Mobile/Tablet Menu

Desktop Menu

Search Container

Superintendent's Update - May 12, 2023

Superintendent's Update - May 12, 2023

From the Office of the Superintendent: 


The Board agenda calendar can be found HERE.

It’s easy to forget that our schools went through an extended closure during the pandemic and the impacts are still being seen now. Students missed important transition points from elementary to middle school and we have seen that maturity and traditional academic growth were casualties. As we discuss the idea of accelerating academic classes in high school, it's important to keep this in mind.

While I truly understand the aspiration for academic excellence, I want to provide a gentle reminder to approach this journey with thoughtful consideration and find a healthy balance. Our district offers a wide range of challenging classes, but it's important to remember that education is about more than just striving to be at the top. Each student's growth and learning should unfold at a pace that feels right for them. Let's support them in finding their own path to success.

PAUSD will offer a limited pilot summer school program for rising 9th graders to take Geometry for original credit. Due to high demand, not all students will be able to take the course for credit in PAUSD. Summer school notifications will go out soon for planning purposes. Students wishing to take off-campus courses (non-PAUSD) must have prior approval. Please see the Gunn and Paly websites for more detailed information regarding off-campus courses.

As a superintendent and former high school principal, I can share my personal and professional thoughts on math acceleration. The rising 9th grade class is the first to default to Geometry or Geometry Honors (H). This is a full year of acceleration already baked into our core program. Students who take Geometry in abbreviated programs over the summer will not have an Honors option and will begin high school in Algebra II or higher. We believe students who are taking Geometry over the summer will likely attempt Algebra II/Trig H.

Transitioning to high school is challenging, and there are misconceptions about the realities of math placement. In the first month of this year, 36 students moved up a level between our two high schools, while over 290 moved down. Of those, more than 50 moved out of Algebra II/Trig H. Please consider this data when making a decision to place your 9th grader in the class most often dropped by older students.

I want to clarify that I'm not trying to win a debate or influence predetermined math pathways. There is no debate. Families have options this year that did not exist in the past. This is a simple caution from a veteran who has also received the same feedback from our two principals, counselors, and math departments. 

The end-of-year School News Roll Call publication is here. Read what principals are saying.

The district’s Special Olympics event is May 19 at Gunn High School. At least 400 students and staff from different schools within the district as well as neighboring schools in Mountain View and Menlo Park will be present for this track and field event. The student line-up begins at 9:45 a.m. The opening ceremony follows the parade of students. Running events include: a mile run, a 100-meter run, a 50-meter run, and a 25-meter wheelchair or walker assisted portion. Field events include: standing long jump, softball throw, and turbo jav throw. The events are scheduled to conclude at noon. 

One of the best ways to protect children from substance abuse is to educate them about risks. Do so by having regular and open conversations. Parents and friends should watch for changes in behavior including, but not limited to, irregular eating or sleep patterns, low energy, and a lack of interest in activities children once loved. Remember, any pill or powder not prescribed by a doctor may contain fentanyl. 

For additional facts about fentanyl, visit One Pill Can Kill.

Caring for the mental health of our students, staff, and families is essential. The area of mental health is one of the five priorities of the PAUSD Promise. The staff understands the critical need to support our community, both through preventative measures and impactful interventions. This month, the Mental Health team is shining a light on its commitment to ensure the mental health and well-being of the districtwide family. Through wellness activities and the sharing of resources, school sites are raising awareness about mental health in order to reduce stigmatization and increase accessibility to mental health support. 

Go behind the scenes and in the kitchen with PAUSD Nutrition Services. Credit is given to senior Morgan G. for her skills and time in the production of this video. A senior and future UC Davis biochemistry and molecular biology major is drawn to the on-going intersections of plant-based eating, the environment, nutrition, and animals.

Next school year, PAUSD will offer virtual therapy services to all middle and high school students through Mental Health Service’s partnership with tbh. The services include online individual and group coaching sessions, 1:1 therapy, online resources, and parent education. Students will have access to licensed tbh therapists in the evenings, on weekends, and during school breaks, including summer. Students may also self-refer through the Rapid ID portal for coaching sessions. The 1:1 therapy is reserved for students with acute needs and will be referred through the staff wellness team. Parent consent for tbh services will be required for all middle and high school students.

An information session with tbh is scheduled for May 22. It is combined with a parent education webinar featuring TEDx speaker and author Katherine Sellery. See details below. Secondary students and families will receive more information about tbh during the fall kick off now being planned.

Join Katherine Sellery, TEDx speaker, author, and parenting coach, for a live webinar on fostering a collaborative parent-child alliance. Katherine's presentation will focus on the topic of communication including the 3 R's (retaliation, rebellion, and resistance), which account for 75% of all behavioral disruptions. The event is free and open to all district parents. Pre-registration is required. Parents may register here.   

This event is offered as a part of PAUSD's partnership with tbh, which provides middle and high school students with inclusive, accessible, on-demand virtual mental health solutions that meet their unique needs. Beginning fall 2023, PAUSD secondary students will have access to individual and group-based virtual counseling sessions with licensed mental health professionals at no out-of-pocket cost. More information about tbh services will be provided during the webinar.

Educational Services staff continues to work with the State of California to reduce the number of African American, Latino, and English Learners disproportionately identified as having a specific learning disability. This outreach is a part of the Comprehensive Coordinated Early Intervening Services (CCEIS) process. Aspects of this work include the implementation of a K-12 level universal screener in reading, the i-Ready Diagnostic Reading Assessment, which allows the district to learn about the strengths and areas for reading development of all students. Educators use this information to provide high-quality core instruction and interventions based on student assessment results. In addition, a CCEIS-funded reading specialist and a Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) reading coach are working at designated sites at the K-12 level to revise our system and reflect the strengths and identified areas of need. With the ongoing professional learning provided by the Special Education Department on assessment and English Language Learners, the CCEIS work is central to our PAUSD Promise goals.

The ELLC is honoring the commitment and contributions to equity, inclusion, and belonging during this school year. A May 24 recognition will celebrate the PAUSD’s milestone while understanding that the district’s journey is still beginning. Members of the cohort (including teachers, principals, staff) are stronger and wiser at the end of this school year, and they continue to support each school. This group continues the necessary work for transformation in our schools and classrooms, making their respective locations more equitable learning environments. This growth is highlighted as a priority in the district’s Promise. The year’s final session also takes place on May 24.

Serving on the frontlines, classified employees partner with teachers and other district staff to strengthen schools. The added value of classified employees often goes unnoticed. PAUSD is highly appreciative of the work, time, and energy dedicated to the livelihood of the district given by each classified employee. These invaluable staff members represent, but are not limited to: transportation, nurses, school safety, front office staff, custodians, paraeducators, maintenance, electricians, nutrition service, attendance, information technology, registration, and facilities. In 1986 the California Senate began recognizing the third week in May as Classified Employee Week.

The Art Show continues through May 20 at the Palo Alto Art Center, 1313 Newell Road in Palo Alto. The Art Center is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Visit the Career Themed Pathways Open House on Friday May 19 beginning at 3:30 p.m. This event will showcase various Career Technical Education programs from all middle and high school sites. Pathways represented include: Arts, Media and Entertainment; Business and Finance; Engineering and Architecture; Fashion and Interior Design; Health Science and Medical Technology; Hospitality, Tourism, and Recreation/Culinary Science; and Information and Communication Technologies. 

The culinary science programs will provide light refreshments. In addition, you are invited to explore the student job fair, meet industry partners at the Quad Industry Expo, and visit the Child Development program in the Media Arts Center (MAC). Questions may be sent to to gain additional information regarding the Open House.