Frequently Asked Questions
The Giving Campaign is the largest annual fundraiser for the Piedmont Unified School District. Led by a committee of volunteers and the Piedmont Education Foundation, the Giving Campaign takes place each year in the fall and raises funds for the next school year. You can expect to see mail, email, messages, signage, and other materials from the Giving Campaign during the campaign.
What PUSD needs to spend to give our children a well-rounded and rigorous education is far greater than funding from state and local taxes. If every parent participates in the Giving Campaign, PUSD can continue to offer the programming that benefits our children the most.
PUSD receives about 61% of its operating budget from the state and another 1.5% from the federal government. 25.6% comes from the parcel tax. The rest is up to us. California’s efforts to fund schools receive an “F” grade from School Services of CA. State funding is basically flat year over year though the cost of doing business in the Bay Area continues to skyrocket. PUSD parents and administration prioritize programs and services that other California districts are no longer able to offer. The result is that PUSD’s students continue to rank #1 in Northern California.
Each year a committee of PEF board members, PUSD administration, and members of the community meet to determine this. PEF combines revenue from the Giving Campaign with other fundriasers run throughout the year. PEF’s total grant this year was $3,070,000. These funds are dedicated to preserving our small class sizes, providing classroom instructional aides and counselors, offering a wide array of electives, ensuring active visual and performing arts programs, and investing in curriculum, teacher professional development, and instructional materials.
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.
There’s a reason so many families move to Piedmont for the schools. PUSD offers programs and experiences that are just not available in other Bay Area districts. A survey of surrounding communities found that Piedmont has some of the lowest student to staff ratios, allowing more time for each child. PUSD integrates visual and performing arts, which encourages collaboration and creativity. We have a library and librarian at each school, a wide selection of electives, and a focus on technology and 21st century skills to help prepare our students for success. Much of this would be impossible without parent and community giving.
The difference between what PUSD receives from the state and our parcel taxes, and what it spends on students, is about $4.5 million. If every parent contributed $1,775 for each of their students, we would be able to meet the funding need. Many families choose to give this amount. Other families choose to give larger gifts, and some smaller. We share this number because that is the need. However, the amount each family gives is a personal decision. Every gift, of any amount, makes a difference. Participation matters.
The Giving Campaign is an annual fundraiser to help fill the gap between government funding and local taxes and what is needed to educate our children. Our objective, however, is not just to plug our annual budget shortfall, but to increase our long-term investment in our schools so that we can continue to build extraordinary programs that encourage innovation, creativity and scholarship among our students. We strive to do this through an endowment fund that will provide PUSD with an annual payout from the fund.
We hope that you will choose to support both the Giving Campaign and your school’s Parents Club and support group. Giving to PEF through the Giving Campaign allows us to provide the district with funds where they will have the greatest impact. The district develops their budget to be in the best interest of all the schools. This includes district-wide initiatives, such as curriculum and professional development. Each school receives discretionary funds through the grant process, which is based on the number of students at each school. Giving directly to your school will not necessarily mean a net gain for that school as the overall distribution needs to be equitable. Your contribution to the Giving Campaign helps ensure that all Piedmont schools remain excellent throughout your child’s education.
Every district is different. But, here are some of the current asks:
San Marino: $2500/child, La Canada-Flintridge: $3000/family, Hillsborough: $2500/child, Lafayette: $1300/child and Palo Alto: $1000/child.