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Posts Tagged ‘measures B & E’

Vote Tuesday on Measures B & E

Posted by Len Gilbert on May 31, 2009

BE-for-piedmontI believe that Measures B & E are good for Piedmont, both for the schools and for the community. I know that there is opposition to both measures, but overall, as you drive through town, you’ll see an abundance of Yes on B & E signs. Piedmonters are proud of their community and the schools are a big part of what makes Piedmont a great place to live.

No one moved to Piedmont because of the low property taxes. People move here for the small town community, the police and fire services, and most of all, for the excellent public schools.

It’s clear to me that the state government will take what it can from cities, counties, schools, and health services to cover budgetary shortcomings. The parcel tax is money that stays in Piedmont no matter what the legislature does. It goes directly to Piedmont schools.

Whatever your position, take the time to vote on Tuesday. The community’s decision on that day will affect you as a homeowner and resident whether you have children in the school or not. You should be part of that decision. I hope you’ll join me in supporting B&E.


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B & E in Brief

Posted by Len Gilbert on May 11, 2009

The ballots are here – Vote YES by mail today!

Why vote YES on both B & E?

Measure B

  • California underfunds schools – we rank 46th in the nation on spending per pupil.
  • Piedmont’s response for the last 24 years has been to invest locally controlled funds from a School parcel Tax that gets has been renewed every four since 1985.
  • Measure B is a consolidation and simple renewal of existing taxes – Measure B will NOT increase your taxes

Measure E

  • Due the current California State budget crisis school funding has been cut even more.
  • These cuts will &ct the classroom.
  • Measure E is a temporary (3 year) measure designed to only partially offset the latest cuts.
  • Measure E will add less than $20/month to the average household’s tax bill.

Did you realize that even if B & E pass, there will be cuts?

Assuming that B&E pass and the State budget situation does not worsen, the equivalent of 55 full
time teachers and 5 full time support staff will be eliminated by:

  • Increasing class sizes in grades 6-12
  • cutting back on administrative staff services
  • Reducing counseling time
  • Reducing classroom aides and occupational therapist time
  • Cutting back on ground services and facilities maintenance

If Measure E doesn’t pass, cuts will be more drastic

In addition to the above cutbacks, the equivalent of 3.5 full time teachers and 6 MI time support
staff members will also be eliminated by reduction of:

  • Classroom aides in Grades K-3
  • Library services and library assistants and for K-12
  • K-12 counseling services
  • Positions such as high school department chairs, activities coaches, music accompanists
  • PMS/PHS administrative support
  • Custodial staff K-12

The Challenge

  1. Approve Measures B & E by the required 2/3 majority of voters [66.7%), when nearly 70% of Piedmonters don’t have kids in school.

Concerned? What you can do!

  1. Get Out the vote -yours, every voter in your family and your neighbors -for both B & E in the June 2 election
    • Help combat the low expected turnout for single issue June 2 B&E election
    • Last day to register to vote May 18


  2. Vote by mail TODAY! Ballots arrived this week
    • If you vote by mail, your ballot anived this week Send it in ASAP!
    • Otherwise, request an absentee ballot ASAP
    • Last day to register for absentee ballot is May 26
  3. Register as an Endorser
  4. Register for a Yes on B & E Lawn Sign

Want more info or to help?

Visit our website at www.YESonBandE.org

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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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