostly in favor of more diversity and awareness. One Piedmont resident offered that “PC shouldn’t be considered as politically correct but rather politely considerate”. This sentiment presented the viewpoint that we shouldn’t be avoiding the topic of race in the classroom or community but rather be considerate when discussing this subject.

Another attendee, a special education teacher who works with children as young as 5, spoke on her experience in the schools, “The district offers professional development opportunities as a way to increase our paycheck and knowledge….Let’s Talk offers ways to talk to kids about diversity”, and held the opinion that the subject of race should be open in the classroom and not held in the same regard as curse words and sex as taboo for topics to teach little kids. I believe that this subject of race and implicit bias is an important matter to continue to include in our classes and should be discussed openly.

by Caroline Kraetzer, Piedmont High School Senior

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On Sunday, August 26th, I attended the Let’s Talk Workshop sponsored by the Piedmont Unified School District, the Piedmont Appreciating Diversity Committee, and the City of Piedmont. The main goal of this workshop was to put residents of Piedmont in an environment where they are forced to talk about diversity or lack thereof in Piedmont. To do this, discussion was mainly focused around 4 central themes: identity, diversity, justice, and action.

People are put into small groups, where they can discuss questions posed by the leader of the session, Sara Wicht, in a more informal manner. After every group is completed, people are then asked to share what their group had talked about with everyone else attending the session. This was an effective way to hear the voice of everyone who attended while not necessarily listening to everyone speak.

In addition to participating in discussions about diversity, attendees also do various activities, each with the purpose of letting people look at the issues discussed from a new perspective. We were asked to figure out what the most important part of our identity is to us, to analyze implicit bias in certain situations, and even mirror exactly what another person is doing.. When we talked about implicit bias, I realized that it is something that happens all around me, all the time. People all around me are unconsciously judging people even when they mean the best. I believe that in order to stop this kind of thing from happening, people must first acknowledge that they are doing it. Having this opinion and speaking with other people about it didn’t scare me at all. In general, the environment was very safe and almost everyone was able to speak about their own opinions.

Throughout the meeting, I had the pleasure of sitting with Piedmont City Councilmember Jen Cavenaugh. She was one of the organizers for the event and feels very strongly about addressing these issues as a town. Cavenaugh believes that talking about diversity and brainstorming ideas about how to improve it in Piedmont is a great step towards positive change. She tries to make sure that each of her family members come to at least one session every weekend this meeting happens, which is at least once a year.

One topic that we discussed were the 8 aspects of identity. We were asked to cross off “unimportant” parts until we narrowed in on the one thing that explains us. I had a difficult time understanding this exercise.

To me, each of the 8 aspects: gender, sexual orientation, race, socioeconomic status, nationality, home language, religion, and ability all contribute to my identity. There is no one of them that completely encompasses my personality. I brought this up in my small group discussion and again later to the big group, and in general, people seemed to agree with me. It was cool to see that my words actually made an impact on other people’s thoughts or opinions.

All in all, attending this workshop was a good experience. I got to learn more about my neighbors and about the issues that Piedmont faces as a town. I think spending my Sunday morning there was valuable and I would recommend it to anyone who is contemplating attending the next one.

By Robin Disco, Piedmont High School Senior

Sep 5 2018
Citizens of Piedmont attended the Let’s Talk Workshop that took place on Saturday, August 25, 2018,  to gain a new understanding of the community they live in and the social aspects involved.

The leader of the Let’s Talk sessions, Sara Wicht, began this first morning session with a mirror activity. In this activity, everyone in the room had to find a partner that they had not talked to that day. The partners decided who would be partner A, and who would be partner B. The direction were for partner B to mirror every motion that partner A made, and then after a minute, the partners would switch roles.

After, a group reflection was held where people could share what they were feeling as they were both the leader and the follower. Many people who had to be the leader the first round said that there was a lot of pressure to lead, and that it was much easier for them to be the follower. They said that as a follower, you have one objective, to follow, but as a leader you constantly have to think about what you are doing and what you are going to do next. I, however, felt that it was easier for me to be the leader once I felt comfortable with my partner. I was partner B, so I had a minute to feel comfortable with my partner before I made him mirror my motions.

After the reflection, Wicht compared the leading and following to that of two people having a conversation. If the follower does not pay attention for even a second because they get distracted or are already thinking up a response before the leader is finished, it can throw the whole conversation off. It is important, in a conversation, for everyone to have a chance to be a leader, and for everyone to be a loyal follower once their leading is over.

