Oct 29 2020

The Mercury News Editorial –

Editorial: Reject Piedmont property tax hike for pool repairs

The Mercury News editorial is copied below:

“Piedmont residents tax themselves to ensure that they have the best schools and premier city government. The average homeowner pays $4,400 in extra taxes for schools and another $635 for city services.

But those taxes also drive up the cost of housing in the exclusive city surrounded by Oakland and further ensure that those with average means will not be able to crack the city’s residential market.

Voters in Tuesday’s election will face two tax hikes. Measure TT, which we have previously recommended voters reject, would increase the city’s tax on property sales to state record-high levels. Now we look at Measure UU, a $19.5 million bond proposal to pay for replacing three old community pools with two new ones. Voters should reject that, too.

Based on the city estimates provided to voters, Measure UU would add an average $263 annually to the tax bill for a home assessed at the city average of slightly over $1 million.

It a bit of a tricky calculation for voters because city officials in the ballot wording obfuscated the projected average tax rate as 2.6 cents per $100 of assessed value rather than an easier-to-understand $26 per $100,000.

It turns out that the city overstated that rate, especially for the latter part of the 30-year tax. The firmer number is that city taxpayers would collectively pay about $1.3 million annually to retire the bonds needed to finance the construction.

To put that number in perspective, the city spends more than that – nearly $1.7 million to be precise – just to cover the interest payments on public employee pension debt. Put another way, most of the pool bond payments could be covered by Measure TT, which is expected to add about $948,462 annually to the city’s transfer tax revenues.

Individually and collectively, the two measures raise a question of, how much is too much? Rather than throwing multiple tax measures at voters, city leaders need to prioritize and look for savings elsewhere.”

Oct 28 2020
I am supporting Veronica Anderson Thigpen for Piedmont School Board. I first met Veronica at Piedmont’s MLK Day Celebration in 2019, which she helped organize. Since then, I’ve gotten to know her even better through her work as Co-Chair of the Piedmont Appreciating Diversity Committee.
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In all my interactions with Veronica, I’ve been impressed both by her passion for social justice and equity and by her thoughtfulness, practical instincts and willingness to listen.
With her deep understanding of education policy, honed through her work as a journalist and an educational adviser, she has the expertise needed to help the School Board make the best decisions for our kids.
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As an African American woman who has been committed throughout her career to fighting for social justice and inclusion, she would also bring a fresh perspective to the PUSD board on a wide range of critical issues. And as a collaborative, can-do leader, she would help PUSD translate good principles into productive, concrete actions.
We’re living in a time of unprecedented challenges but also unprecedented opportunity – opportunity to build a society that is more just, equitable and sustainable. Veronica is someone who can help us meet that challenge by taking the amazing foundation we’ve built in Piedmont and expanding its reach to make our city a more welcoming and inclusive place.
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If you share that aspiration for Piedmont’s future, I hope you’ll join me in supporting Veronica for School Board!  
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Sachin Adarkar, Piedmont Resident
Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Oct 25 2020
I’m writing to encourage Piedmonters to elect Hari Titan to the Piedmont School Board.

Hari is a BIG supporter of Piedmont schools.  He has extensive experience in finances and a desire for the Piedmont schools to be the best they can be. Hari found many ways for our tax dollars to go further by paying for school bonds as we go, just like a fixed-rate mortgage.  By not deferring property taxes, Piedmont taxpayers saved $26 million.

Hari also fought for the cost-effectiveness of new construction for the high school theater and STEAM building, allowing for more seats, better acoustics, handicap access, net-zero energy use, and earthquake safety.

Hari has also fought for listening to our local epidemiologists and transparent school closure and reopening criteria. Hari will make sure we get back to educational excellence safely and as soon as possible.

Please join me in voting for Dr. Titan for the school board this year.

Patty White, Former Piedmont Mayor

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 – Titan:  7 years of valuable aid to schools –  

Our home values are linked to Piedmont’s  historical reputation for excellent schools.   That reputation is starting to falter as evidenced by the unexpected loss of 81 students from our school district this year.  Once lost, it will take years to recover our reputation.

