Our Collective Purpose Supporting Public Education in Piedmont
Piedmont takes great civic pride in its excellent K-12 school system. It is the fruit of the collective labor of many – a complex, highly organized, collaborative and supportive system that is made up of teachers, support staff, administrators, parent volunteers, the Piedmont Education Foundation, parent clubs, school support groups and residents.
Table Of Contents:
- Why We Do it
- How We Do it
- Did You Know?
- Fundraising for the Piedmont Schools
- The Piedmont Education Foundation
- Parent Clubs and Support Groups
- Volunteering: It Has A High Impact
Why We Do it
Great Education – Our Community’s Core Shared Value
What unifies us and makes us unique – and helps to make our District successful – is our deeply held collective belief in public education as a core civic value. This is a community that rallies around the notion that a well-educated population will enable the greater good – that we have a civic duty to sustain and support our local schools.
We carry the torch for those visionaries before us who founded the Piedmont Education Foundation and initiated a civic tradition of a supporting a healthy parcel tax as the state began to fail education in the 1980’s with the passage of Proposition 13.
It may seem simple or self-evident to put it this way, but from community members to parents, teachers, support staff, administrators, School Board and City Council members, every stakeholder in our school district is highly vested in the success of Piedmont’s schools and committed to the collaborative relationships that make them even better for not just today and tomorrow, but for the generations to come.
How We Do It
The Piedmont community works together to support our schools.
Piedmont spends approximately $12,500 per student (consistent with the national average for $/student costs), yet currently receives less than 60% of their operating funds from the state and federal government. Thanks to their commitment to public education, our community works together to make up the funding gap. Funds from School Support Tax Measure A approved in Spring 2013 provide over 30% of the District budget, and generous donations from parents and community members through PEF comprise another 8% approximately. School support groups and Parent Clubs provide volunteers and fund additional school activities as well.
School Parcel Taxes
To make up for the failure of Sacramento, the Piedmont community supports local school parcel taxes that make up approximately 30% of our district’s revenues. The work involved in passing school parcel taxes is dynamic and extensive, involving coordinated outreach with armies of enthusiastic volunteers from the community. The next election is in 2018. Learn more about our School Parcel Tax
Did You Know?
How We Got Here
Our school district’s budget used to be fully funded with locally levied property tax revenues and managed by our school board. In 1976, this system of funding public education was deemed by the California Supreme Court to be inequitable. Within a decade, through a combination of voter approved initiatives and legislation — most notably Proposition 13, our school district’s budget and capacity to control how we spent education dollars became subject to a highly complex and convoluted set of state rules and regulations.
Beginning in the late 1970’s, a group of visionary leaders and the Piedmont Education Foundation launched a series of successful annual fundraising campaigns to save school programs ravaged by the state financing changes. Recognizing that this level of private fundraising could not be sustained, the local community passed the first school parcel tax in 1985 as a way to restore a measure of local control that we once had.
State and federal funding for education is unpredictable and continues to decline. This leaves our community to make up approximately 40% of the cost of educating a Piedmont student. The funding gap has been filled through the generosity of the local community, through the ongoing renewal of the school parcel tax (every four years) and private donations from PEF and other support groups.
Throughout the recession, the District made cuts to its operating budget, and worked collaboratively to marshal local resources in order to maintain its high standards of excellence with a comprehensive program and adequate staff compensation. Unprecedented community support of the approved school parcel tax measures, and impressive parent and community participation in school fundraisers, have made it possible for the district to preserve essential academic programs and student support services long lost in other communities. District staff and teachers also have done their part to help solve the long-term budget problem with employee concessions that included furlough days and caps to health care benefits — netting a savings of $3.87 million over three years (July 1, 2011 – June 30, 2014).
Despite California’s current ranking as 43rd out of the 50 states for education funding, Piedmont schools continue to rank among the highest in the nation due to the generosity, commitment and vision of our community, school district and students.
A Great Public Education Isn’t Free: The Need for Fundraising
Private fundraising is essential to providing quality education here in California. Piedmont Education Foundation is PUSD’s primary philanthropic partner, donating funds that provide nearly 8% of the District’s budget. Parent Clubs and other school support organizations contribute additional funds and volunteer support for targeted and school site programs.
