In 2016 Piedmont voters approved Measure H1 to fund the modernization and improvement of school facilities. Specifically, these funds are being used to build a new high school building and a new theater and to make smaller improvements to other buildings. Construction is in progress and will be fully complete by August 2021. The new high school building will be open for students in August 2020. The bond funds can only be used for this project and are not available for use by the district’s general fund. Visit MeasureH1.org to learn more.
Each year PUSD accepts a certain number of inter-district transfer students. These include the children of parents who work for either the school district or the City of Piedmont. Inter-district transfers may also include students who would benefit from a program that Piedmont offers that their home district does not, such as those found at Millennium High School. For the 2019-20 school year, the School Board voted to also prioritize the grandchildren of Piedmont residents for Inter-district Transfers, and several of those were accepted.
Enrollment in schools throughout California has been on the decline, including at Piedmont. For the 2019-20 school year there were not enough incoming Kindergarteners to keep the third Kindergarten classroom open at Havens. This meant that some students who would have gone to Havens as the closest school would have been placed at Beach or Wildwood instead. In order to keep that class open and allow those students to go to Havens, the School Board publicized that they were accepting inter-district transfers. A total of 12 kindergarteners, and a handful of students in other grades that had space, were accepted through this process. These students are now enrolled in various classes at Beach, Havens, Wildwood, PHS and PMS.
Since students were only accepted in classes and programs that had a spot available, their acceptance results in significant additional revenue from the state — about $200,000 — with negligible cost to the schools. All parents, including inter-district transfers, are asked to make a contribution to the Giving Campaign.
Property Taxes: When Prop 13 passed in 1978, funding for California’s schools decreased by 60% nearly overnight. With Prop 13, homeown-ers pay 1% of the property’s assessed value in taxes. The assessed value is the value at the time of the property’s purchase, plus an inflation factor. Many Piedmont homeowners pay current market rate for their property taxes, but many more have been in their homes for decades and pay less. This continues to affect the taxes collected by the county that can be spent on public schools.
California’s Unfunded Liability: Several years ago the California government made the decision to fund their unfunded pension liability for teachers and public employees (STRS & PERS) by billing California’s public school districts at increasing percentages. In 2014 the rate was 8.25% for STRS and 11.44% for PERS. By last year the rate had increased to 16.28% for STRS and 18% for PERS. For every dollar we pay our teachers, we send 16.28 cents to the state. PUSD paid an additional $2 million to fund California’s debt, and the rate continues to rise.
Local Control Funding Formula: PUSD receives about $2,580 less in state funding per student than the California average. California funds public schools based on the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF). This is an equation that integrates the number and classification of students at each district. Schools receive more funding for English language learners, foster children, and students on a reduced-cost lunch plan. Piedmont has fewer of these students so receives minimal additional funding.