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November 6, 2018 — California General Election
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School

Piedmont Unified School DistrictCandidate for Member, Board of Education

Photo of Hari Titan

Hari Titan

Big Data Scientist
1,671 votes (15.62%)
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • FINANCES: Enforce sound financial management and rebuild the nearly exhausted emergency reserve fund. Cease outlandish and wasteful compound interest expense that could be replaced with funds needed for teachers and students.
  • EDUCATION: Conduct nationwide searches to hire the best STEM and Arts teachers to match the new STEAM facilities and fill voids caused by missing science and language teachers.
  • STEWARDSHIP: Cease favoritism in hiring decisions. Enforce all PUSD business be conducted in open Brown Enacted meetings with published minutes and materials. Ensure student safety with prompt resolution of misconduct by PUSD personnel.

Experience

Education

U of Waterloo PhD, Computer Science (1993)
U of Waterloo Masters, Mathematics (1989)

Community Activities

Promoted STEM education which led to higher PUSD rank, PUSD (2013–2018)
Spearheaded extension of kindergarten school day, PUSD (2013–2017)
Exposed $44 million interest penalty to taxpayers from deferred taxation, PUSD (2013–2017)
Saved Piedmonters $26 million by refinancing school bond, PUSD School Board (2017–2017)
Discovered cost to build new theater was not more than proposed renovation, PUSD Alan Harvey Theater (Measure H) (2014–2014)

Biography

Both my parents were teachers and they instilled a LOVE of math, science and lifelong learning which led to my Masters in Mathematics and my PhD in Computer Science. 

My STEM training got me numerous jobs as a data scientist in the Financial Services industry over 20 years.   Prior to that I was also an assistant professor of Computer Science.

My family moved to Piedmont in 2008.  My son attended Piedmont High school and my daughter is now in 7th grade having completed 6 years at Havens.  So my wife and I have very relevant experience relating to our schools. 

In some ways our school board is like a basketball team.  You are the team owners, responsible for deciding which composition of players makes the best team.

The diversity in experience and perspective that I bring to this team are:

  • I contribute a financial talent and perspective that saved the school district over $26 million dollars
  • I contribute the perspective as a father of two children
  • I contribute 20 years of professional experience in finance, quantitative analytics and mathematics
  • I contribute the perspectives of someone who has closely studied school board matters 

Since 2013 I provided advice to the district on topics including a new construction cost-benefit analysis for the Alan Harvey Theater, criteria for a nationwide search for superintendent, enhancing STEM curriculum, extended-day kindergarten, saving money for the general fund with solar panels, avoiding creative financing for Measures H and H1 school bonds, refinancing a creatively financed school bond, increasing transparency and expanding public participation in decision-making.  

Political Beliefs

Position Papers

Endorsement Letters

Summary

Contents:

1.  Promises to deliver.

2.  Why are folks endorsing this candidate?

Accountability

  • Enforce Brown Act for all PUSD business & publish meeting minutes.
  • Use 21st century tools for open forum communications.

Fiscal Responsibility

  • Cease wasteful school bond interest expense for Piedmont taxpayers.
  • Improve PUSD’s budget  forecasting efforts.

Educational Excellence

  • Offer more STEM, Art and Language education
  • Seek the best of the best  with multiple candidates interviewed for every job

 

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Patty White's (Former mayor of Piedmont) Endorsement

 

I strongly encourage everyone to vote for Hari Titan for Piedmont School Board. Hari would bring so much to our school board: his extensive financial expertise; his willingness to engage in how the District, teachers and community can reach consensus on how decisions are made; Hari's ongoing efforts for increased transparency in deliberations and decisions by both the board and District staff so the public is fully informed; and his strong support of STEM in our schools. Hari was the first to talk about STEM during the election four years ago. He was also the first to explain the different bond choices and the financial repercussions of each method to the public. Piedmont needs a school board that is open and transparent. Hari would be great.

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Bruce Joffe's Endorsement

 

Two School Board positions are open for voter approval.  In addition to Julie Caskey, I will vote for Hari Titan. Hari is a Ph.D. computer scientist who has worked in the financial industry.  Since moving to Piedmont ten years ago, Hari has deeply researched the bond financing methods our School Board uses to pay for voter-approved seismic repairs and building construction.

 

Burrowing in, he discovered that the School Board refinanced the 2006 Seismic Bond from a CIB (Current Interest Bond) to a CAB (Capital Appreciation Bond) in 2013.  The CIB's simple interest on the $12 million spent retrofitting elementary schools would have cost a total cost of $19.8 million. The refinanced CAB deferred payment, resulting in compound interest that would have cost a total of $64 million.  Why did the School Board refinance with a bond that cost more than three times the cost of a CIB bond?

 

Hari asked that question and dug into detailed documents.  He calculated that the refinanced CAB would cost us $44.2 million more than necessary, and he shared that with other Piedmont taxpayers.  Finally, in 2017 concerned Piedmont citizens convinced the School Board to refinance again, back to a CIB bond. This current CIB bond saves us $26 million compared with the CAB bond.  It didn't save us the entire $44.2 million because the CAB had a 10-year no-refinance provision. The CAB investor gets to keep $18.8 million of our taxes with no discernible benefit to Piedmont.   But thanks to Hari, our loss has been minimized.

 

We need Hari Titan on the School Board to make sure the Board doesn't try some other bonehead financing scheme with the recently-approved $66 million H1 Bonds.  We need transparency in school bond finance decision-making. Board members should commit to NOT using the CAB bond financing method without public disclosure, input and approval.  Hari Titan and Julie Caskey should replace the incumbent members of the School Board.

