Piedmont Neighborhood News

What's happening in Piedmont, CA

Archive for September, 2010

School Board Calls for Public Input on Budget Options

Posted by Len Gilbert on September 19, 2010

On Thursday, September 16, the Board of Education held a special afternoon meeting in the City Council Chamber in City Hall to discuss the District budget.  The District projects a budget shortfall of $5 million over two years, starting in 2011-12.

This meeting, which can be seen on KCOM or the City’s video archive http://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/video/, is the first of a series of public meetings on the District budget, and the Board members urged the public to participate in these meetings and provide input on how to address the shortfall.

Superintendent Connie Hubbard presented an overview of the budget, including historical information about State education funding as well as Piedmont’s parcel taxes and community fundraising.  The District, along with all school districts in California, is facing an unprecedented budget crisis. The projected $5 million shortfall is the result of sharp reductions in State education funding, as well as the escalating costs of salaries and health benefits.

Hubbard explained that the Piedmont community currently contributes more than one-third of the District’s budget through local parcel taxes and private contributions.  Even the extraordinary financial support of the Piedmont community has not kept pace with the increases in cost and decreases in State funding in recent years.

Board member Ray Gadbois noted that, since 2008, the District has resorted to one-time, temporary increases in revenue (such as Federal stimulus money, the emergency parcel tax and contributions of reserve funds from parent clubs) and decreases in cost (such as teacher, staff and administrator furloughs) to stabilize and balance the budget. These “one-time fixes” have made it possible for the District to avoid the significant program cuts that are being made in other school districts.

The Board members thanked the community for its financial support for education, including the emergency parcel tax, but all agreed that relying on private funding and temporary fixes is not sustainable — a more permanent solution is needed.

The Board presented a menu of “budget options” for public consideration that attempt to distribute the burden.  For example, by raising the basic (Measure B) parcel tax assessment by 5%, the District could raise an additional $1.2 million over two years.  By freezing health benefit costs at the 2010-11 level, the District could reduce expenditures by $1.25 million over two years.  By making changes to the educational program, such as increases in class size and reductions in support services, the District could reduce expenditures by an additional $1.5 million over two years.

The complete range of budget options presented are available for review on the District website at http://www.piedmont.k12.ca.us/board-of-education/meeting-materials.

Board member June Monach urged the public to review the options and provide input on how to combine some of the options, or identify new options, to close the $5 million budget gap.

Representatives of the Parcel Tax Advisory Committee, which has divided into subcommittees to study different aspects of the District’s budget, presented the Committee’s findings.  Mimi Felson presented charts and graphs showing dramatic decreases in State education funding, and the equally dramatic rise in local contributions to make up the shortfall.  Ken Jensen and Matt Lifschiz presented a comparison of employee compensation and benefits in a range of districts.

During the public comment period, Andrea Swenson, the Chair of the annual Giving Campaign, the schools’ most important fundraising event, noted the difficulty of finding sustainable solutions.  This year, the Giving Campaign is asking each family with children in the schools to contribute $1,500, an increase of $300 over last year.  Although the Giving Campaign may succeed in raising more money for the schools this year, Swenson noted that the $5 million budget crisis cannot be solved by private fundraising.

Mary Ireland, President of the APCP and PHS Parent Club, noted that many of the budget options would directly and negatively impact teachers.  She emphasized that this is not a reflection of community dissatisfaction with the service and care the employees provide our children–this merely reflects the magnitude of the budget crisis.

Amal Smith, President of the Piedmont Educational Foundation, echoed these points, and emphasized that the burden of balancing the budget cannot be borne by the community alone, or by the employees alone, but that the pain and sacrifice must be shared.

Board President Roy Tolles stated that Piedmont’s exceptional educational program was created and maintained through a partnership among teachers, staff, administrators, families and the Piedmont community, and that the same spirit of partnership is needed to address the funding crisis and develop sustainable solutions.

Tolles concluded the meeting by asking the public to provide input, in person at any of the upcoming public meetings on the budget, or by email addressed to the Board and Superintendent at: rgadbois@piedmont.k12.ca.us, rtolles@piedmont.k12.ca.us, mjones@piedmont.k12.ca.us, jmonach@piedmont.k12.ca.us, rraushenbush@piedmont.k12.ca.us, chubbard@piedmont.k12.ca.us.  Some of the upcoming meetings include:  Budget Advisory Committee meetings on September 23 and December 2; and Board of Education meetings on September 29, October 13 and December 8.

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Special Meeting of the Board of Education

Posted by Len Gilbert on September 15, 2010

The Board of Education invites everyone to attend and participate in a Special Meeting on the District budget, on Thursday, September 16, 3:00-5:00 in the City Council Chambers in City Hall.

The District, along with all school districts in California, is facing an unprecedented budget crisis. The District now projects a shortfall of $5 million over two years, starting in 2011-12. This crisis is the result of sharp reductions in State education funding, as well as annual increases in the cost of salaries and health benefits, and the expiration of Piedmont’s “emergency” parcel tax.