Titan is the School Board candidate who will add thoughtful management and responsible oversight to the School Board.  Since 2013 he’s contributed over 500 hours of time which produced well-conceived recommendations that saved our schools and taxpayers MILLIONS of dollars.

Our current school board is disproportionately influenced by the unions and our country-club society.  Board decisions are too often unanimous with little public deliberation and are often dismissive of thoughtful public input.  Titan will return  transparent governance to the school board.

My decision to vote for Titan is based on the content of his character and intellect.  His experience as a businessman, mathematician, scientist, and STEM college professor brings valuable diversity and professional acumen to the board.

Membership on the school board should not be a popularity contest.  Titan is the responsible candidate we need.

Dai Meagher, retired CPA, Piedmont Resident

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the authors.
Oct 7 2020

No Consumer Ever Got a “Prop. 13 Discount”

Since Prop. 13 was passed in 1978, the taxable value of California business property has increased no more than 2% per year regardless of its market value, unless there is a change in ownership.  Owners of such properties have used various legal mechanisms to avoid a change in ownership.  These owners, whether operating a business or renting property to others, pay far less property tax than competing businesses that acquired property more recently.

Prices and rents, however, are set by markets.  Consumers and renters don’t get a “Prop. 13 discount” that reflects the property owner’s low property tax; the property owner just pockets those savings while the rest of us pay not only the market price, but also more in all kinds of taxes to make up for the lost business property tax revenue.

Prop. 15, on the November ballot, will fix this situation by allowing the taxable value of business properties worth more than $3 million to gradually rise to market value.  Opponents claim that Prop. 15 will cause prices and rents to rise as property owners try to pass along the increased property tax.  That’s extremely unlikely—if those property owners could charge more, they already would be.

Please vote in favor of Prop. 15 to require all businesses to pay their fair share and fund our schools.

Richard W. Raushenbush, Former School Board Member

Sep 28 2020

Read detailed information and watch a short video for School Board Candidate Hari Titan by clicking below.

> Hari Titan for School Board 2020 | Community Digital Town Hall

Hari Titan Piedmont School Board Candidate

May 12 2020

SCHOOL BOARD CONSIDERATION IS ON MAY 13TH OF WHETHER TO PROCEED WITH CONSTRUCTION OF THE PERFORMING ARTS CENTER/NEW ALAN HARVEY THEATER OR WAIT.  FUNDING IS IN QUESTION.

 There has been some discussion of deferring for at least one year the second phase of the construction program — demolishing the 10s building and constructing a Performing Arts Center/New Alan Harvey Theater on the 10s site. The reasons for considering a delay include concerns over the sufficiency of contingency funds ($1.96 million), an interest in redesign to reduce overall cost, and, mostly recently, preserving the 10s building for increased social distancing.

Committee recommends moving ahead with the second phase and demolishing the 10s building.

A Measure H1 Facilities Program Update is linked here for your review.

READ the full staff report linked below:

PUSD 5132020

READ the agenda for the May 13 School Board meeting HERE.

Apr 20 2020

The Piedmont School District is once more faced with a shortage of  teachers and professionals in various categories.

Piedmont Unified School Board will consider on April 22, 2020 Emergency Declaration of Need.

School Board action will allow the District to apply for and the Commission on Teacher Credentialing to issue Emergency Crosscultural Language and Academic Development (CLAD), Bilingual Crosscultural Language and Academic Development (BCLAD), Resource Specialist, Teacher Librarian Services, Clinical Rehabilitative Services, or Limited Term Assignments for teachers. 

See the agenda, procedures to participate, and staff reports linked below:

https://agendaonline.net/public/Meeting.aspx?AgencyID=1241&MeetingID=77883&AgencyTypeID=1&IsArchived=False

Background – Declaration of Need

Declaration of Need for Fully Qualified Educators

Mar 13 2020

“Governor Gavin Newsom today issued an executive order ensuring California public school districts retain state funding even in the event of physical closure.”

