Back to business: PUSD School Board recap

The first Piedmont School Board meeting of 2020 and after winter break saw no public attendees, not even members from the Association of Piedmont Teachers (APT). The School Board covered the Schools and Communities Funding Act of 2018, approved a raise for Piedmont Adult School instructors and received a report on an audit of the school district’s financial report.

Director of Piedmont Education Foundation Heather Frank shared the news that the Giving Campaign had exceeded its goal of $2.8 million, raising $3.2 million from 1,308 households in Piedmont. Sixty-eight percent of the parent community donated and five of the six parent clubs reached 100 percent participation from their Boards.

“General school participation is very positive and most schools saw a large jump in participation numbers after our very intensive one-to-one personal email [and] text outreach campaign,” said Frank.

ASB President Jace Porter announced that the Green Club worked with the school cafeteria to green the space. The cafeteria no longer uses plastic bottles and now offers canned gatorade and compostable utensils to students. There is also new signage to separate different trash types into correct bins. Porter added that students are being trained as bin monitors to educate their peers on waste collection. 

The student Diversity Committee will be hosting a Diversity Day packed with workshops and projects for students. The date is currently being finalized. 

School Board unanimously supports Schools and Local Communities Funding Act

In the November 2020 election, California residents will vote on the Schools and Local Communities Funding Act. The measure will modify Proposition 13 by requiring large commercial properties (businesses with more than 51 full-time employees) to be reassessed every three years and taxed at the market value. Supporters of the measure say that Prop. 13 impacted funding for school districts and local municipalities.

A report produced by the state’s Legislative Analyst’s office found that the Schools and Local Communities Funding Act could generate $6 billion to $10 billion annually. Forty percent would go to schools and 60 percent to local governments.

Board approves higher pay for Piedmont Adult Education instructors

The Piedmont Adult School employs approximately 30 instructors throughout the year to teach community-interest courses. According to the District, Piedmont Adult School instructors are paid $30/hr. The rate has not been raised in many years and has fallen behind the rate necessary to retain these instructors.

“We recently surveyed other Adult School programs in the immediate area for a comparison of instructor pay rates,” the memo states. “Other programs in Alameda and Contra Costa counties pay between $31 and $43 per hour.”

The Board unanimously approved the new rate of $35/hr. 

Increasing the hourly rate of instructors will affect student fees, which are set to increase. Course fees cover the hourly pay, supplies and costs incurred by the district for running the program.

The next cycle of classes and the pay increase will begin on June 1 for the Summer Session.

Board adopts new LCAP and yearly budget development calendar for 2020-21

The Board unanimously approved of the calendar. This year, the Board will be adopting a new three-year Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP). 

According to the associated memo, the LCAP sets the District’s programmatic goals and the budget implements them. The District has developed a schedule that provides opportunities for public engagement as well as Board review and comment throughout the process. 

An LCAP Board workshop was planned for Monday, Jan. 13 and a budget workshop hosted by Gov. Gavin Newsom is taking place on Jan. 15. The interim report is due in March.

This year, the Board will be adopting a new 3-year LCAP. Community engagement is an integral part of the LCAP development process. The community is encouraged to engage with the Budget Advisory Committee and attend regular meetings on budget analysis. The first public hearing of the LCAP and budget is scheduled for June 10.

The Board must adopt a new LCAP and budget on June 24, 2020. 

Auditor’s report and presentation of 2018-19 District annual financial report

The Piedmont Unified School District’s annual financial report was submitted to the state on Dec. 15, 2019. The audit, which was conducted last year on June 30, was presented by Jill Stenton, senior manager of Eide Bailly (formerly known as Vavrinek, Trine, Day & Co.

“I’m happy to report that based on our audit work applied, it’s our opinion that your financial statements are fairly stated in all material respects,” said Stenton.

The audit reported significant accomplishments of the 2018-19 fiscal year: 

– All employee groups received a salary increase equivalent to 3%

– The Alan Harvey theater was demolished so that construction could begin on the new Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics (STEAM) building (the cost was reported at $29,292,854)

-Capital assets are at $80 million, with $7 million sitting in STEAM construction and the planning phase for the new Alan Harvey Theater.

“What surprised me this year is that [the pension liability] only increased about $300,000 from 2017 and 2018,” said Stenton. “The primary reason for that is the state of California contributes to STRS to reduce your STRS liability.”

According to Stenton, the state contributed $1.6 million for the 2018-19 fiscal year. SB 90 contributed an additional amount for STRS and for the first time in many years, they contributed an additional amount for PERS.

In total, the state contributed $2.8 million to reduce the school district’s STRS pension liability and contributed $385,000 for PERS. 

The cost of all the school district’s governmental activities (ordinary operations) for 2018-19 was over $50.2 million. The amount that Piedmont taxpayers financed for these activities through local taxes was roughly $30 million. 

The report made in its forecast:

– Enrollment is currently projected to decline by 56 students

– The Piedmont Education Foundation has committed a total of $3 million to support various programs throughout the school district

– The Measure A parcel tax will increase by 2 percent

The Board unanimously accepted the auditor’s report.

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