Piedmont Neighborhood News

What's happening in Piedmont, CA

Archive for April, 2009

College Stars & First Year WNBA Players Ashley & Courtney Paris Hold Hometown Basketball Clinic

Posted by drewbendon on April 27, 2009

Piedmont High School Women’s Basketball will hold a basketball clinic in the East Bay for children grades 3rd – 8th run by former college stars and first year WNBA players Ashley and Courtney Paris (Paris Twins) and their Piedmont High School Coach Bryan Gardere.  The Paris Twins clinic will focus on basic fundamentals with an emphasis on shooting, passing, ball handling, footwork and inside play.  The clinic will be held on Saturday, May 2, 2009, 1-4pm at Piedmont High Gym and the cost for the clinic is $70.  To sign up for this event you need to register through the link at http://www.piedmont-hoops.net.

Paris Twins Clinic donations, give-a-ways, offers and registration were provided by local sponsors including Piedmont Basketball Foundation, Sacramento WNBA Monarchs, Piedmont High School Basketball and the Paris Twins.

For additional information and to register for, College Stars & WNBA Ashley & Courtney Paris Hometown Basketball Clinic, visit http://www.piedmont-hoops.net.

Piedmont High School Basketball –has worked to instill in their student-athletes values which apply not only to basketball, but to all of life.  The main campus is located in Piedmont at 800 Magnolia Ave, Piedmont CA 94611.   For more information, visit the Piedmont High School Basketball website at http://www.piedmont.k12.ca.us/phs/athletics/basketball-w.php

CONTACT: Piedmont Basketball Foundation


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A Lean, Mean PUSD Budget Machine

Posted by Len Gilbert on April 27, 2009


Amid the recent discussions about the upcoming election on the school parcel tax measures, there has been no suggestion that our schools are anything less than superb.  By almost any metric you could choose we are one of the two or three best public school districts in California, and there is no argument to the contrary.

What opponents of Measures B and E are suggesting is that these two measures are too large; that our excellent schools could and would still be excellent with less funding; and that, indeed, the administration has been wasteful with our tax dollars.  One opposition letter to a local paper was even titled “School Budget Out of Control”.  Well, when discussing the Piedmont Unified School District, nothing could be further from the truth.  The PUSD not only produces one of California’s most successful academic programs, it does so with tremendous fiscal discipline.

green-apple-booksPiedmont’s school budget has grown a very modest 3.5% annually over the past seven years – about the rate of inflation and typical for a California district.  State and federal funding to PUSD has grown only 2% over the same period, but our district has maintained a sterling academic program despite revenues growing slower than the cost of living. (By the way, some opponents of the measures have written letters claiming the district spending has grown more than 20% in the last three years, but it is misleading to look at such a short time frame with any school funding.  Districts are often given lump-sum increases in state funding to pay for mandated categorical programs and purchases – such as textbooks – that distort fiscal trends in the short term.  It is much more accurate and much more honest to look at the longer-term spending patterns of a public school district.)

So thank you, Piedmont, for parcel tax funding to offset declining state support of our core academic programming.  And thank goodness for outstanding fiscal management by the district.

That fiscal management is also reflected in how little the PUSD spends on administration versus comparable high-performing districts. In 2006/07, we spent only $572 per student on administrative costs; Palo Alto and San Marino spent $721 and $709, respectively; Beverly Hills spent more than $900.  Clearly, money spent in Piedmont schools is money spent on students.

Which is why test scores are so high, why PHS graduates go to top universities, and why home values remain so strong.  This is an excellent school district, and excellence does not come cheap.piedmont-measure-e-portables

But as we have proven in Piedmont, it needn’t be exorbitantly expensive either.  Cost-cutting remains a priority in the PUSD, and the baseline parcel tax Measure B on the June 2 ballot, does not increase the level of tax at all.  For fiscal 2009-2010 an average parcel in Piedmont would pay about $2,100.  If Measure B passes, in fiscal 2010-2011 an average parcel in Piedmont would pay about $2,100.  That’s the very definition of fiscal discipline: costs are going up and revenue is shrinking, but our taxes stay flat and our educational quality remains very high.  Yes, the parcel tax can increase up to 5% annually starting in year two if the School Board votes to do so.  Such flexibility is the norm for such tax measures and makes complete sense given the steady erosion in state funding to the PUSD.

The second ballot item, Measure E, is a limited emergency measure that would indeed raise taxes slightly, only partially offsetting the state takeaway of $1.5 million from next year’s budget.  Even if this measure passes the school district will face a minimum of $500,000 in cuts, which means teacher jobs.  There have been steady cutbacks in administrative positions in the district office and maintenance staffs over the past several years.  As cited above, our district already runs on a very small administrative budget now; there is no room for any more cuts except in the classroom.  And it is important to remember that Measure E is only a three year tax and that it has no option for a 5% annual increase.  It is truly an emergency measure that will expire before the core parcel tax comes up for renewal.

