Co-Chairs Claire Arno and Chad Olcott Kick-Off School Facilities Bond Campaign

Piedmont’s Curriculum Has Outgrown Its Facilities
Last Spring, I took a tour of PMS and PHS along with Chad Olcott and a number of other parents of elementary school students. Randall Booker, Piedmont Unified School District’s Superintendent, and Pete Palmer, the head of the District’s facilities, lead us through the halls and into classrooms at both schools. We were surprised and a bit dismayed by what we saw. At one point, we saw a group of high school students sitting on the floor with their open laptops, huddled around the one available power outlet in the room. Throughout the tour we saw extension cords tacked to walls with duct tape, and wound around various obstacles in the room. Technology was everywhere, but it was shoehorned into small, antiquated classrooms and connected by ubiquitous orange cords.

Our students need better facilities
We learned that much of the heating, plumbing and ventilation systems in these buildings were inefficient and had reached the end of their useful lives. One system, we were told, is so outdated that parts cannot be ordered anymore. It quickly became apparent to Chad and me that it is time to address the classrooms and buildings of PHS and PMS. Duct tape and extension cords aren’t going to hold it together for much longer.   For these reasons, Chad and I volunteered to co-chair the Measure H1 bond campaign.  The passage of Measure H1 will give our district up to $66 million to allow the schools to repair or replace leaky roofs, doors, windows, plumbing, and electrical systems as well as improve heating, ventilation, insulation, and install solar panels.  Our district will be able to add much needed additional classrooms and science laboratories, as well.

Times have changed since the middle and high schools were built more than 40 years ago.
Courses that couldn’t have been imagined when the school was designed – such as computer science, environmental studies, and sports medicine – have been added to the curriculum. Many of these courses require specialized classrooms, equipment, and internet connectivity. The current science classrooms do not meet these needs.  Current curriculum anticipates that students will regularly work in groups and collaborate on projects. In many of the classrooms we visited, the large, heavy desks took up most of the classroom. Often, there was little space for students to squeeze into the second or third rows. There was certainly no room to reconfigure the desks easily to collaborate in small groups.

Piedmont has a classroom shortage
Mr. Booker explained to the tour group that PMS and PHS do not have enough classrooms for the current and projected number of students who will attend. PMS needs at least three additional classrooms and PHS needs two additional classrooms and a science laboratory.

PMS & PHS lag behind Piedmont’s elementary school facilities
Unlike Piedmont’s elementary schools, which are a genuine source of pride to the community, powerfully reflecting our shared commitment to education, PMS and PHS are objectively substandard. Chad and I have become passionate about the need for capital improvements at PMS and PHS because we feel it is essential for safety, for learning, and for communicating both inside and outside the community that Piedmont is committed to excellence in education.

Questions?
If you have any questions about the needs that the bond campaign will be addressing, please ask one of us. Or better yet, take a tour of both schools. I’m convinced you’ll agree with Chad and me that the time is now and building the future of our schools is the right thing to do.  Please support Measure H1 this November.

If you have further questions, or would like to volunteer to help with the campaign, please contact me clairevj@yahoo.com or Chad Olcott at chadolcott@yahoo.com.  Our website will be live shortly — please stay tuned!

Claire Arno
Measure H1, Co-Chair