Voices | Piedmont is pushing back against California’s school funding crisis

(l to r) School Board member Amal Smith, PUSD Superintendent Randy Booker, PEF executive director Heather Frank, PEF President Eileen Kwei, Giving Campaign Chairs Cortney Allen and Nicki Gilbert

It’s no secret that public schools in California are chronically underfunded by the state. According to a 2019 analysis by the public education non-profit Education Week, California received an “F” grade in per-child funding for public schools.

The good news? Piedmont’s schools are surrounded by a deeply dedicated community of supporters that work tirelessly to help mitigate California’s abysmal state funding levels. And the quality of the schools here reflects that support: The Piedmont Unified School District ranks 1st among Northern California public school districts, and 2nd among all public school systems in California. That level of academic success wouldn’t be possible without deep investment from the community, and this past year’s record-breaking fundraising by Piedmont Education Foundation shows the importance that our town places on Piedmont’s schools and students.

On Wednesday, August 14, the PEF Board of Directors presented the PUSD School Board with a check for just over $3 million, all raised over the past year by a small army of local donors and volunteers. The majority of the $3 million came from PEF’s annual Giving Campaign, a community-wide effort to provide funding to cover the difference between what PUSD receives from the state and other funding sources, and the actual cost of providing the children of Piedmont with a strong education.

Other funding sources for the gift included the annual Spring Fling gala, distributions from the Endowment Fund, corporate grants and sponsorships, and Piedmont’s Dress Best for Less. The funds donated to Piedmont schools via PEF come from a variety of different demographics – local families, grandparents, and Piedmont “empty-nesters” who believe that continuing to invest in local schools is vital.

“Piedmont is an incredibly dedicated and generous community. The funding and volunteerism that we receive allows PUSD to offer choices and support to students that most school districts just can’t manage,” says Heather Frank, PEF’s Executive Director. The check represents 7.4% of the Piedmont Unified School District’s total budget for the 2019-2020 school year and will help fund everything from teaching staff, to arts and STEAM programming, to library staff and aides, to AP classes and extracurricular activities. Strong pushback indeed!

For more information on PEF and the Giving Campaign, please visit PiedmontEdFoundation.org, and mark your calendars to wear purple on for the Giving Campaign launch on Tuesday August 27, to show your support for our students and our schools!

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