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Superintendent's Update - November 3, 2023

Superintendent's Update - November 3, 2023

From the Office of the Superintendent:

Board Agenda Calendar

View Calendar of Board Items 2023-24 


Superintendent’s Message

As we gather for our regular Friday Update, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on some essential aspects of our journey together in the Palo Alto Unified School District.

Challenges, as we all know, don’t merely appear to test us, but reveal our strengths and illuminate opportunities for growth. Conflict, too, can be a necessary catalyst for refining our ideas and approaches. It could be as straightforward as debating the best way to handle Halloween costumes on our school sites or as intricate as navigating complex global affairs. In our role, we must create an open space where discussions can flourish, even when individuals may not always achieve their desired outcomes.

As we navigate the predictable cycles of the school year, October and May typically emerge as the most demanding months for various reasons. It is a pattern we see each year. If you or your family have felt the weight of increased stress, please know that this can be part of the natural ebb and flow of school life. The encouraging news is that these school-related challenges usually begin to ease in November and December.

Amidst these challenges, there are countless moments of triumph worth celebrating. Our district is buzzing with performing arts activities, and we see our students thriving in these creative settings. Academically, our students continue to achieve remarkable things. A higher percentage of our 9th graders are now enrolled in Geometry or higher-level courses compared to previous years. This reflects our commitment to academic excellence, but we also recognize that it can bring its own set of pressures. If the academic workload ever feels overwhelming, I encourage you to maintain open lines of communication with your teachers and counselors. This applies to all subjects and demands, although we do devote considerable time and effort to Mathematics!

Together, we can embrace challenges, celebrate achievements, and ensure that every member of our community finds their path to success.

Thank you for your unwavering commitment to the Palo Alto Unified School District. Everyone has earned a weekend!

High School Math

We would like to thank our students for their input regarding PAUSD’s mathematics course offerings and sequence. As stated at a recent Board meeting, AP Calculus BC is and will remain the highest-level course taught by PAUSD teachers. Since classes above AP Calculus BC are college level, we are in communication with Foothill College and exploring the possibility of next school year for them to offer their Multivariable Calculus course on-site at both of our high schools after school. However, there is no guarantee of enrollment, availability, or the location where the class will be held.

In addition, we want to provide clarity regarding World Language courses being taken off campus and added to PAUSD’s transcripts, as there seems to be confusion on how this applies to other courses, such as advanced math. As stated in  AR 6146.11, the district shall grant credit for world language studies successfully completed in a private school and shall apply the credit toward meeting any world language requirement (2-year/Level 2 requirement) prescribed for grades 9-12, provided that all of the following conditions are met: (Education Code 51243-51245; 5 CCR 1632)

  1. The courses are in languages designated in Education Code 51244 and not offered in PAUSD.

  2. The institution offering the instruction is accredited by WASC or other accreditation institutions. For California institutions, the course must be UC-approved.

  3. Prior approval is needed, and the student must submit an official transcript from the private school showing successful course completion.

  4. Courses taken off-campus with prior approval will be listed with the grade and credit received on the PAUSD transcript and will be included in the GPA.

  5. The amount of credit sought equals at least one semester's work.

Institutional Review Board (IRB) Committee

The Institutional Review Board (IRB) committee met this week to evaluate staff and students’ research proposals for any risk of psychological, physical, legal, social, or economic harm, or unethical practices. Twenty-four proposals were reviewed during the fall review, covering AP Research proposals as well as proposals sponsored by research institutions. Our spring review is scheduled for January 2024. Researchers studying human or animal subjects to share outside of the classroom setting must submit their project proposals to the IRB for approval (BP 6162.8).

Palo Alto Unified School District Middle College (PAUSD MC) and College Now!

The Palo Alto Board of Education approved Palo Alto hosted Middle College and College Now! for the 2023-24 school year at the  October 24, 2023, Board meeting. PAUSD students who participate in the Middle College and College Now! programs, both offered on the Foothill Campus, were serviced through a long-standing partnership with Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District (MVLA). Beginning with the 2024-25 school year, PAUSD is ready to manage both programs in-house, rather than contracting out. To facilitate a smooth transition with MLVA, current 11th graders will continue to attend the program via MLVA through 12th grade in 2024-25. Staff will collaborate with neighboring school districts to establish connections and ensure seamless integration. Additionally, they will actively engage with educators, administrators, and various stakeholders to shape programs that not only meet but exceed the academic needs and aspirations of our students. More information will be coming soon.

PAUSD Parent Education Workshops/YMCA Project Cornerstone

Palo Alto Unified School District is delighted to partner with the YMCA Project Cornerstone. We have planned a series of three workshops for our parent community. The workshops will be virtual on Zoom and all parents/guardians from Palo Alto Unified School District are invited to attend! Parents can register for one, two, or all three of the workshops!

The workshops will be from 7 pm - 8:30 pm on Zoom on the following dates and topics:

  • November 13: Creating Caring Relationships

  • February 6: Boundaries that Teach

  • April 23: Managing Stress and Fostering Resilience

You can  sign up here.



New Mural at the District Office

In October, the VAPA department completed a new Mural at the District Office. To offer you a glimpse into the mural creative process, here are a few images documenting the mural's creation. A special thank you goes out to Eddie Ramirez, one of our dedicated Spectra Art teachers, and our Middle and High School students who played an integral role in designing and painting the mural.

What is Linktree?

Linktree is your new quick link to the Palo Alto Unified School District.  Take a look here.