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November 6, 2018 — California General Election
School

Piedmont Unified School DistrictCandidate for Member, Board of Education

Photo of Megan Pillsbury

Megan Pillsbury

Retired Teacher
3,391 votes (31.7%)Winning
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Strengthen Communication between families, teachers, administrators, and the school board.
  • Foster programs that teach our students to be responsible, well-educated, and respectful citizens.
  • Monitor district expenditures for the greatest student impact.

Experience

Education

Mills College multiple subjects credential & M.A., Early Childhood Education (1998)
University of Washington B.A., English Literature (1978)

Who supports this candidate?

Organizations (2)

  • Association of Piedmont Teachers
  • California Teachers Association

Elected Officials (3)

  • Doug Ireland, School Board Member
  • Bob McBain, Mayor
  • Betsy Andersen, City Council

Individuals (8)

  • Sue Smegal, Former School Board Member
  • June Monach, Former School Board Member
  • Cathy Geddeis, Former School Board Member
  • Valerie Matzger, Former Mayor
  • Kay Cheatham, Former School Board Member
  • Dean Barbieri, Former Mayor
  • Craig Lundin, Former Mayor
  • Jeff & Becky Bleich, honorary co-chairs

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 Megan Pillsbury:

When I taught in Piedmont and participated in the Diversity Task Force, we encouraged the district to seek candidates from outside Piedmont to foster a more diverse staff and to bring in different ideas and experiences. We could add explicit instructions to those on interviewing panels to seek new hires who contribute to a more diverse staff. While I don’t yet know the current process or solution, it is certainly within the purview of the board to examine and question reasons for final determinants.

How could and would you increase transparency in district decision making?
Answer from Megan Pillsbury:

Improve communication between all groups. One board role I would like to see expanded is that of direct contact between the board and stakeholders in addition to the administration: parents, teachers, students. Board members need to make decisions as a group, but increased information gathering from those at school sites would certainly build trust, make all feel heard and recognized, and help the board understand particular concerns of those working in and attending schools. It would also be helpful if we discover and shed light on issues before they become crises.

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

Currently, this is a major challenge we share with neighboring districts. We still do not have a Spanish or an Honors Physics teacher at PHS and have been competing with other districts to hire the same few Spanish and physics teachers available. Increased housing costs and our inability to pay teachers well are driving teachers out of the profession and to districts outside of the Bay Area with more affordable housing.  

 

We need to be creative about how we support the work of teachers in order to retain them. This could be in terms of fostering creativity and innovation that honors teachers’ particular talents and knowledge. Support educators to make decisions within curricular restrictions and allow them greater autonomy classrooms. Respect teachers’ professional expertise and bring them in as partners to solve district issues. Teachers are acutely aware of the state funding challenges that hinder districts from compensating them well. No teacher goes into the profession attracted by high salaries; what attracts and retains quality educators is knowing they are respected and able to practice their profession to the full extent of their capabilities.  

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 Megan Pillsbury:

My budget priority would be to keep us solvent and retain our reserve, anticipate further shortfalls in coming years, and get the word out to Piedmont voters how the structure of Local Control Funding requires reliance on our local revenues. Stress the importance of voting in favor of the next parcel tax. Support the good work of the PEF on which we rely; this year they provided $2.7 million.

Anticipate that pension liabilities will increase. A February 2017 article in EdSource states, “A district’s contribution rate would more than double in seven years, from 8.25 percent of payroll to 19.1 percent.”

We are already working on a very tight budget, particularly in relation to the high expectations of our district. It’s always important, however, to examine each new expenditure and position created to make certain these are necessary.

 

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