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Superintendent's Update - January 12, 2024

Superintendent's Update - January 12, 2024

From the Office of the Superintendent .  .  .

Board Agenda Calendar

View Calendar of Board Items 2023-24

Superintendent Austin’s Message    

Regional Tech Industry Layoffs

As your superintendent, I want to acknowledge the large number of recent layoffs in the tech industry affecting families in our region. We understand that unanticipated employment changes negatively impact families in ways that could manifest at school. If children are negatively impacted, and there might be ways in which we can help, please reach out to your schoolsite. 

Second Half of the School Year – 2024

The second half of the school year has begun, and exciting things are on the horizon! Schools operate in cycles, and the transition to 2024 is a marker.

There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the future. Most importantly, our kids are in great hands in the classroom. It’s exciting to be part of the best school district in the state and know there is room for improvement. Our best days are ahead!

At the District level, we have some plans that may be of interest:

Middle College High School

PAUSD will launch a reimagined Middle College High School at Foothill College beginning Fall 2024. The program will be entirely operated by PAUSD, which is a major change from the past. Students and families should expect more information about this option for high school students in the upcoming months.

Math Acceleration

For students/families interested in math acceleration, revisions to the middle school math validation process will be shared no later than January 26.

Ethnic Studies

Progress on the creation of the Ethnic Studies graduation requirement course will continue to be shared routinely. A dedicated space on our website will appear soon to capture previous updates, upcoming meetings, and feedback opportunities.

Construction Bond Program

A discussion regarding the construction bond program will take place in February. Several large projects are drawing to a conclusion and others are nearing their launch. Visit our  School Construction page for periodic updates.

Early Literacy

Early Literacy remains a focus area. The next data review of i-Ready data will be shared in February. As a reminder, our growth in target groups has led the entire state for two years in a row. 

Mental Health

Another focus area is Mental Health. Additional resources for staff members are coming in the next couple of months. Student resources are robust, although we are always looking to improve and become more impactful.

Developing Leaders

Stability is becoming a hallmark of PAUSD for the first time in quite a while. Nearly 65% of our last 59 leadership positions have gone to internal candidates. Succession planning has been a priority for several years and we are seeing the benefits. This year marks the second year of a voluntary internal leadership institute. Employees have attended after-hours sessions from every seat in the District!

Early Literacy 


Teacher Librarians support the PAUSD Early Literacy and Equity Focus Goals through weekly instruction, connecting children to books, cultivating rich, diverse, and inclusive school libraries, and creating opportunities for students to meet and learn from children’s book authors.

In December, Barron Park Teacher Librarian Emily Laurance invited Vicki Fang, author of  Layla and the Bots, to visit Barron Park to kick off the book fair. In her previous career, Ms. Fang built robots, and now writes books about them for kids! She takes her experience and knowledge of this world and translates it into joyful and attainable stories for children ages, 5-8. After reading from her book  Alpha Bot, an interactive flip book that allows students to "build" a variety of bots, she engaged students in a lively discussion about what makes a robot a robot. The Barron Park scholars quickly offered their understanding of electricity and artificial intelligence. Students practiced actively listening, engaged thoughtfully with the author, gained insight into generating ideas for their writing, and left with smiles and signed bookmarks to use when they read!

Student Nutrition Services

The National Dairy Council Mobile Dairy Classroom  and Student Nutrition Serves will host assemblies at eight eligible PAUSD elementary sites in January and February 2024.

Cow on display from the Mobile Dairy Classroom program

The Mobile Dairy Classroom program specializes in educating elementary students on the importance of healthy eating, with the help of a live cow. Yes, you read correctly, a real live cow! The instructor will go through the lessons of life for a cow on a farm; the correlation between proper nutrition - for the cow and for students - and how milk ends up in the cafeteria. The focus is on the connection between healthy food and its importance for growth and development.

2024 dates are:

January 18 –     Walter Hays             February  05 –      El Carmelo

January 23 –      Palo Verde             February  07 –      Barron Park

January 24 –      Addison             February  08 –      Hoover / Greendell

January 30 –     Duveneck             February 12 –          Escondido

Student Nutrition Services Team

The Student Nutrition Services Department officially joins other District departments with professional and beautiful PAUSD branded uniforms!

Student Nutrion Services Team sitting on bleachers with new uniforms


Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA)

Gunn High School Wind Ensemble Saxophone Quartet  to perform at the International Saxophone Symposium.

Congratulations to the Gunn High School Wind Ensemble Saxophone Quartet (Triquetra Quartet)  on being accepted via a rigorous audition process to perform at the 44th US Navy Band International Saxophone Symposium. The High School Honors Recital will take place Saturday, January 13, 2024 at noon at George Mason University’s Harris Theatre in Fairfax, VA.  Learn more about the  International Saxophone Symposium.

Gunn High School Wind Ensemble Saxophone Quartet

Career-Themed Pathways Open House – Friday, January 19, 2024

PAUSD offers over 100 elective courses in Career Technical Education supporting pathways.

Courses include:

  • Arts
  • Media and Entertainment
  • Business and Finance
  • Education and Child Development
  • Engineering and Architecture
  • Fashion and Interior Design
  • Health Science and Medical Technology
  • Hospitality, Tourism, and Recreation/Culinary Science
  • Information and Communication Technologies
  • Transportation/Automotive Technology

All families are invited to explore the 2024 Career-Themed Pathways Open House, meet industry partners, learn about Middle College and Dual Enrollment at the Industry Expo. Enjoy light refreshments and swag (while supplies last)!

2024 Career-Themed Pathways Open House
January 19, 2024 – 3:30 pm
Palo Alto High School – Media Arts Center (MAC)
50 Embarcadero Road
Palo Alto, CA 94301


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