Next, each table group talked about which goal was most important for each individual out of the goals Wicht provided for the session. The goals were to demonstrate self-awareness, confidence, family pride, and positive social identity.

Then, transitioning more onto the topic of identity, Wicht led an activity in which she told the group to make a list of 8 things. Each one was a different part of one’s identity; race, nationality, gender, socio-economic class, religion, sexual orientation, and ethnicity.

Then, without giving the participants much time to think in between, they had to eliminate a part of their identity which they found the least defining of who they are until they were left with just one. The table groups debriefed on how it felt to have to eliminate a part of their identity, and whether it was easy or not. Wicht then brought the group back together and said that if you take away a part of you, even if it is not a huge part of your identity, you still will not be you anymore.

“This is a really important issue for this town,” participant Diana Miller said. “We’re in such a bubble here, and Oakland is just right there, and we have so much that we need to do to help improve our minds and our outlooks and our communication and our relationships with people who are not like ourselves, and anything that I can do to make that happen, I’m gonna try.”

Wicht then transitioned into race, focusing on how you see the world, and how the world sees you. She said that a sense of race is developed at a really young age, and therefore there is no time “too early” to start talking about it.

“Silence perpetuates racism,” Wicht said.

Wicht then brought up the idea of implicit bias, and how it is unconscious or automatic. She presented situations, and the group was to determine whether there was implicit bias involved. The groups reflection afterwards was that the situations were too vague and without enough context to just assume that implicit bias was in fact involved in each of the decisions of the people in the situations. It can be with bad intentions, but first we have to see it from every perspective.

“I got some level of satisfaction sitting with students who have the world ahead of them,” Miller said. “There is a lot of mind opening that happened that I think we may not even realize and I think some change has happened in the last three hours.”

by Roni Schacker, Piedmont High School Senior

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Let’s Talk!
Last Sunday I attended one of the “Let’s Talk” seminars that was supported and run bythe Piedmont Unified School District (PUSD) and Piedmont Appreciating Diversity Committee (PADC). The seminar was run by Sara Wicht, who has taught all over the world, including Rio De Janeiro, Minnesota, and California to name a few.

Normally throughout the year PADC and PUSD will have 2-4 Let’s Talk seminars. Other speakers there included Jen Cavenaugh, a Piedmont City Council member, and Randall Booker, Superintendent of PUSD.

The main goal of the meeting was to navigate polarization and find out what Piedmont as a community can do to combat it. The suggested solution was to learn how to discuss opposing arguments respectfully and effectively. Ms. Wicht also stressed that when discussing these issues we must make sure the person does not feel excluded or like an outcast.

First, Ms. Wicht showed us the main parts of a conversation and how they can be kept civil instead of argumentative. She stated that the best way to keep a conversation civil is to, “Ask yourself what you are trying to learn and accept the other side, even if you do not agree.” A conversation is broken into seven different parts that include intention, approach, opener, sparks, reciprocity, exits, and reflection.

Throughout the seminar at our table groups we discussed how to make each part the most respectful and beneficial for each person. As a group we acknowledged that the most important tip for all of these parts of conversations is to be accepting and understand that you do not need change the other’s point of view.

Following the table discussions about conversations, Ms. Wicht pulled everyone back together to talk about “Modeling neighborly behavior.” She considered this to be the second most important part of diversity awareness and inclusion. Examples of neighborly behavior include celebrating diversity, gathering neighbors at public events/discussions, sending inclusive signals to neighbors, and listening to personal experiences.

One of the other people at my table was Megan Pillsbury. Ms. Pillsbury had heard great things about the “Let’s Talk” meetings but this was her first time in attendance.  She came because she felt that she should be a part of this movement for more inclusiveness and diversity awareness. On top of that she was is going to run for School Board and as part of her campaign she wants to take steps to create a more inclusive community.

Previous to her campaign Ms. Pillsbury taught for over fifteen years at Wildwood Elementary School. She wanted to come because she saw that many of her classes were not as diverse as she expected. Ms. Pillsbury hopes to be elected to the school board and take action by promoting diversity awareness for all ages throughout the PUSD school system.

Personally, I thought the seminar was very engaging. It gave me lots of helpful tips for engaging in beneficial conversations when discussing political differences or diversity. Compared to many of the people there, I would say I have more conservative views. During many of the discussion portions I had lots of different ideas than the majority of the people at the table. However, everyone was respectful, accepting and willing to listen, which was really great to see. I would definitely recommend that you check out one of Ms. Wicht’s talks.

by Daryl Tjogas, Piedmont HIgh School Senior

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Let’s Talk!

