The Piedmont Highlander

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The Piedmont Highlander

The Piedmont Highlander

April Crossword Key
April 19, 2024
APT outside of Piedmont Park
Staff Reductions
April 18, 2024

Staff Reductions

Macy Puckett
APT outside of Piedmont Park

Update as of March 15, 2024


  Instead of wearing their usual red, or even their statement black, Association of Piedmont Teachers [APT] and Classified School Employees Association [CSEA] members walked into the Feb. 28 school board meeting donning a different color: purple. In a time of unprecedented uncertainty surrounding the district’s future, APT members said they were sending a message.

  “That was our sign of community solidarity,” APT President Elise Marks said. “[APT and CSEA] were all Piedmont, working together for the good of our schools.”

  The sight of the APT and CSEA all wearing purple brought the superintendent to tears. 

  “I literally almost started crying,” Superintendent Jennifer Hawn said. “I’m not even exaggerating. This is what I want. I want us all to have this dream, to have everyone collaborate and be united.”

  The District has been busy in their efforts to seek revenue in order to compensate for decreasing enrollment, meet the demands of the APT by increasing compensation for staff, and reduce the original extensive set of budget cuts that received pushback from the community. They found areas to save money in reductions to staff and a potential parcel tax increase for Piedmont residents. 



   Reductions to classified staff were approved by the Board of Education at the special school board meeting on March 4. After the original resolution’s proposal on Feb. 12, District management to follow through with cuts to all but five originally proposed positions.

   The revised resolution was approved unanimously by the Board, and no longer includes cuts to counseling, special education, and art teaching services at the elementary school level, as well as special education and art teaching services at PHS and MHS. Cuts remain to Physical Education, and the high school’s World Language, English, and Librarian Services departments. Cuts to five CSEA positions, including paraprofessionals, technicians, and district management administrative assistants were also approved unanimously.

  “I think people are super relieved that [special education] has been restored because I think those are our most vulnerable students. And, if the support isn’t there for them, they’re gonna suffer the most,” Marks said. “So very relieved about that, very relieved about art. 

   Hawn said District management might be able to revoke some cuts by the end of the school year. 
  “Some of [the initial cuts] may not ultimately be full layoffs. We may be able to pull those back,” Hawn said. “So, I’m anticipating [students] are going to see some shifts on [the cuts] in a couple months.”

   The initial proposal of staff cuts aimed to minimize District spending by a minimum of $2.3 million, providing an adjustment for decreasing enrollment and funding the three-year salary increase District management has offered to APT members. Student enrollment in PUSD has decreased by 11 percent since 2018, according to Alahydoian.

“At this point, change is essential, as our budget cannot sustain our current programs and our efforts to offer competitive compensation increases to our staff,” Hawn said in her Feb. 26 newsletter, the Piedmont Pulse. “We must change.” 

  PUSD Chief Business Executive Ruth Alahydoian said the District’s current three-year offer to employees ( 2 percent this year, three percent next year, and four percent the following year) required two sets of $1.4 million cuts, one for the 2024-25 school year and one for 2025-26, or an upfront set of $2.3 million dollars cuts this year. 

   “The reductions still have to happen because we have to meet next year’s goal for the compensation,” Hawn said. 

   Assistant to the Assistant Superintendent Mary Leon is leaving the district years after her position was cut. She previously worked as a paraeducator at Havens, and has been in the district for more than 20 years.

    “I understand that the Board [is in] a really hard position,” Leon said. “I really feel for them, but I’m really sad that after twenty years in the district, this is the way I have to be leaving.” 

   Leon said she hopes to continue working with young adults for the rest of her life. 

   “I came here to get my own kids in the district, but I’ve stayed for you guys,” Leon said.  “[PUSD students] are so awesome. You’re so beyond what I ever could have done at your age.”

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About the Contributor
Macy Puckett
Macy Puckett, Opinions Editor
Macy (12) is the opinions editor for TPH. Aside from TPH, she is a student writer for iFeminist, a organization that publishes monthly articles about underrepresented women in history. She loves volleyball, tennis, reading, baking, and playing volleyball at the beach with her friends.
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