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Superintendent's Update - April 30, 2021

From the Office of the Superintendent:

The agenda calendar is subject to change until final postings on the Friday before each meeting. The tentative calendar can be found HERE.

The AP Chemistry Committee continues to meet this spring to determine a final selection to recommend to the Board of Education. Students in selected Chemistry classes will access the materials in May to offer additional feedback.

The Psychology and AP Psychology Committee has convened to evaluate materials for these courses. Representatives on the committee include current teachers of Psychology and AP Psychology, a high school administrator, and parent/student representatives.

Both meetings are open to the public. Community members interested in observing a meeting or commenting on the materials may contact the facilitator, Tamara Wallace, at

The Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD) and the Palo Alto Educators Association (PAEA) reached a tentative agreement for compensation and benefits for 2021 and 2022. The tentative agreement requires ratification votes by PAEA membership and the PAUSD Board of Education.

The bargaining teams participated in multiple negotiating sessions throughout March and April prior to reaching a tentative agreement at 8:20 p.m. on April 29.

For 2020-21, PAEA members will receive a 3% increase to the salary schedule effective July 1, 2020, a one-time, off the schedule payment equal to 2%, and an increased employer contribution to the cost of Health and Welfare benefits equivalent to an additional .26% salary increase.

For 2021-22, PAEA members will receive a 3% increase to the salary schedule effective July 1, 2021 and a one-time, off the schedule payment equal to 2%. In addition, for the 2022 calendar year (January 1 - December 31), the District shall contribute towards health and welfare benefits an additional amount that provides unit members with the same dependent contributions as the 2021 calendar year.

One of the rewarding parts of serving in the role of superintendent is visiting our school sites to see the magic first-hand. Our middle school attendance has steadily climbed and is in the ballpark of 50% on any given day. More importantly, our students are having some great experiences together. A trip to Greene Middle School this week was especially encouraging. I heard staff members say some really nice things to students, including teachers sharing how much they had missed seeing (and hearing) them. Students performed warm-up activities and sang songs together. Others were quick to share their industrial arts projects. Groups of kids walked me through their position papers, supported by data in addition to their own beliefs.

This year has been difficult. That is true for everyone in our country. I have three children of my own. For one, the job market was dramatically impacted. My middle child has gone through a teacher education program without stepping on campus for a class. My youngest had her collegiate volleyball season canceled without a single game. A few weeks ago, I lost my father. Some things matter more than others.

When losses pile up, perspective is often lost. It happened to me and probably affected many reading this report. It was easy to focus entirely at the things that didn't seem fair. My son, a former valedictorian, deserves better opportunities for jobs. My daughter should be loving college and interacting with people to prepare her for a life in education. My All-American daughter should have been crushing volleyballs on television. My dad would have only turned 73 today. Yes…I feel a little ripped off.

Luckily, I was able to clear my head and think about a few things when preparing my dad's eulogy. My dad and I had an excellent relationship, and we shared a ton of experiences together that I will never forget. My daughter was able to discover that she is much more than a volleyball player and may get to play next year. My other daughter is coaching and found out "student teaching" can come in different forms. My son learned that sometimes you need to scramble to successfully make the ends meet. All of these things are true, but not until I allowed them to be true in my own head.

Our students have performed through Zoom without live audiences and thunderous applause. Parents have been shut out of attending things they looked forward to seeing for years. Students have not been able to interact with their teachers in the way we did as kids. Those things are all true. I hope that everyone can find a quiet time to think about the things that did happen and were positive. We talk a lot about mental health in this school district. That is a good thing. It's also a fast and demanding place that doesn't always offer a lot of grace when things don't go as desired. Better days are ahead. It's also positive that some of these days can be seen in a good light if we take the time to purposefully reflect on some of the positives.