Last weekend in Piedmont, Piedmont City Council and Piedmont Unified School District held a workshop called “Let’s Talk!.” The workshop is being held on four different weekends throughout the year in the Piedmont Veterans Hall with four sessions each time.

The goal for “Let’s Talk!” is to build a more inclusive Piedmont through conversations with the residents. The workshop attacks problems such as: racial equality, the importance of conversation, and how to build communities.

“Let’s Talk!” promotes attacking these problems with conversation. The workshop teaches people how to listen and respond to ideas that they might not agree with and do so in a respectful and constructive way.

“Let’s Talk” teaches a four step refutation to counter an idea one doesn’t agree with. The four steps are: restate, refute, support, and conclude. This is an effective strategy to argue with someone while still respecting their opinion.

I attended the August 26th workshop. During the workshop, the attendees were put into small groups so they could participate and apply all the skills we learned. This format allowed everyone to practice using the skills we learned and then apply them in the community.

The people in attendance were people who live and work in Piedmont. The people that showed up were people who were looking to share some of their stories and people who were looking to make a difference in their community.

The workshop was filled with many activities to help teach people how to have conversations about difficult subjects. The activities were split between small groups and the whole group. In an activity with the whole group I shared an example of how to practice the four step refutation on how Piedmont High School needs a remodel. After I shared I was reaffirmed by the group that I had mastered the skills they were teaching.

Charlie Richards, a resident of Piedmont who attended the workshop in search of a place that will help build community in Piedmont, claims, “in the community of Piedmont there is comparative wealth and the comparative wealth breeds an independence…creating isolation in the community.” Richards attended the meeting to learn ways to help Piedmont strengthen its community because he feels like Piedmont is divided by ageism and classism.

In the workshop classism was brought up as a major problem for the city because with the lack of diversity, racism is amplified.

All the people in attendance were very supportive and accepting of the varying opinions presented in workshop. Toward the end of the workshop we went over ways to build a more inclusive community using movies, art, and signals of inclusiveness.

All in all “Let’s Talk” taught me and the people of Piedmont that problems such as racism and community building can be improved through the use of conversation.

By Paul Woolcott, Piedmont High School Senior

Aug 30 2018

New Piedmont School Year Brings Foundation Funding and Hiring Crisis at PHS –

On Tuesday, August 21st, the Piedmont School Board held its bi-monthly meeting at City Hall, kicking off the School Board meetings for the 2018 school year.

The agenda was split between the usual items at the beginning of every school year and reports on some of the issues that the School District is already facing.

The meeting began with Piedmont Unified School District (PUSD) Board of Education President Sarah Pearson inviting the representative of the teachers’ union, Mr. Kessler, to deliver the union’s remarks on the upcoming school year. He brought up the “palpable energy” of the new school year, the new initiatives in the Middle School, and the excitement in the new teachers. He requested that the administration and School Board have more faith in the teachers’ methods and allow them more autonomy.

Heather Frank, Executive Director of the Piedmont Education Foundation, presented the Giving Campaign’s annual check to the Piedmont Unified School District. The check was a record-breaking $2,708,421 with $1.4 million dollars dedicated to keeping class sizes smaller.

Board Member Amal Smith commented, “Due to the fact that our state budget is being continually cut, without the efforts of the Piedmont Education Foundation, the District would simply be unable to run.”

The Board opened the Public Forum when attendees could address items not on the agenda.  Senior Casey Lane spoke about her grant request for the Diversity Awareness Club. Mentioning that teenagers are basically dogs and follow food,  and she requested that the Board consider the grant in order to continue fostering diversity in Piedmont. The Board in response thanked her for taking charge of such an important action in Piedmont High School.

As Casey was the only speaker not on the agenda, the Board took up its regular agenda with the confirmation of the new Piedmont High School Director of Athletics, Alphonso Powell.  Superintendent Randall Booker introduced Mr. Powell and commented on his vast experience in the Oakland and San Francisco school districts.  Booker ended by saying “That he was most impressed by Mr. Powell’s experience of teaching in a classroom, a rare trait for an Athletics Director.”  Unsurprisingly, the Board approved Alphonso Powell for Athletic Director on a 5-0 vote.

Superintendent Randall Booker provided the Board with insight on the teacher shortage in Piedmont. He listed nine major vacancies at the beginning of the school year and so far five of them have been filled. He explained the reason for the shortage was the exorbitant Bay Area rent, a lack of qualified teachers and every school district fighting over the few qualified candidates that are left. He ended by asking the Board for patience, as while the District could throw anyone into a classroom and call them a teacher, he is making sure that they do the necessary background checks on any candidate before hiring them.

