PIEDMONT -- Piedmont grandparents might have to wait another year to see if their grandchildren would be able to attend Piedmont schools.
The school board tabled the concept at its meeting last week, voting 4-1 with trustee Ray Gadbois dissenting.
Gadbois was supporting a small pilot program, saying, "It would be good for the community and the children. We already have 200 out-of-district students, the children of city and school employees" who are allowed to attend Piedmont schools. The other trustees were reluctant to support the idea right now.
"It's just not a time when we can add more kids," board president Rick Raushenbush said. "We need to table this until the state budget improves."
Superintendent Connie Hubbard explained that expanding the interdistrict policy could include adding extra staff and result in exceeding capacity in grades and programs. Both Havens and Beach elementary schools are at capacity now. There is a little space at Piedmont Middle School and Piedmont High.
Given the uncertainty of the state's funding of public education, which has seen reduced payments to schools the past few years, Hubbard said Piedmont could be facing a $3.5 million shortfall in the next two years.
Hubbard said the grandparent issue is complex. Beverly Hills school district had the policy, than abandoned it because of implementation problems. Are step-grandparents included? What are the residency requirements? Should all the children in the family be able to attend the school, even if there is no space in some grades?
Harlan Mohagen, speaking as a grandmother, not as president of the Association of Piedmont teachers, said, "I hope you can revisit this issue. It's good for community relations."
George Childs, also a grandparent, said he was disappointed with the decision, but understood the board's position.
In other business, the board is targeting March 5 as the election date to put the school parcel tax on the ballot. There will be three public meetings for community input before a decision is made in November.
"If it did not pass in March, we would have time to put it on the ballot again in November (2013)," Hubbard said, adding that layoffs of 90 to 100 employees could be eminent should the measure not pass.
The current parcel tax expires June 30, 2014. About 30 percent of the budget for personnel is funded by the parcel tax.