Piedmont Education Foundation – PEF
The Piedmont Education Foundation is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit community-based organization whose mission has been to promote academic excellence, champion innovation, and provide sustained financial support to the District since 1975.
The PEF Board of Directors follows goals set forth by the Board of Education and works closely with the Superintendent, administration and school principals to steward our funds to where they are needed most. PEF fundraisers are supported by parents and the broader Piedmont community – those who may not necessarily have children in the schools – and their long-standing generosity and commitment to the Piedmont schools. Funding sources include individual donors, Dress Best for Less, Partners in Education (local business sponsorships), and corporate matches. Learn more about PEF.
PEF’s Primary Fundraisers
- The Giving Campaign: annual fall checkwriting campaign
- Spring Fling: series of events supporting the three elementary schools
- The Endowment: nearly $6,000,000 with an annual distribution of 5%
- Scrip: shopping for the schools
- Partners in Education: business sponors
PEF & Community Engagement
PEF works to engage and inform the community about the schools and education-related topics at annual events, including the support and management of The Piedmont Portal, and the publication and distribution of the Student Directory, annual donor and District reviews.
Other School Support Organizations
Every school has a Parent Club which helps to facilitate parent-principal engagement and school-based volunteering.
Each Parent Club is an independent registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. They have representative boards at each school site, and collaborate with site principals, coordinate parent volunteer efforts, and help with dissemination of District and school site communications and information.
Parents are encouraged to join their school Parent Clubs. Their membership dues support and supplement school programs, provide important communication and opportunities to connect with the school principal and other parents. Their membership also includes a copy of the PEF Student Directory (and access to the secure online directory).
What’s the difference between PEF and Parent Clubs?
PEF funds “staff”: teachers and ongoing program at all six schools; and Parent Clubs fund “stuff”: site-specific projects like technology, student activities, capital needs, classroom materials, etc.
Parent Club Meetings – Parent Club monthly board meetings are open to all parents and provide an opportunity to hear from the administration about policy, curriculum and upcoming events as well as to discuss ways to support educational opportunities.
Learn more about each Parent Club:
- Beach Parents Organization
- Havens Parents Club
- Wildwood Parents Club
- PMS Parents Club
- PHS Parents Club
- MHS Parents Club
In addition to PEF and Parent Clubs, Piedmont has many other community-based school nonprofit organizations that help ensure a breadth of classroom and community opportunities and perspectives are provided to Piedmont students. They work to support specific programs such as music, the arts, athletics, and students with different learning needs, among others. They raise money through membership drives and parties held throughout the year.
Currently, Piedmont support groups are: CHIME, PADC, PAINTS, PHS Boosters, ALPS, Piedmont Language School, Makers, PMS Boosters, PRAISE, Tri-School Dads Clubs and PAAC.
Volunteering: Parent Involvement Has A High Impact
Those who have had children in Piedmont schools know how much parent volunteerism there is. Says Superintendent Booker, “Parents participate in the classroom every day and their participation is consistent and high quality.” The School Board, Parents’ Clubs, PEF, and all the parent-created support groups like CHIME and PRAISE are powered by highly educated and skilled volunteers who, according to Booker, “take their roles as seriously as those counterparts in other districts where the positions are paid.”
And comparable districts don’t come close to the levels of participation from parents on back-to-school nights and parent teacher conferences as we do. At the fall Piedmont High School back to school night, for example, 85% of parents attended, and during elementary and middle school conferences nearly 100% of parents meet their children’s teachers.
In fact, studies have shown that a high degree of parent involvement is a significant factor in a school district’s and a child’s academic success.
- For more information about volunteering and helping PEF, please visit www.PiedmontEdFoundation.org to learn more.
- For more information about volunteering at your child’s school, contact your school’s parent club.
- To learn about volunteer opportunities for other school support organizations, please click here.
- To volunteer on school and/or District parent engagement committees working on issues related to curriculum, please visit the Curriculum & Site Council page on the PUSD website.