Piedmont schools are the number one reason why people tell me they want to live here. Elise Marks is an English teacher and the APT President. PUSD was recently ranked the 25th best public school district in CA.
Why do Piedmont schools consistently rank so high?
We’re in a small close knit community that revolves around the schools. Everyone cares about education. You have a highly educated group of parents really engaged with their kids. There’s a real emphasis on education matters.
How is this school year going so far?
Good, it feels great to be back. We are still recovering from covid and that was hard. It was hard to be away a year and talking to each other on computer screens. I think we’re starting to feel like we are back to normal.
What are Piedmont school’s strengths and challenges?
The parents care, the administration cares, everyone is on the same team and we all want good things to happen. The biggest challenge as the union president is how are we going to attract the best staff and keep the best staff especially as a lot of us are getting older and heading toward retirement. Can we afford to pay teachers what they need and support staff what they need to literally live here.
Besides pay, what can Piedmont schools do to attract and retain teachers?
Pay is the single biggest thing. People are saying I can’t live here or I can’t afford to have a child or a second child but if I move to Oregon or somewhere else I could. We hear our paraeducators are going to food banks, they can’t afford their groceries. They are sleeping in their cars. This is really a crisis situation.
The Giving Campaign launched with a goal of raising 3.5 million dollars. How does this help?
It doesn’t go directly to raises and things like that. Now, the Piedmont school district couldn’t function without that money. It’s incredibly important our tax base just isn’t high enough to cover the things we want to do. So PEF enables things like engineering classes, music, art, things that are so, so, important to education that there’s no way we could pay just out of our tax base or even with the parcel tax.
What can the community do?
Make housing available, especially to younger teachers. If there are ways to build ADU’s, if there are apartments, places like that to help our younger staff in particular to live, that would definitely be appealing.
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