Piedmont Unified School District Newsletter - Week 8 Update
September 25, 2023
Dear Piedmont USD Families,
It was great seeing everyone at the Harvest Festival yesterday. What a great day for our community to come together. Here we are in week 8, already closing in on the end of September. This week's topics include the following:
- AP Courses & Student Stress
- The History of Raises in PUSD
- Strategic Plan - Community Engagement Sessions
- Staffing Update
- Future Topics
- News & Notes
Jennifer Hawn, Ed.D.
Advanced Placement Courses & Student Stress - Pulse Check
This week, two Advanced Placement (AP) courses are on the Board agenda pending Board approval for implementation in the next school year. Over the last month, I have heard from students, staff and parents describe concerns about the impact of honors and AP courses on student stress. Some say we should not offer AP courses at all. Others say we should limit the number of AP courses a student can take in a school year, and/or eliminate the grade bump students earn for honors courses. These arguments are often tied to concerns about the stress students are under to compete for college admissions. On the other end of the spectrum, I have heard students, staff, parents and community members highlight the importance of opportunities for students to pursue a rigorous academic program. And finally, you have heard me express some degree of concern about the ways in which additional courses can impact the high school master schedule, both from a class size perspective and a financial perspective.
To learn more about the impact of AP courses on student stress, I took a deep dive into recent research on the topic. I could provide a review of the literature (peer-reviewed and popular), which would make this article rather long, but let me offer the summary version: there is research that points to the benefits and drawbacks of AP courses, suggesting both ends of the spectrum are true. The demands of AP courses can increase stress, and AP courses can promote a number of positive outcomes for students. And so, how do we navigate this tension between student stress and the opportunities that come with AP courses? I have ideas, but I think it might be helpful to first take a quick pulse check on this topic. If you would like to offer feedback, please click HERE to take a short survey.
More to come on this topic, but most of all, please know that student success…academic and social-emotional, is an essential part of the work we do. I look forward to partnering with our students, staff and parents on creating an environment where our students can thrive.
The History of Raises in PUSD
As PUSD and our labor partners (APT & CSEA) engage in negotiations this month, and likely into the months ahead, you may be wondering about the history of compensation increases for our staff. I certainly was, and the chart below is what I learned.
Over the last five years, PUSD has engaged in a practice that includes consistent raises, both ongoing increases and one-time payments. You may be wondering why the CSEA chart looks somewhat different from the APT chart. For CSEA members, increases have sometimes been negotiated at a flat rate rather than percentage, which is simply another way of providing compensation increases to CSEA members according to their preference. The health contribution has more recently become a concern for our district and staff, as the health benefit rates have increased by double digits over the last two years. On this point, we have been working with a health benefits broker to negotiate lower rates, and heard back on 9/21 that there is an additional plan option that is significantly lower than the rates originally proposed. We are working with our health benefits committee (PUSD, APT, CSEA and APSA staff) to review this new information, with the hope that it provides a better option for our staff.
As we continue our negotiations with our staff, I will reaffirm my profound respect for our staff and our desire to do our best to offer a competitive compensation package.
Strategic Plan: Community Engagement Sessions
Just a reminder that we still have three engagement sessions scheduled at our schools to provide input on the PUSD strategic plan:
- Beach, 10/10 at 6:30 p.m.
- MHS, 10/12 at 7:00 p.m. (virtual)
- PHS, 10/13 at 9 a.m.
If you cannot attend your school's session, please join us at any of the other sessions. We look forward to seeing you there!
Future Communication Topics
PUSD News & Notes
Latinx/National Hispanic Heritage Month - September 15th through October 15th is recognized by the PUSD and the CDE as Latinx/Hispanic Heritage Month. We celebrate our LatinX students, staff and families this month and ALWAYS.
Piedmont Week of Wellness - September 20th - September 27th. More information HERE
Piedmont Boosters Oktoberfest - October 22nd from 12PM - 5PM. More information HERE
Piedmont Art Walk - October 1st from 12PM - 5PM at 801 Magnolia Ave. More information HERE
Witter Field Renovation Project Updates - For updates on the Witter Field Renovation Project, please go to our Facilities page on our PUSD website. The 9/1 update is available now.
Community Pool Construction Update - Safety measures around the Community Pool Project construction site on Magnolia Ave. across from PHS/MHS are currently in effect. Visit the City of Piedmont's website for details.
Work for PUSD - PUSD is seeking candidates for a variety of positions. Visit the District's Edjoin page for a complete list of jobs available and to apply online.
Substitutes Needed - Support students while earning up to $200/day. PUSD seeking substitute teachers for the 2023-24 school year. Visit the District's EdJoin page for more information and to apply.
Follow PUSD - Please read our school newsletters sent out weekly for update to date information. The District Facebook (@piedmontunified), Twitter (@piedmontunified), Instagram (@piedmontusd) and Threads (@piedmontusd@threads) pages are active.
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