It is hard to imagine that the 2011-12 school year has come to a close! The graduating seniors are off to their next chapter in life, eighth graders are pondering what high school will be and fifth graders are already wondering how to navigate the corridors of middle school.
I want to take this opportunity to thank you for being involved in your children’s education, and for supporting the schools and our school district. I am thankful that the Piedmont community is so committed to providing the highest quality educational programs possible for all students. Because of this commitment, student growth and achievement continue to be a hallmark of Piedmont Unified School District. Student growth and an enthusiasm for learning can be seen in classrooms, at school open houses, art shows, musical performances, science fairs and athletic events, and in literary magazines, student newspapers, school yearbooks and more.
I also want you to know about some exciting milestones and challenges for the upcoming school year:
Construction Update: As many of you know, we are about to complete the final project (Beach Elementary School) of our school district’s seismic safety program. We are pleased to be running “on-time and on-budget” in strengthening our facilities and preparing for a future major earthquake.
Personnel: In a time of great turmoil for education in our state, Piedmont’s School Board has been unwavering in their commitment to a robust student experience, and the 2012-13 program, including class size and enrichment, is intact – not the case in many neighboring districts. The Board had the flexibility to do so thanks to the contributions from staff and community – employees agreed to significant compensation reductions, parents and support groups increased their fundraising. As part of the effort to stretch our dollars and at the same time striving for continuous improvement, we have consolidated staff positions where possible while welcoming new teachers and innovative methodology to our program. To that end, we are thrilled to announce Dr. Cheryl Wozniak as the new principal at Havens Elementary School – and I’d like to thank all parents who were part of our comprehensive search process this year.
State Education Funding Crisis: The state revenue crisis continues to hit Piedmont and all school districts in California hard. Over the past four years, we have endured a more than 20% loss in revenues from the state on whom we rely for 2/3 of our funding. While our 2012-13 budget is balanced, thanks to both staff and community contributions, the state continues to hack away at education funding, this time with “trigger cuts.” These mean the Board will need to manage an additional ongoing shortfall of $1.2 million in the 2013-14 and 2014-15 budgets by December 2012. This shortfall is ongoing and structural – meaning a onetime influx of money will not solve the problem – and we are continuing to work to find ways to cut costs. Please stay informed on the state budget situation and its impact on our schools – we will continue to provide updates.
School Parcel Tax: While the state’s commitment to education falters, Piedmont’s does not – for nearly three decades the community has supported a local measure to maintain excellence in Piedmont schools. The presence of this vibrant K-12 school system in the heart of its community continues to benefit students, families and residents alike. In anticipation of the expiration of School Parcel Tax Measure B, we have begun planning now for a Spring 2013 election when the Board of Education will ask Piedmont voters to continue providing financial support to our local public school system. Please stay tuned for ways in which you can get involved in this important and dynamic effort to support the schools – a successful campaign will need your help!
Have a good summer! I look forward to a productive 2012-13 school year.