Since 2008, the District has resorted to one-time or temporary increases in revenue (such as the emergency parcel tax) and decreases in cost (such as furloughs) to balance the budget. In this way, the District has been fortunate to avoid the significant program cuts that are being made by nearly every school district in the State. (For example, Alameda is currently working on a schedule to close elementary, middle and high schools, and Orinda has not had school librarians for several years.) However, this approach is not sustainable — a more permanent solution is needed. Given the magnitude of the funding crisis, all manner of raising revenues and reducing expenditures must be considered.

Piedmont’s exceptional educational program was created, and has been maintained, through a vibrant and dynamic partnership among teachers, staff, administrators, families and the Piedmont community. The same collaboration and innovation is needed to address the funding crisis and minimize the impact on the quality of education in our schools. Please join us for this important meeting!

If you cannot attend in person, this meeting will be broadcast on KCOM, and questions and comments may be addressed to the full Board and Superintendent via e-mail as follows: rgadbois@piedmont.k12.ca.us; rtolles@piedmont.k12.ca.us; mjones@piedmont.k12.ca.us;jmonach@piedmont.k12.ca.us; rraushenbush@piedmont.k12.ca.us; chubbard@piedmont.k12.ca.us

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Beach Dads’ Pancake Breakfast

Posted by Len Gilbert on September 14, 2010

Yes, it’s almost time for those fantastic homemade pancakes (yes, the egg whites are beaten separately from the rest of the batter, then gently folded into the mix!) After you’ve eaten, join PAINTS for Chalk Art for Peace and create a square on the Beach playground blacktop.

5th Annual Beach Dads Pancake Breakfast

Sunday, Sept 19th 9:00-12:00 am

Beach Playground

Adults $6, Kids $4

Come for the Pancakes, stay for PAINTS Chalk Art for Peace

http://beachdadsclub.com

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Ken Burns throws out first pitch

Posted by Len Gilbert on September 13, 2010

Ken Burns, director of Baseball and now The Tenth Inning, is throwing out the first pitch at tomorrow’s Giants vs Dodgers game (Tuesday, September 14th).

Go Giants! Beat LA!

The Tenth Inning is a two-part, four hour follow up to Baseball. It covers the 1993-present time period and features the Bonds, Sosa, and McGwire sagas as well as Pedro Martinez. Looks to be another good one from Burns. The Tenth Inning premiers on PBS Sept 28-29.

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Taste of Temescal

Posted by Len Gilbert on September 7, 2010

This looks like good food and it benefits local non-profits and schools.

Taste of Temescal

Taste of Temescal is a night where local restaurants participate in a community fundraiser for area charities by giving you a small taste of their best dishes. Come join us for great food and drinks, live music and fabulous prizes (gift certificates to your favorite eatery). Two Pedicabs will be available to transport participants back and forth down Telegraph Avenue from 43rd to 51st. Live music will accompany your feast along the way.

Tickets are available online at Brown Paper Tickets

You can also drop by the following locations to buy your tickets:

  • 17 Jewels – 4801 Telegraph Ave.
  • Women’s Cancer Resource Center – 5741 Telegraph Ave.
  • Good Cents for Oakland – 510 49th Street, Suite 214
  • Bank of the West – 4900 Telegraph Ave.
  • Ruby’s Garden– 5095 Telegraph Ave.
  • Temescal Telegraph BID Office – 510-49th Street, Suite 203

Proceeds benefit:

  • Emerson Elementary School
  • Claremont Middle School
  • Oakland Tech High School
  • Good Cents for Oakland
  • Women’s Cancer Resource Center
  • Lion Center for the Blind
Tickets are available online at Brown Paper Tickets

You can also drop by the following locations to buy your tickets:

17 Jewels – 4801 Telegraph Ave.
Women’s Cancer Resource Center – 5741 Telegraph Ave.
Good Cents for Oakland – 510 49th Street, Suite 214
Bank of the West – 4900 Telegraph Ave.
Ruby’s Garden- 5095 Telegraph Ave.

Temescal Telegraph BID Office – 510-49th Street, Suite 203
Proceeds benefit:

Emerson Elementary School
Claremont Middle School
Oakland Tech High School
Good Cents for Oakland
Women’s Cancer Resource Center
Lion  Center for the BlineTickets are available online at Brown Paper Tickets
You can also drop by the following locations to buy your tickets:

17 Jewels – 4801 Telegraph Ave.
Women’s Cancer Resource Center – 5741 Telegraph Ave.
Good Cents for Oakland – 510 49th Street, Suite 214
Bank of the West – 4900 Telegraph Ave.
Ruby’s Garden- 5095 Telegraph Ave.  Temescal Telegraph BID Office – 510-49th Street, Suite 203
Proceeds benefit: Emerson Elementary School
Claremont Middle School
Oakland Tech High School
Good Cents for Oakland
Women’s Cancer Resource Center  Lion  Center for the Bline

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