Personally, I believe that the school hasn’t properly communicated any of the issues with hiring to the students and are focusing far too much on new long-term initiatives and not enough on our current students.  As a student, I would love more than anything else to have smaller class sizes and fewer overworked teachers.  Both problems have only worsened this year.

Before the meeting, I had interviewed Superintendent Randall Booker on the hiring crisis and asked how he was communicating the issues brought up with the Board to the students. He responded, “The administration are doing their best to email parents and students in the affected classes and provide updates.”

I then asked him about alternatives to having substitutes who are unable to teach the classes. In response, he commented that, “The school is looking for any possible part-time teachers until a permanent replacement can be found and in the worst-case scenario, the school is looking at online classes that the students can use through their Chromebooks.”  Mr. Booker’s thoughts reflect the administration’s continued efforts to try and appease parents and students, while finding qualified teachers.

On a more cheerful note, Randall Booker showed the Board a video of the first day of school at all six schools. While without a doubt the elementary school kids were cuter than the high schoolers, the video was heartwarming at every school.

The Board meeting ended with each Board Member adding their personal thoughts on the upcoming school year. Of note was Cory Smegal’s comment on Mr. Booker’s keynote presentation. She complimented him on bringing the teachers, faculty and administration together with his speech on working as one team for the children in the District.

After those comments, the Board adjourned at 8:30, managing to end a half hour early despite the busy schedule and hectic start to the school year.

By Sam Orta, Piedmont High School Senior

Aug 23 2018

Piedmont high school is in need of substitute or permanent part or full-time physics teachers.

The following is an excerpt from Principal Adam Littlefield’s email sent to parents.

In the past, Piedmont Unified has attracted qualified candidates, for several reasons: Board Policy allows District employees to enroll their children in Piedmont Schools, high academic expectations, and competitive salary/benefits.

The teacher shortage is real. There are simply not enough credentialed teachers for the jobs that are available. Districts across the Bay Area are all fighting for the same candidates. The cost of living in the Bay Area is extreme.

Over the spring/summer, our district lost eight experienced teachers due to financial hardship/move out-of-state decisions.The District lost three additional teachers due to wanting a shorter commute for either equal or slightly higher of pay.

Teacher pay across the Bay Area (and State) is not keeping up with the cost of living. This is forcing many teachers to look at other professions or to simply leave the Bay Area.

While prospective candidates may want to teach in Piedmont, just a couple of thousand dollars difference in salary can result in a candidate choosing a different district.

I need your help. One of the things I appreciate about the Piedmont community is your resourcefulness. Many of you have connections and some of you may know of prospective physics teachers. While there are credential requirements, there are also allowances for creativity and flexibility. I appreciate you casting a wide net over your friends, colleagues, and acquaintances asking prospective physics teachers to contact me by phone at (510) 594-2625 or email at alittlefield@piedmont.k12.ca.us.

Adam Littlefield, Principal Piedmont High School

Aug 9 2018

PIEDMONT UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT PRESS RELEASE
August 9, 2018

On August 9, 2018, the Piedmont Unified School District announced the selection of Alphonso Powell as the new Director of Athletics for Piedmont High School and Millennium High School. Mr. Powell has extensive coaching experience, as well as an impressive background in Athletic Administration.

Mr. Powell has served as the Executive Director of Athletics and Activities for the Oakland Unified School District since 2015. During that time he also was the CIF Commissioner for the Oakland Section and Oakland Athletic League. Mr. Powell was instrumental in increasing athletics across Oakland schools, as well as establishing middle school athletic programs to provide extra-curricular activities and increase opportunities for athletic participation.

Mr. Powell has served as an athletic coach for over 25 years. He has been a head coach in football, basketball, wrestling, and soccer, as well as a varsity assistant coach in football, basketball, baseball, and tennis. He led Fremont High School to six consecutive winning seasons and two Silver Bowl appearances. He has also coached football at the Community College level.

Mr. Powell played four sports while attending Cordova High School, winning Metro League titles in football and basketball. He played football at Sacramento City College, where he was a member of the Panther’s 1989 Camino Del Norte Conference championship team.

He also has extensive experience as an educator at the school site and in the classroom. Prior to his role as the Executive Director of Athletics and Activities for the Oakland Unified School District, Mr. Powell was an Assistant Principal for six years at Father Keith B. Kenny K-8 School in Sacramento—a public K-8 school in the Sacramento Unified School District.