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Dr. Donald Fones M.D. Endorsement

 

I am a firm believer in responsible pay-as-you-go financing for municipal capital projects.  I was surprised to learn that the school board has the power to take a pay-as-you-go school bond and refinance it in a way that incurs exponentially compounding interest charges without consulting all property taxpayers.  The majority of Piedmonters do not have kids in the school and do not receive notices from the school district when they are planning to do a refinance. I am one of those people in Piedmont. I wish the school board would choose to avoid compound interest financing if pay-as-you-go financing is possible.  I have read that the school board wants to consult with district parents about what type of financing to get at every opportunity. However, that excludes me and likely over 60% of Piedmonters who are affected by these refinance decisions and don't have kids in the district. I have read many of the articles that Hari Titan, PhD wrote in the Piedmont Post and am grateful to him explaining the situation to all of us.  Please join me in voting for Dr. Titan.

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Tom Snyder's past Endorsement (Oct 2016)

 

For the past two years, Hari Titan has been a strong advocate for improvements in STEM education and full-day kindergarten. As a result of his grass roots leadership, these projects are now on the list for this year's $66 million bond measure (H1).  Hari's analysis comparing what was done in nearby school districts was instrumental in stopping the prior theater renovation which also failed to take a balanced look at district needs and whose funding structure was initially flawed as well. His efforts to educate the public on the difference in school bond types through his articles in the Piedmont Post, Piedmonter, his website and community surveys. is felt in Measure H1.  This measure uses traditional financing and was created after a more comprehensive review of all district needs and with considerable community input. The approach to planning and financing H1 is considered “absolutely sound” by Piedmont’s independent financial advisors, We need Hari Titan on the school board to ensure every dollar gets spent wisely.

 

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Cliff Kalmar’s Endorsement

 

This year’s School Board election has become very noisy, so I tried to apply some Sherlock Holmes techniques to some mysterious questions and issues surrounding our School Board.

Six Questions:

  • Why do some PUSD board members appear threatened by a soft-spoken citizen who saved us $26 million dollars?
  • Is it acceptable that PUSD allowed inappropriate teacher-student conduct to continue for years until 100+ parents confronted the PUSD Board in person?
  • Is it normal or healthy for 90+% of PUSD board decisions to be unanimous and with sparse public debate?...and does it have anything to do with the closed session held before each meeting?
  • When you have only one physics teacher, and that teacher retires in June, should the replacement be in place in the fall?
  • What’s the real motivation behind aggressive campaigning efforts by some PUSD board members?
  • If California Treasurer Bill Lockyer, Governor Brown, and a majority of California Legislature opposed usage of bonds like PUSD’s CABs, why does Doug Ireland, Amal Smith, and Andrea Swenson defend their usage?


Piedmont’s greatest asset are our schools.   The School Board’s duty is to provide stewardship of our schools.   Their stewardship has been dismal, so why vote for the candidates pushed by current and former PUSD members?

Titan, has the spine and professionalism to return prudent stewardship to our School Board.

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Yushuang Zhou’s Endorsement



I would like to endorse Hari Titan’s run for Piedmont School Board.

Many of us moved to Piedmont for the great schools. I would like to see our school system further advance its STEAM curriculum. Our children need to be educated and prepared for the competitive job market with a global workforce.  The standard of education has to keep up with the rapid advance in technology and changing economy. STEAM educators are a crucial part for the success of STEAM program. They teach students how to thinking critically and solve problems effectively. Hari has been an avid advocate for STEAM program. I strongly support his proposal to conduct nationwide searches to hire the best STEM and Arts teachers to match the new STEAM facilities, and fill voids caused by missing science and language teachers.

Hari also brings very strong financial background. His deep research on bond financing methods for our school board helped Piedmont save $26 Million. Piedmont schools are running well but many voters are wondering why we got into bad school financing situations in recent years and why those schemes are still on the table for future financing.  In the case of school bonds there are three parties involved each with their own point of view: The district (receiving the principal amount borrowed to pay for construction projects), bond investors (who loan the principal amount and will receive principal + interest) and taxpayers (on the hook to pay principal + interest via property taxes to those bond investors). We need candidate like Hari Titan to serve on the school board so that our interest as tax payers are represented and protected.

Join me in voting for Hari Titan!

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Brett Byers and Leslie Santos’ Endorsement


All of the candidates for school board are nice and well intentioned, and we appreciate their willingness to serve their community.

We support Hari Titan because his unique abilities will round out the school board and provide an expertise otherwise not on it.  Hari Titan has shown the skill and willingness to dig deeply into complex issues as well as the courage to take a stand for the benefit of the community that might initially be unpopular or strongly opposed.  Dr. Titan is focused on informing and engaging the public.

Finally, without Hari Titan, the school board will be devoid of fathers of students.  We urge you to consider placing one of your school board votes for Hari Titan.

 

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Rajeev Ranga’s Endorsement

 

When I refinance my mortgage I expect my amount owed to be lower than when I last financed it.  I was surprised to learn that when we refinanced a $12 million school bond the new face value amount owed is $27 million and we still owe interest on top of that amount.  Growing the amount owed is called negative amortization. Hari Titan, PhD was the first person to let the community know that we are deliberately financing capital projects in a way that increases taxpayers debt to bond investors and then we are on the hook to pay it off in balloon payments.  I read that some current board members think that negative amortization is a non-issue and they will keep examining these financial instruments in the future. I don't think it is a non-issue. Due to a 10-year no-refinance requirement, we are stuck with $18.8 million in compound interest charges that we didn't have to pay if it was done the same way I finance my own property.  Is this just par for the course when we elect people with Wall Street connections? Just say no to that. Vote Hari Titan exclusively. He's the only candidate who promises to end exponentially compounding interest charges and negatively amortizing financing schemes.

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Videos (1)

— November 3, 2018 Hari Titan

A quick 1-minute summary of candidate candidate's contributions to PUSD.

 

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