MARCH 13, 2020: This afternoon, the Piedmont Unified School District Board of Education unanimously passed the following motion: “PUSD Board of Education moves to close school facilities for non-essential functions, suspend in-classroom instruction, and dismiss all PUSD students beginning March 16 through March 27, 2020 in order to:

  • 1. Slow the spread of COVID-19 across the state and in our community, reduce the number of people infected, and protect those who are most vulnerable to severe illness.
  • 2. Plan and prepare for continuity of educational services during a pandemic that may last for an extended period of time. With the expectation that teachers continue to provide a continuity of education through distance learning, actively engage in communications with administration, colleagues, families, and students; and that staff necessary for essential district-wide services/operations continue with their responsibilities either at a school site/district office or virtually (if applicable).

” With this decision, beginning March 16, 2020 all school site facilities are closed to students and the general public. All extra-curricular activities, including athletics, instrumental, vocal, dance, and dramatic productions are also cancelled. Additionally, all school site facilities rentals by the public are cancelled.

During this time, district leaders will coordinate with county health officials, the Alameda County Public Health Department, and California Department of Education to determine if returning on March 30th is advisable.

Continuity of Education School site educators are developing plans to deliver a continuity of education for students district-wide. Distance learning will be utilized, so we expect students and families to monitor email, Infinite Campus, and Schoology regularly for homework/learning activities, important updates, and messages from teachers and the administration.

Our goal is to begin communicating distance learning opportunities in the afternoon on Tuesday, March 17, 2020. These communications, including expectations and specific learning opportunities will arrive directly from site educators and the administration.

READ FULL PRESS RELEASE BY CLICKING BELOW:

Press Release – SCHOOL FACILITY CLOSURE 03-16- TO 3-27-20

Randall Booker, School Superintendent

Jan 29 2020

As members of the East Bay Coalition for Public Education, we have joined forces with administrators, teachers, staff, school board members, parents, and students from school districts across the East Bay to advocate for adequate funding for all public schools in California. We ask each of you to add your voice in support of public education, in conjunction with neighboring districts, during Fund Education Now! Week February 3 through 7.

Facts: California has the 5th largest economy in the world, yet the state is ranked 40th in the nation for education spending. Districts are unable to provide teachers with a livable wage creating a teacher shortage across the state. The lack of adequate state school funding has helped perpetuate gross inequities in the quality of education for students. In districts like ours, the burden for funding has shifted to local residents leading to ongoing budget concerns and a need for local parcel taxes.

During the week, we will flood our state representatives with messages from all stakeholders in our communities, gather signatures for the Schools & Communities First initiative, and continue to raise awareness about this issue.

Monday, February 3rd: K-5 students & teachers will create testimonials about what they love about school through artwork, and postcards.

Tuesday, February 4th: PMS students will create art and write letters to shine a light on the need for adequate state funding. High school students will post their support on social media. After school, we will be out front of Mulberry’s to share information about the Schools & Communities First ballot initiative.

Wednesday, February 5th: Parents and community members can post on social media and email our state representatives about why schools need more funding.

Thursday, February 6th: Wear Red for Ed!

COME TO THE RALLY at the Piedmont Community Center from 3:30 – 4:30 pm. Show your support for our teachers and staff, and California Public Schools. We will have music, snacks, speakers, a short video, and more!

Friday: We will wrap up the week by delivering our artwork and letters to Buffy Wicks, Nancy Skinner, Tony Thurmond, Governor Newsom, and any others at the state level who affect school funding.

Please join us in advocating for ALL students in California. Our future depends upon the quality of their education.

Regards, Randy Booker, Superintendent

Gabe Kessler, President, Association of Piedmont Teachers

Terra Salazar, President, California School Employees Association

Cory Smegal, School Board Vice President

Megan Pillsbury, School Board Member

Link to additional information > Fund Public Education Now Flyer (1)

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