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Piedmont Unified School District Newsletter - Week 6 Update

September 11, 2023

Dear Piedmont USD Families,

Welcome to week 6! Below you will find information on the following topics:

  • The Budget & Staff Compensation
  • AI & Education - Pulse Check Results
  • Superintendent’s Advisory Council
  • Future Topics
  • News & Notes

In Partnership,

Jennifer Hawn, Ed.D.


The Budget & Staff Compensation

Over the last two months, I have been asking a series of questions that will help me and our Board understand what is affordable regarding compensation increases for our staff. Later this week at our September 13th Board meeting, you will see that we have closed the books for 2022-23, and our budget shows a little over $422,300 that is currently unallocated. The Board and staff will be discussing our budget, including what we might do with these funds. Here are a few points to consider:

  • Cost of 1% - In order to give all staff a 1% raise, the cost is approximately $340,000.

  • Qualified Budget - The State sometimes changes its allocation of funds, including last year’s “claw-back” of funds that resulted in Piedmont USD submitting a “qualified” budget to the County. A “qualified” budget means more oversight from the County because we did not meet our financial obligations. Should PUSD continue to submit unbalanced budgets, the County would increase its control over the PUSD budget. We believe we have balanced our budget at this point; however, the County holds us in this “qualified” status for one year.

  • Unanticipated Costs - Last year’s clawback was one unanticipated cost that was not in the budget. We sometimes have other unanticipated expenses. Examples include special education costs and maintenance costs. As much as we try to predict and budget for all potential expenses, things do come up.

  • Low Reserves - One way to protect against unanticipated costs is to build up reserves. Many districts hold funds in a higher reserve than we do in PUSD. PUSD holds the minimum state required reserve of 3%, which means we spend all other funds. Typically, we spend unallocated funds on compensation increases, and again, you can see that if we determine this is our course of action, we have about $422,300 for this kind of increase.

I recently read and appreciated the comment made by Dr. Marks, “calling on the larger community to engage in creative problem solving” (Piedmont Exedra, 9/6/23). I, too, am interested in creative problem solving, and I am always happy to have our community’s help. I also want to acknowledge the fact that our community already does help us with annual donations and two parcel taxes. Parents…thank you! I cannot adequately express my gratitude for how much you already do for our schools, which is not only evident in the 1/3rd of our budget backstopped by your donations, but also in the daily interactions I have with you and our students. Your engagement and support are profoundly evident.

I look forward to creative problem solving with our labor partners, and I will continue to share budget information with our community in the months to come.

Strategic Plan: Engagement Sessions

The Board and I will be presenting Strategic Plan information at Havens on 9/14 at 6:00 p.m. and at PMS on 9/15 at 8:45 a.m. I shared last week that we are attending each school’s Parent Club meetings (Thank you, Parent Club Presidents!) along with staff meetings at all schools and student sessions at PMS, MHS and PHS. Once we gather information, we will be presenting an update on the results and continued development of the PUSD Strategic Plan. More information to follow in the weeks ahead about future strategic plan engagement sessions.

Superintendent’s Advisory Council

We held our first Superintendent’s Advisory Council (SAC) meeting last week and explored topics of importance to our district. I feel fortunate to work in a community with such smart, engaged and caring individuals. We had some candid conversations about different aspects of PUSD programs, and I can already tell that this wise group will provide expert council, which will be particularly helpful in my first year. I will be sharing more about the work of this council in the months to come.

AI & Education - Pulse Check Results

Thanks to those of you who responded to my short survey on AI in education. We had only about 30 responses, but there were some key trends in responses. Concerns about cheating on assignments and ensuring teachers are properly trained in the risks and opportunities emerged. Over the next year, we will be exploring opportunities to learn more about AI in the classroom. For a sample of teaching strategies that could leverage AI, Ethan Mollick out of the University of Pennsylvania (Wharton Interactive) has written several useful articles linked HERE. As we continue to explore the risks and opportunities of AI, we will keep you updated about how it may impact teaching and learning.

Future Communication Topics

Future topics include an update on our school calendar survey results (still not available...coming soon) and information on our budget. If you have topics you are particularly interested in, please reach out to me at jhawn@piedmont.k12.ca.us.

PUSD News & Notes

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 on Social Media - The District Facebook (@piedmontunified), Twitter (@piedmontunified), Instagram (@piedmontusd) and Threads (@piedmontusd@threads) pages are active.