Finally voters should also note that the parcel tax measures this time include ballot language that directs the school board to create a formal advisory committee to monitor how parcel tax money is spent and to make recommendations as to the size and scope of any year-to-year increases in the core tax rate (for more information on this and other particulars of the two measures please visit our website www.yesonbande.org).

Any talk about budget disarray, then, is ultimately a red herring.   The numbers being cited to prove fiscal mismanagement are deeply flawed and misleading.  Again, there’s simply no space for more cuts away from the classroom. The real question now is simple: will we continue to have superior schools in Piedmont?  A vote for B and E is a vote to maintain the current level of excellence.  A vote against is a vote to dramatically diminish public education in our city.

Please join me in supporting both academic excellence and fiscal discipline by voting Yes on Measures B and E.

Terry London

Co-Chair Schools Parcel Tax Campaign Committee

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Walk-to-School Day – Friday April 24th

Posted by movenden on April 22, 2009

its-cool-to-walk-to-school-200The effort to get more families to walk, bike and carpool to school continues at all three Piedmont elementary schools with a Walk to School Day on Friday April 24. The Green Committees of the Wildwood, Beach and Havens Parents’ Clubs are encouraging everyone who can to leave their cars at home that day and join with their neighbors in getting to school by foot or other gas-conserving means.

On last October’s Walk to School Day, over 73% of Beach students arrived at school by foot, on scooter, by bike or by carpool. “We’re hoping to beat that record this week,” says Beach Green Committee Chair Margaret Ovenden, adding that changing how you commute to school can contribute significantly to reducing your family’s greenhouse gas emissions. “A lot of families have stuck with walking to school over the winter months, and spring is a great time for those who haven’t to get back to it.”

This Friday’s Walk to School Day will culminate a week of activities commemorating Earth Week, including a trash weigh-in and “Garbologist Recognition” at Havens, a “Water Conservation Carnival” at Wildwood, and a “School Garden Market” at Beach.

For more information, contact Katherine O’Connor (Havens) oconnorcrew@sbcglobal.net, Suzanne Lane (Wildwood) suzannelane63@gmail.com, or Margaret Ovenden (Beach) movenden@sbcglobal.net .

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Piedmont Solar Electric Buyers Group Discount Ending Soon

Posted by drewbendon on April 20, 2009

Sunlight and Power, a solar energy contractor based in Berkeley, is offering discounts for a limited time to all Piedmont home owners who contract with them to install a solar electric system for their home.

Now that more than ten homeowners have signed up and been approved, the manufacturer rebate stands at $2,024. If the group gets at least twenty, the rebate will increase to $2,944.  In addition to the manufacturer and contractor rebates, the Federal tax credit cap has been lifted and the California Solar Initiative is still offering significant, but declining rebates. While the cost of residential electricity has increased 6.7% per year since 1970, the cost of solar electricity has decreased from $80 per watt to $10 per watt. Factoring in rebates, the cost of solar power is close to $5 per watt.  The return on investment for solar panels is approximately 10%.  The payback period is approximately 14 years, if you assume that solar panels do not increase the value of your house. However, if you assume that solar panel additions increase the value by 25% of their total cost (very low compared to most home improvements), then the payback period is reduced to less than 7 years. The panels are guaranteed for 30 years, so even in the worst case, you would be getting 16 years of electricity for free.

The upfront cost for adding solar panels to a 3200 sq ft house in Piedmont is approximately $34,200. Costs may vary based on electrical usage, available roof area and orientation and angle of the roof with the sun. The cost is reduced to approximately $18,400 after applying the combination of manufacturer, contractor and California Solar Initiative rebates and Federal tax credit. Electrical savings are estimated at $1,200 the first year, increasing to approximately $2,000 by the tenth year would be approximately $6,600 by the thirtieth year.  Approximately 220 square feet of roof area is required to mount the solar panels.

If you can’t afford upfront costs, there are loans available. If you choose a loan period greater than ten years, your loan payments will almost certainly be less than what you would be paying for electricity on your PG & E bill. If you are not planning on staying in your house for a long time, there are assumable loans that can be passed on to the next homeowner.

If you are interested, please contact Sunlight and Power at (510) 845-2997 and mention the Piedmont Buyers program. The orignial deadline for the Piedmont buyers program was March 31st, but it has been extended.  But not for long. So hurry and call if you are interested.

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Bike to Work Day is Coming!

Posted by Len Gilbert on April 16, 2009

btwd-2009-275pxBike to Work Day is Thursday, May 14th. Do you ride a bike to work sometimes or even every day? Would you like to? If there was an Energizer Station in Piedmont, would you stop by?

Add your thoughts to the comments section of this post or join the Piedmont Cyclists group to provide your input. If you are a Piedmont cyclist, we’d like to hear about your riding experiences.

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