School Board says it supports pursuing parcel tax increase

Julie Reichle

Board of Education President Veronica Anderson Thigpen and Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Hawn at the Feb. 28 meeting.

Piedmont’s Board of Education on Wednesday night unanimously signaled its support for pursuing an increase to the Measure H parcel tax as a way to mitigate impending budget cuts. While not a formal vote, the Board’s approval means PUSD will now take the next steps to assess the community’s appetite for additional taxes before putting it on the November 2024 ballot.

The current PUSD offer to staff of 9% pay increase over three years requires $1.4 million in cuts for 2024-2025 and an additional $1.4 million in 2025-2026 — or $2.3 million in 2024-2025 to cover both years. According to PUSD, if a parcel tax were approved in November 2024, the revenues would be available to cover the 2025-2026 need and could reduce the cuts that would need to be made now — limiting them to $1.4 million for 2024-2025 only.

It took less than an hour for the Board to conduct its discussion of the parcel tax plan, a plan that Trustee Cory Smegal said came together after some last minute rethinking of where the Board could exert leverage.

Parents and students from Millennium High School showed up to petition the Board to preserve MHS counselors and program.

“We’re not getting rescued by the state,” said Smegal. “The outlook is looking pretty grim. We as a board need to explore every single option, especially everything we’ve been hearing from our staff … I know it’s hard to go out to the community and ask for a tax increase,” she said, noting that two-thirds of households in Piedmont do not have children in schools. “It is going to take an entire village to get this going,” she said. (Smegal was one of two school board representatives who worked on the Measure G and H campaigns in 2019.)

Running a campaign is a herculean task, said Trustee Hilary Cooper, who served as co-chair on the Measure G and H campaigns in 2019 before being elected to the school board in 2020. “We’re going to need the community to step up — we [school board members] can’t chair it or run the campaign and we can’t put this on the Ed Foundation either,” she said, noting PEF has their hands full with Spring Fling and the Giving Campaign. In order to get 66% of voters to approve the tax increase, Piedmont’s parcel tax campaign efforts typically involve hundreds of volunteers and months of work that includes phone banking, door knocking, and more outreach leading up to the election.

New tax or not, cuts will still be made

Some “rightsizing” (i.e. staffing cuts) will happen regardless of whether a parcel tax increase passes or not due to shrinking enrollment, said board members and PUSD. But exploring the option does give the district some room to try new ideas for revenue enhancements before making a second year of cuts.

Regardless of the incredible financial support provided by our community through PEF fundraising and our parcel tax revenue, we must adjust our staffing and budget due to declining enrollment. Simply put, we are getting smaller.

PUSD Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Hawn, Feb. 26 Pulse newsletter

Not enough takers for one-time retirement/resignation incentive program

The district confirmed on Friday that it would not be moving forward with a one-time retirement / resignation incentive program because it did not get enough interest. Feb. 26 was the deadline for commitments. The offer — a $40,000 lump sum partially paid for with PEF funds — only penciled out if 10 qualified staff signed up the district said in February.

The incentive program would have applied to staff who have worked for Piedmont Unified School District for 20 or more years (since 2004-05) or were on the maximum step and column on their applicable salary schedule.


District voters have approved parcel taxes for Piedmont schools since 1985 to supplement the diminished funding from the State. The last parcel tax election was in November 2020 when voters approved both Measure G and Measure H. Measure G is the ongoing per parcel tax renewed every six or eight years. With each renewal, the amount increases a little, and with the 2% escalator baked into the measure, the per parcel amount increases yearly. The current amount is $2,932 per parcel, generating $11.5 million annually.

Measure H is the newest tax that is assessed at $0.25 per building square footage. The average single-family home of 2,500 square feet pays $625 per year. Measure H generates $2.6 M annually and is designated for staff compensation. Parcel taxes must be uniformly applied to all households. There is an exemption for homeowners who qualify for supplemental security income.

What comes next

A survey is usually the first step to assess community appetite and develop the parameters of the measure. The survey will help determine ballot language, the amount, timing of the tax and more. Then, based on the survey data, a ballot measure is developed and discussed by the Board. Once the Board passes a resolution calling for the measure to be placed on the ballot, a parcel tax campaign committee takes over.


In order to generate revenue for the 2025-26 fiscal year, the measure would need to be approved in November 2024 or March 2025. Here is the timeline according to PUSD:

● March 2024 – engage with survey consultant (fee paid by District; PUSD says it was around $23,000 – $24,000 during the last campaign) and campaign consultant (fee paid by campaign committee)
● April 2024 – survey conducted
● May 2024 – Results of the survey presented to the Board to help develop ballot language.
● June 2024 – The Board approves resolution
● August 2024 – The deadline for Board resolution to be submitted to the County
● August – November – campaign
● November 2024 – election

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