He was also the Director of Student Athletics, Curriculum and Academic Achievement for the Twin Rivers Unified School District and a Special Education Teacher in the Grant Joint Union High School District.

Mr. Powell attended California State University, East Bay, where he received his Bachelor’s of Science in Recreation Administration. He received his Level II Education Specialist Credential from Project Pipeline and his Administrative Services Credential from California State University, Sacramento.

PHS Principal Adam Littlefield coordinated the recruitment and selection process. Administrators, teaching staff, coaching staff, members of the PHS Athletic Boosters, the City of Piedmont’s Recreation Director, and a student representative participated in the interviews.

PHS Principal Adam Littlefield commented, “The Piedmont High School and Millennium High School communities are fortunate to have a new Director of Athletics with Mr. Powell’s experience. His attitude, skills, and knowledge will serve as the foundation for a successful athletics program. I am excited to have him as a member of our administrative team.”

“Mr. Powell brings incredible coaching, teaching, and athletic administration experience for our student-athletes, coaches, and Piedmont Community,” Superintendent Randall Booker commented. “I’m really looking forward to working with him and know that our athletic community will truly benefit from his leadership.”

The District’s Director of Athletics is responsible for: recruiting, hiring, supervising, and evaluating 175 coaches; developing and overseeing the Athletic Department budget; monitoring student eligibility; serving as the school representative of the Western Alameda County Conference; partnering with the PHS Athletic Boosters; coordinating team schedules, transportation, equipment, and supplies for 49 teams; and ensuring a safe and supportive program for over 500 student athletes. The Director of Athletics, which is a full-time administrative position funded jointly by the District and the Piedmont Education Foundation, requires a coaching certification. The position was broadly advertised, and there were 25 applicants.

Mr. Powell will start in this position on August 21, 2018, at an annual salary of $106,139.

 

Aug 9 2018

At the November 6, 2018 General Election, Amal Smith seeks re-election to the Piedmont School Board  –

Amal Smith

Piedmont school board member Amal Smith filed candidate nomination papers for one of the open seats on the Board of Education in the November 2018 election. Amal was elected to the board in 2014 after serving as an active volunteer in the school community for almost 14 years, ranging from classroom volunteer to leadership roles on parent club boards and the Piedmont Educational Foundation.

Ms. Smith and her husband, Rick, moved their family to Piedmont in 1998. They have two sons: Connor who works in San Francisco after graduating from Vanderbilt University, and Luke, a senior at University of Texas in Austin. “The idea of community and community work is very important to me. I have a deep interest in building and supporting community, especially this one where we were able to establish roots and raise our sons. It has been a real privilege and honor to work with the smart and thoughtful people who support our community and its schools,” she explained.

“I have almost 20 years of volunteer service and with every year of service, I learn more and more about how things work in our district: the rules, the finances, the partnerships, the people, the context in which decisions are made,” she said. In addition to her current tenure on the school board, Ms. Smith has extensive volunteer experience. She was active in the Beach Elementary School community, serving as president, vice president, and treasurer, as well as a volunteer for the Parent Educator and Meet the Masters programs. She served for six years on the Piedmont Educational Foundation board, serving on the grants committee, as treasurer for three years, and president for two years. She was treasurer for two years on the PHS Parents Club, a member of the PHS Wellness Center Advisory Board, and a facilitator for the Piedmont Parent Network. She was a member of the District’s Budget Advisory Committee for 10 years, and a volunteer on school parcel tax and bond measure campaigns.

“My primary priorities are to continue to hold a strategic, long-term perspective to build and sustain an educational program—from the sciences to the liberal arts—that gives all our students a strong academic base, intellectual curiosity, and skills to meet career goals and life challenges; attracting, developing, and retaining excellent teachers and district leaders; and on-going strong fiscal stewardship, including thoughtful and judicious oversight and implementation of the H1 school facilities bond program.”

Ms. Smith is currently the Associate Dean for Finance at the UCSF School of Medicine. She has almost 30 years of experience in higher education consulting and administration, including budget and resource allocation; financial analysis, management, and reporting; strategic planning and change management; and compliance, controls, and accountability. She has a BA in Psychology from UCLA, and a MBA from USC.

“During her service on the school board, Amal has shown her commitment to our children’s education. She combines a drive for high achievement with concern for student well-being, and applies her financial expertise to manage the district’s budget constraints,” says former school board president Rick Raushenbush, a member of Ms. Smith’s campaign committee. Her campaign committee also includes Hilary Cooper, Charlotte Ero, Cathie Geddeis, Anne-Marie Lamarche, Conna McCarthy, June Monach, and Rick Smith. Doug Ireland, Valerie Matzger, and Sue Smegal are the campaign committee honorary co-chairs.

