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Piedmont USD - Week 13 Update

October 30, 2023

Dear Piedmont USD Families,

It looks like the weather is going to be great this week for Halloween. Enjoy and be safe. This week's newsletter will provide an update on the following topics:

  • PUSD Communication Update
  • Budget - Where Does the Money Go?
  • News & Notes

In Partnership,

Jennifer Hawn, Ed.D.


PUSD Communication Update

I want to resurface the topic of communication in light of recent meetings I have had with some of our families who have ties to Israel, and a culturally diverse group of families who have ties to the Middle East. In an effort to support our students, we have sent out communications that have been received by some as supportive and by others as unsupportive. We have learned how the same communication can be interpreted in opposite ways.

We have met with families to listen, and we have learned a lot about how our communication has been received. As Superintendent, my role is to lead our communication efforts. I take responsibility for all of our PUSD communications, and I have found myself apologizing to families for various communications that have been received as unsupportive, and I will continue to do so as we learn how families are impacted by our communications. We have learned that our attempts at supporting all families have not always been successful as a result of differing perspectives. I take this to heart and will continue to work with our leadership team to communicate our focus on supporting all students in a safe and inclusive learning environment.

Although these differences are real, I believe we can find unity on points that fall under our PUSD core value of Equity:

“We foster a welcoming, inclusive, and safe environment where individuals are nurtured, where barriers to success are eliminated, and everyone has the opportunity to collaborate with others and reach their potential free from racism and other forms of inherent bias. We model compassion and respect for other perspectives.”

In this statement, we find common ground in our work to serve our students with a safe and inclusive learning environment, free from discrimination. Our focus is to create a sense of belonging in our schools. We have and will continue to stand against hate, racism, bigotry, violence, terrorism, and discrimination in all forms. Our work as a school district is to ensure a physically and emotionally safe environment for our students. To these ends, we are working with our school administrators, counselors, teachers and staff on actions that will ensure a supportive learning environment for our students.

  • Counseling Letter - please see the communication we sent out on October 17, 2023 regarding counseling and other resources for all ages.

  • Instructional Resources - We are working with teachers at our middle and high schools on resources to support information to help students understand history and current events.

  • Support Circles - When appropriate, staff are available to offer support circles for students. We are taking care to ensure these circles are available but not a pressure point for students who are not prepared for these conversations. Our DEIB Director, Jean Takazawa, has been leading this work, along with her work with our Affinity Mentor groups.

  • Informational assemblies - We are working with administrators at our middle school to plan assemblies that ensure students understand the impact of their words and actions. Educating students on what Antisemitism, Islamophobia, Xenophobia, and other forms of discrimination are, and what the impact of each will be, are important educational experiences that create a safe and inclusive learning environment where students understand how to talk with and interact with each other.

I will close by expressing my profound gratitude to our families for supporting our work as a school district to create an environment of belonging for our students. We are stronger together. We all belong in PUSD. We are Piedmont.

Budget: Where Does the Money Go?

I have received many inquiries about the PUSD budget, notably connected to APT’s declaration of impasse regarding salary negotiations. A common question that comes up is why PUSD cannot provide more than 2% for a salary increase for staff. The chart below provides a summary of where the funds go. As you can see, the increased revenue we receive from the State is reduced according to several factors:

  1. 63% (not 100%) of the Budget Gets COLA - Why is this? Because ⅓ of the PUSD budget comes from local funds, namely PEF donations and parcel taxes. This ⅓ local funding does not receive the 8.22% COLA. So, why can’t staff get a share of the budget that does get COLA? Good question–see #2 below.

  1. Enrollment/ADA Reduction - Of the 63% of the PUSD budget that DOES receive COLA, the chart below shows where the money goes. Enrollment and ADA are the greatest factors. Funding is based on how many students you have in the district and based on the average daily attendance of each student. This is why I shared last week’s article on the financial importance of attending school. PUSD loses funds for every day a student is absent. PUSD has also lost students over the last 5 years, also significantly impacting our current and future budget, which is why we have a team working on encouraging every resident in Piedmont to send their children to PUSD schools.

  1. Other Compensation Costs - In the chart below you will see costs that increased for PUSD this year. Some of these costs are embedded in staff compensation, including an increase to the retirement contribution for our classified staff. Other compensation costs include the automatic increase staff receive. Most pay scales include an annual increase for staff, but not all. The teachers’ pay scale, for example, is particularly unusual in that teachers receive no increase for the first 5 years, an increase every year for years 6-12, and an increase every other year for years 13-24. This is part of why the District proposed revamping this pay scale, including increasing compensation for teachers in their first 5 years. APT rejected this proposal, and PUSD acknowledges that a change like this one means that some may get an increase and others may not, which is hard to sell to all teachers.

The costs in this chart below show where the money goes. We did receive a little over $1M in additional revenue this year; however, once we account for all of the costs, the proportional share left for staff raises totals a little under 2%. This is what PUSD is offering for a staff raise this year…everything that is available.

Big picture

Future Communication Topics

If you have topics you are particularly interested in, please reach out to me at jhawn@piedmont.k12.ca.us.

PUSD News & Notes

Filipino American History Month - The CDE recognizes October as Filipino American History Month. We celebrate our Filipino American students, staff and families this month and ALWAYS.

Native American Indian Heritage Month -

PUSD and the CDE recognizes November as National Native American Heritage Month. To our Native American Indian students, staff and families, we honor you now and ALWAYS.

Piedmont Portal - For all of the latest school and community events, please visit the Piedmont Portal linked HERE

PEF - The Giving Campaign - We are grateful to our community for their support of our outstanding programs. If you are able to give, go HERE. And, the grade level challenge is on-- check it out HERE.

Witter Field Renovation Project Updates - For updates on the Witter Field Renovation Project, please go to our Facilities page on our PUSD website.

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.