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League of Women Voters of California Education Fund
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November 6, 2018 — California General Election
School

Piedmont Unified School DistrictCandidate for Member, Board of Education

Photo of Julie Caskey

Julie Caskey

Parent/Volunteer/Attorney
2,788 votes (26.06%)
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • ENGAGEMENT: Ensuring more community voices are heard during policy development.
  • OVERSIGHT: Improving transparency, accountability and fiscal discipline.
  • INCLUSIVENESS: Fostering a school culture that supports kids' diverse backgrounds and abilities.

Experience

Experience

Profession:Attorney, Volunteer
Staff Attorney, United States District Court - Northern District of California (2003–2010)
Associate, Immigration / Deportation Defense, Vanderhout, Brigagliano & Nightingale, LLP (2001–2003)
Staff Attorney and Trial Trainer, The Legal Aid Society of NYC, Criminal Defense Division (1996–2001)
Staff Attorney, The Legal Aid Society of NYC, Juvenile Rights Division (1992–1996)
Executive Director, National Women's Political Caucus (1988–1989)

Education

Columbia Law School J.D., Law (1992)
Barnard College B.A., American History (1987)

Community Activities

Vice Chair, H1 Bond Citizens Oversight Comittee (2018–current)
PHS Liaison and Co-organizer "Let's Talk" Community Workshops, Piedmont Appreciating Diversity Committee Board (2017–current)
Board MemberBoard Member, Beach Parent Organization, PMS and PHS Parents Clubs and PHS Site Council (2011–current)
Grants Committee Member, Piedmont Education Foundation (2016–2018)
President, District-wide K-12 support group-Advanced Learner Program Support (ALPS) (2016–2018)

Biography

  • Vice Chair, H1 Bond Citizens Oversight Committee
  • President, District-wide K-12 support group-Advanced Learner Program Support (ALPS) and Math Task Force Member
  • Grants Committee Member, Piedmont Education Foundation, 2016-18
  • Board Member, Beach Parent Organization, PMS and PHS Parents Clubs and PHS Site Council
  • Carnival Co-Chair, Piedmont Harvest Festival
  • PHS Liaison and Co-organizer "Let's Talk" Community Workshops, Piedmont Appreciating Diversity Committee Board

 

Who supports this candidate?

Organizations (2)

  • Alameda County Democratic Party
  • East Bay Women's Political Alliance

Elected Officials (6)

  • Libby Schaaf, Mayor of Oakland
  • Teddy King, Vice-Mayor of Piedmont
  • Tim Rood, Piedmont City Council
  • Fiona Ma, California State Board of Equalization Member and California State Treasurer
  • Melissa Wilk, Alameda County Auditor Controller-Elect
  • Delaine Eastin, Former California State Superintendent of Public Instruction

Questions & Answers

Questions from League of Women Voters of Piedmont (4)

The district has a history of hiring staff and teachers with personal connections to Piedmont and current district staff. How will you reassure city residents that new hires are the best choice for students and the school and that hiring is not unduly influenced by personal connections?
Answer from Julie Caskey:

Piedmont Unified needs to hire the best candidates to meet the high standards of our community. On the School Board, I will ensure that key new hires are the best choice, and are not unduly influenced by personal connections. Our administrators should continue to publicly post all openings to ensure that outreach is broad, and hiring is handled in a fair, and equitable way. With the recent statewide shortage of teachers in California, current teachers and staff may actually be able to help us attract excellent candidates by sharing publicly posted positions. In addition, we need to to make sure we are promoting a positive environment in our schools, so that we can attract and and retain our outstanding teachers and staff.

How could and would you increase transparency in district decision making?
Answer from Julie Caskey:

Most meetings are open to the public and meeting materials are generally posted online, as is the video of PUSD School Board meetings. However, communications needs to improve. The school board needs to reach out to education stakeholders -- including  the community -- and encourage more active input. We must provide clear feedback. The PUSD School Board can ensure the District shares more about what factors were considered and how final decisions reflect concerns provided by staff, families and the community. I will listen to students, teachers, families, and community members before policy decisions are made, and work to find the right solution -- putting our students first.

How could and would you continue or improve the recruitment and retention of excellent teachers?
Answer from Julie Caskey:

In the Bay Area, like many areas across California, we are facing a serious teacher shortage.

Salaries for teachers and staff are not high enough, especially given the cost of living in our region. Currently, not enough teachers are being trained and receiving teaching credentials from California, a national trend.

 

Piedmont needs to ensure that our budget reflects our values, and that our teachers know they are essential to providing the excellent education we so appreciate.  We must ensure we dedicate the necessary funds towards teacher and staff salaries and benefits in order to be competitive.

 

We also need to provide a respectful, collaborative and enriching environment for our teachers and staff, that allow them to continue to grow in their professional development.  Our administration can provide teachers and staff with a positive working environment where they feel valued.

 

A good starting point is improving communications between parents and teachers.  I am already working on this through my role on the PHS Site Council. We must provide opportunities for parents and teachers to build good relationships and for parents to show our appreciation.  When there are challenges, we want to have an established relationship of trust and respect we can rely on. I will work hard to improve open and positive communication on the PUSD School Board.

If elected, what would be your budgeting priorities? How can the school district prepare for increased pension liabilities? Can you identify areas in the budget where savings are possible?
Answer from Julie Caskey:

Every district in the state is struggling with financial issues and having a hard time meeting the requirements to fund increased pension costs. The Piedmont community already contributes 40% of our annual school budget through property taxes and donations. I want to see the maximum amount available go towards salaries to retain teachers and staff, while we strive to maintain funding items necessary to ensure positive student experience, like small class sizes. We need to take a more careful look at all expenses and sources of revenue.

 

We also need to work with other communities across California to address insufficient per pupil spending by our state government. There may be a proposed amendment to Proposition 13 in 2020, which could raise funds specifically for education by amending commercial property taxes. Locally, we could also look at expanding the student population to combat declining enrollment. Whatever we choose, it must be vetted through community engagement.

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