Editors’ Note:  The Piedmont Civic Association welcomes information and comments  on candidates for public office.  PCA does not support or oppose any candidates.
Jul 19 2018

Now is the time for Piedmonters to step up and seek election to the City Council and Board of Education.  Candidates are needed to fill available seats and guarantee an active and informative election.

Council members recently stated they wanted more and different Piedmonters to seek election to the City Council instead of formerly elected Council members who might be better known.  The Council wanted more citizens to have an opportunity to be elected to the City Council. During recent City Council discussions of the City Charter, the City Council specifically added a proposed provision limiting City Council members ability to seek a return to the Council until 8 years had intervened rather than four years, noting that more Piedmonters should have a chance to be elected.   

The time is now to be a candidate for City Council and Board of Education.  

The Board of Education, according to Piedmont staff, declined a proposed change to the City Charter to exclude former Board members’ as candidates for 8 years, thus former Board members would continue to be able to seek a return to the Board following a 4 year hiatus.  Apparently, there was no issue regarding former Board members seeking re-election to the Board of Education. 

Numerous potential candidates are Piedmonters who have been active on commissions, committees, as volunteers and activists proving they care about their community and its schools.    

There are 3 positions on the City Council and 2 positions on the School Board to be filled at the election on November 6, 2018.

Uncontested elections:

A number of Piedmont City Council and School Board elections have been uncontested in the past, meaning only enough candidates seek election to fill the open positions and all candidates are automatically elected to the positions they seek.  Uncontested elections engender less interest and little discussion of issues, as there is no competition or true election by voters.

ISSUES:

Some City Council issues:

  • potential new bond ballot measure for sports facilities
  • City Charter adherence 
  • zoning changes and construction regulations
  • taxation increases
  • garbage rates and contract terms
  • cell tower installations
  • police officers in schools
  • employee hiring and oversight
  • facility improvements
  • citizen involvement – open participatory processes
  • road and sidewalk repairs
  • fire and emergency safety
  • environmental matters

Some School Board issues:

  • school construction within constraints of  bond funding limits
  • student population changes
  • revenues sufficient to support operations and programs
  • comparisons to other public and private schools
  • school safety
  • police officers in schools
  • taxation increases
  • community engagement and participation through information to community
  • personnel selections
  • prompt responses to students and parents concerns
  • communications between school and home
  • community use of school facilities
  • environmental matters

The time to begin the process is now.

Those interested in Piedmont elective office must act before  the August 10 deadline in completing and filing the necessary paperwork to be a candidate in the November 6, 2018 election.

Candidates need to contact the City Clerk at 420-3040 for an appointment to receive filing information including taking out and returning candidate paperwork.  The session with the City Clerk is projected to take one hour. 

Procedures for Candidate’s

The City of Piedmont will hold its General Municipal Election on November 6, 2018. The nomination period for the three (3) vacancies on the Piedmont City Council and two (2) vacancies on the Board of Education opened on Monday, July 16th. The deadline for submitting completed paperwork is:

Friday, August 10th at 5:00 p.m.  with the City Clerk at Piedmont City Hall, 120 Vista Avenue.

There is no cost to candidates to file for election.

The California Elections Code requires that nomination papers be issued in person to the prospective candidate at City Hall.

It is strongly recommended that residents wishing to take out or return candidate paperwork set an appointment with the City Clerk. 510/420-3040

This ensures prompt service for the candidate and allows the Clerk to devote full attention to the process. Residents without appointments will be seen on a time available basis and may be subject to interruption. Contact the Piedmont City Clerk at 510/420-3040. 

…………..

The Piedmont “Guide to Nomination and Candidacy” is > HERE.

STAFF REPORT ESTABLISHING ELECTION  > http://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/html/govern/staffreports/2018-06-18/electionprocedure.pdf

………….

If an incumbent does not file for re-election, of which there are 2 incumbents* for the 3 Council vacancies and 2 incumbents for the two Board of Education vacancies, the nomination period will be extended by 5 days as below:

– Elections Code Section 10225.

(a) Notwithstanding Sections 10220 and 10224, if nomination papers for an incumbent officer of the city are not filed by or on the 88th day before the election, during normal business hours, as posted, the voters shall have until the 83rd day before the election during normal business hours, as posted, to nominate candidates other than the person who was the incumbent on the 88th day, for that incumbent’s elective office.

