PEF understands this is a difficult and confusing time for our community. In an effort to answer requests for information, here are some of our most frequently asked questions.
We feel it is important to give PUSD and the unions the space they need to complete mediation and negotiations. Piedmont is an incredibly generous community, and it shows in our exceptional schools. Our teachers understand and appreciate that 40% of the funding for our schools already comes from the community. While some might hope that the community can do more, they understand that school funding is a systemic, ongoing issue and reliance on one-time funds isn’t sustainable.
Please know that we are always happy to answer questions. We can be reached via email (email@example.com), by phone (510-653-1816) or stop by our office at 401 Highland Avenue.
The Association of Piedmont Teachers (APT) is part of the California Teachers Association union. They are requesting an 8.22% increase in salary and additional support for the increased cost of healthcare.
The offer on the table is a 9% increase over three years: 2% this year, 4% next year, and 3% in 2025-26
In budgeting, PUSD assumes that California will provide an average cost of living adjustment of about 3.5%. After PUSD’s offer was made, California announced that the COLA adjustment for 2024-25 would be less than 1%. To learn more, please visit School Budgeting 101.
The school board is considering about $2.4 million in budget adjustments. These adjustments include a reduction of 2 administrative positions, 8.3 FTE (full time equivalency) certificated staff, 7.5 FTE classified staff, some revenue enhancements, and some non-personnel reductions. Click here for a detailed presentation as proposed to the school board on January 25 at the budget workshop. While these recommendations attempted to have minimal impact on students, they will certainly be felt.
The proposed budget adjustments will allow PUSD to make good on the current offer of 9% over three years.
Each 1% salary increase costs PUSD $340,000. The difference between the offered 2% for this year and 8.22% request is over $2 million.
The community has donated and/or pledged $3,400,000 to date for funding our schools next year, representing 66% participation in the community, for which we are grateful. Raising another $2 million a year over each of the next 3 years (in addition to ongoing annual Giving Campaign donations) is too significant for PEF to undertake. In addition, one-time funding is not a sustainable approach for solving our budget issues.
That said, we are continuing to focus our fundraising efforts on the Giving Campaign and helping where we can with the support of parents and community members who have additional capacity to contribute. The Giving Campaign supports teacher compensation and benefits, and runs until June 30, 2024. It helps ensure sustainable support for our educators, with 78% of our annual grant allocated to teacher salaries. Additionally, funds raised may help preserve essential programs affected by potential budget cuts and adjustments.
In terms of fiscal outcomes for a healthy school budget, the one-time retirement incentive plan could create significant, low seven-figures in total budget savings for the District over the next several years. PUSD requested PEF’s support for this program so they could offer a one-time financial gift to retirement-eligible teachers (at levels 20-25 of experience) who themselves are considering retirement options and timing. A large cohort of 15 certified teachers qualify. If qualifying educators are interested in the program, PEF and the District would each contribute $20,000 per teacher (for a total of $40,000 per teacher) as a parting thank you for their service to our kids and the schools. PEF views this program as a win-win, whereby teachers who want or plan to retire this year receive a one-time, meaningful unplanned bonus. And, the District can engage in succession planning, hiring experienced talent who can contribute to our kids’ education. No qualifying teacher is obligated to participate in this program, it is fully their own choice. Should teachers opt-in and the program go forward, PEF would contribute up to $300,000 in a match with the District. These funds would be sourced through PEF’s Discretionary Fund.
Due to California’s chronic underfunding of public schools, PUSD faces budget shortfalls each year. Over the past several years, declining enrollment has also negatively impacted funding to PUSD. Much of the proposed budget adjustments are “rightsizing” reductions based on fewer students.
In 2010, in the wake of the 2008 recession, the state was predicting big cutbacks for education. At that time, PUSD administration shared that, “Times have changed, and we face a sobering new reality. In the wake of the current economic crisis, both the public and private sectors need to make tough choices in order to live within lesser means. District and community leaders acknowledge that given the magnitude of the State budget deficit and local projected shortfall, we can no longer fundraise or parcel tax our way out of the current crisis. The financial burden will need to be shared by everyone. One source alone cannot shoulder the $5 million shortfall.”
Our mission is to provide sustained financial support to Piedmont schools through fundraising and community engagement. Budgeting and negotiations are the responsibility of PUSD; PEF’s role is to raise as much as possible so that the district has the resources they need to continue providing our students with an excellent education in a supportive environment.
PEF’s major fundraiser is the Giving Campaign. So far this year, we have raised over $3.4 million, and the donation pathways are still open. The best way to support the schools, our educators, and the district is to make a contribution to the Giving Campaign. Funds raised through June 30, 2024 will be granted to PUSD for the 2024-25 school year. To learn more about the grant process, please visit our website.
In addition, our annual Spring Fling season has launched. Spring Fling provides parents with an opportunity to make targeted contributions to our elementary schools.
In general, and specifically for PEF, endowments may not be used as a rainy day fund. Gifts to the endowment are permanently restricted by the donors.
Annual distributions from the endowment fund may not exceed 5% of the average ending market values of the fund as of December 31 of that fiscal year and the preceding two years. Currently, that distribution is over $400,000 a year and is included in the funding calculation for PUSD. PEF’s endowment is currently valued at $8.5 million. It was established in 1989 as a way to provide sustained financial support to PUSD. The endowment funds are managed and invested by an investment management firm, overseen by PEF’s investment committee.