Advice for Schools Master Plan

As a long time resident and a grand parent, I have been pleased to see the formation and growth of the Piedmont Makers organization. From my viewpoint, it is the result of the coming to our community of many families working in the High Tech Area: engineers, product managers, designers, marketing people, and entrepreneurs. They understand that the foundation of the Bay Area Economy is creativity, and that creativity is rooted in the arts, in engineering, and in the laws of physics that underpin engineering.


A New Theater for Free


At a recent meeting, the Piedmont School Board set a horizon of 2016 before going back to the voters with a new bond measure should the community decide on a new renovation or reconstruction plan for the Alan Harvey Theater. I believe that it is worthwhile to reflect on the past to draw lessons for the future.

The first is about capital project financing. Looking back, the proposed theater renovation could have been obtained for free. Yes for free! Let me explain.


Outsourcing Finance

In previous articles I've talked about how Capital Appreciation bonds (CABs) allow the School District to borrow funds without making payments to the creditor (bond investor) for many years. This arrangement tries to keep the tax rate level but stretches out repayment (and raises total repayment costs). One effect is to shift tax liability away from residents leaving Piedmont and onto residents who move in with higher property assessments.


Weekend Library Access

Piedmont does not have any public libraries within city boundaries.

We have very descent school libraries that are currently closed during the weekends.

We cannot ask the District to spend money to keep the libraries open during the weekend since our reserves are dwindling.

Parents could form a business entity to rent the libraries and staff them.

The business entity would need to cover the facility rental fee, damage deposit and cleaning fees.

Parents could decide to volunteer to staff the libraries in lieu of hiring staff.


A bigger Parcel Tax in 2020

The operating budget is currently running a deficit with no end in sight.

We have reserves but they are depleting and are expected to run out by 2021.

The purpose of Measure A (the largest school parcel tax in the state) was to make up the shortfall from what Sacramento provides.

In spite of Measure A we have experienced furlough days and cutbacks in teaching assistant hours.


Foreign Languages

In a globalized economy, knowing more than 1 language is very important. An idea we had was related to foreign languages and giving our children more opportunities to learn a 2nd or 3rd language before the 7th grade.

We are lucky to have the Piedmont Language School, and I know PLS has been trying to influence the curriculum so that language can be introduced in the 6th grade (start of middle school) or, better yet, in the elementary school level.

Will Piedmont work to offer students foreign language classes in elementary school?


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