  • *On the City Council there is presently an appointed Council member, who is not considered by law to be an incumbent (Section 13107), but who can seek one of the 3 vacant seats on the Council at the November 2018 Election.

If there is a tie vote Section 15651 shall apply:

In the event of a tie-vote for any office which is being voted on at such General Municipal Election, the provisions of Section 15651 of the California Elections Code, relating to determining the tie by lot, shall apply.

Residents with questions about the process or wishing to make an appointment should call the City Clerk’s office at (510) 420-3040.

Jul 5 2018

On the afternoon of June 19, 2018,  a City Council/School Board Liaison meeting was held.  Members of the School Board, City Council, and their staff members met at the Piedmont Unified School District (PUSD) Administrative Offices on Magnolia Avenue to discuss various issues, which included: upcoming summer facilities projects, H1 Bond projects, solid waste management education, recreational renovations, and school safety.

Present at the meeting were School representatives: Board Vice President, Amal Smith, Board Member, Andrea Swenson, Superintendent Randall Booker, Director of Facilities, Pete Palmer, and Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Cheryl Wozniak. Representatives from the City were Mayor Bob McBain and City Administrator Paul Benoit.

The meeting began with Booker introducing the agenda and starting off the conversation with updates on the H1 Bond measure and the issue of the various District Summer facilities projects.  These projects include climate control renovations to elementary school facilities and the rebuilding of the 30’s complex at Piedmont High School for the high school’s new STEAM building, with construction beginning in June of 2019 as part of the H1 Bond measure.

During the April 2019 Spring break, the real projects begin removing the Alan Harvey Theater and drainage work on Witter Field.

“We’re starting these summer renovations at Havens Elementary, where five classrooms on the top floor can reach as high as 90 degrees while teachers are instructing students,” said Palmer. “The new climate control systems we will be installing are some of the most efficient units available on the market.”

Palmer explained that the same climate control systems would be installed in certain classrooms at Beach and Wildwood Elementary schools that are also at risk for reaching high temperatures.

“These new highly efficient systems will allow us to cut energy costs, which means putting more money right back into schools and facilities,” said Booker.

The High School’s new STEAM building will have 7 new classrooms, expanding the capacity of the school’s computer lab facilities. Booker stressed the importance of adding these new classrooms and computer facilities because 50 students had to be turned away from the school’s computer program during the previous school year due to insufficient class space.

“It’s great that we have so many students interested in computer science; however; right now we just don’t have the space.  With these new facilities, we will be able to accommodate everyone,” said Booker.

Booker noted the School District was exploring options to install a new computer system that would cut down on the purchasing of expensive Computer Processing Units (CPU) by allowing as few as one control CPU unit to feed many students’ computer monitors without the need for them to have their own CPU unit.

Palmer related a break in the waterline under Wildwood Schoolmates, requiring a temporary waterline and the closing down of El Cerrito Avenue, as well as P.E Hill, in order to fix the break.

Witter Field will be closed during the installation of new LED field lights, which would be more directive, project less light on neighbors, and be better for player safety visibility. Palmer stated the installation should go quickly unless the current light structures are revealed to have rusted bolts or fixtures, in which case they would need to be cut and repaired during renovation.

Booker discussed the High School Master Plan beginning construction in March 1, 2019, when the closure, salvage and abatement of the Alan Harvey Theater will occur,  along with the closure and drainage renovation of Witter Field.

An inspector from Division of State Architects (DSA) will come to survey the Witter Field area and check its Americans with Disability Act  (ADA)  compliance.  Witter Field has areas of concern, such as the Wildwood steps leading down to the field, which are not ADA compliant, according to Booker.

A passing inspection regarding the ADA and approval from the state are necessary prior to construction, as clarified by Vice President Amal Smith.

City Administrator Paul Benoit addressed the issue of solid waste management.

“We only received one bidder for Piedmont’s solid waste contract. Waste Management as a firm did not want to do backyard service, and Piedmont doesn’t want to give up backyard service. We’ll be continuing to work with Republic Services as our contractor,” said Benoit.

In addition to the City’s new contract with Republic, Abbe and Associates, a green education and waste management consultant, will aid the community, including the schools, in environmental awareness and sustainable living.

When Vice President Smith raised questions as to expectations with Abbe, Benoit replied that the consulting firm’s community-wide involvement will be collaborative with no set expectations or requirements.

Mayor Bob McBain stated that Abbe would work in situations managing waste from City events like the Harvest Festival and everything Abbe does should be constructive leading to reduced waste and proper disposal.

“It’s not gonna work, if it is a burden to everyone,” McBain said.

There are pending renovations and resurfacing of several tennis courts.   Linda Beach Tennis courts are desired by Pickleball players. Pickleball is a hybrid game of tennis and ping pong. The Piedmont Pickleball Association rents the Linda Beach courts on certain weekdays from 9 a.m. to 12 noon for $12 an hour according to Benoit, and will continue to do so until school begins on August 13th.

Mayor McBain stated there is the possibility for the City and the Piedmont Pickleball Association to work together in order to resurface the Middle School courts to be used for the sport when not in use by the schools.

Benoit introduced the topic of School Safety which he stated was a big topic.  While School Safety was talked about at the staff level, thus far it had not received extensive discussion at the Council level. School Safety has risen in salience as the national climate around school shootings has intensified at an alarming rate.   There are uncertainties on how to move forward with this initiative in Piedmont, according to Benoit.

Superintendent Booker brought up the implementation of onsite security personnel in Piedmont schools.

“From experience and time spent with Albany High School, I found the presence of a police officer on campus an extremely effective and beneficial resource,” said Booker.

Booker went on to explain that the presence of a security person on campus at the High School, such as one on-duty soft uniform officer from the Piedmont Police Department, would be helpful. These resource officers in soft uniform, meaning they are wearing uniform pants and Piedmont Police Department polo shirts instead of a full patrol uniform, would receive very specific and intensive training to acclimate them to a campus environment. The resource officer would carry the same equipment that other police officers do on their belts, including a firearm.

“I would consider myself a strong advocate for the resource officer as a solution to school safety, as in my experience they are incredibly effective at communicating safety,” said Booker.

The resource officer would report to the Piedmont Chief of Police and the hope is that the officer costs would be paid half by the City and half by the School District.

McBain emphasized the need for the City to find the money for the resource officer and introduce the idea to the community.

Benoit informed the attendees that the City is actively recruiting for a new Fire Chief.

Report by Joe Creason, Journalism Intern

Jun 10 2018

NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING ON INTENT TO ENTER INTO CONTRACT  FOR CONSTRUCTION OF  ENERGY CONSERVATION FACILITIES

The Board of Education of the Piedmont Unified School District (“Board”)
shall hold a public hearing to authorize the award of one contract for construction of energy conservation facilities. (“Contracts”) Pursuant to the provisions of California Government Code Section 4217.12 (a), the Board will determine whether it is in the best interests of the Piedmont Unified School District to enter into the Contracts.

Date: June 13, 2018
Hearing Body: Piedmont Unified School District Board of Education
Time: 7:00 p.m., during a Regular Board of Education meeting
Place: PUSD District Office, 120 Vista Avenue, (Board Room)

Jun 5 2018
     In reply to Superintendent Booker’s response to my recent article “A Costly Mistake”, the salient issue is whether or not the high school can get by without adding eight portables for a period of three years. I am not an educator, but I can add and subtract.

    The high school now has 39 designated classrooms on the campus, two of which are used for other purposes. A normal school day includes seven periods. The Administration building currently has 8 classrooms used by 12 teachers for a total of 52 periods a day, nearly 100 per cent utilization of the 56 total periods. When the Admin building is demolished, there will be 31 classrooms remaining on the campus with a total of 217 teaching periods in each school day.

    The PHS Staff Directory provides the specific classroom and number of periods assigned in that classroom for each member of the faculty. My tabulation shows that at present the Math Science building has a surplus of 8 periods, the Library has a surplus of 18 periods, and MHS has a surplus of 28 teaching periods. If the district temporarily cancels out ceramics, MHS will have a surplus of 32 periods. Total underutilization will then be 58 of the 217 periods, six more than the 52 needed to accommodate all of the teachers on the staff including those displaced by demolition of the Admin building. The 31 remaining classrooms will be no more heavily used than are the existing classrooms in the Admin building — and for 1.5 years under my proposal instead of 3 years.

    Making enhanced use of the library conference room and subdividing just one of the existing classrooms into 4 smaller seminar rooms would provide additional flexibility. The PHS principal’s office can be conveniently relocated across the arcade to the rooms now occupied by the teacher’s lounge and teacher’s resource room in the library. Teachers might, in fact, benefit by sharing the student lounge with the students. And storage space, even if temporarily rented, is relatively easy to provide.

    Other issues may need to be resolved, but the high school can get by without adding eight portable classrooms, and the district could proceed now with the demolition of the Admin building. That much is indisputable.

William Blackwell, Piedmont Resident

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.