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Superintendent's Update - September 1, 2023

Superintendent's Update - September 1, 2023

From the Office of the Superintendent:



View Calendar of Board Items 2023-24 



Our schools are looking like they have been open for months already! Classes are jumping with exciting activities, our facilities look great, teams and performing groups are in motion, and schedules seem to be settled. School years go quickly. Although it's only the first day of September, I'd encourage our staff and families to cherish each day. 

The best stage of a school career is TODAY! Over my time in education, I have seen an increase in people so worried about the future that they don't have permission to enjoy today. Sometimes, a sixth grade student still wants to stand in the rain. A ninth grade student may still enjoy card games started in elementary school. Some kids don't want to rush to get a driver's license, no matter how much we tell them how it was in our day!

I love the stages in the lives of our students. Each is special and is usually better to not be rushed. There are things we are supposed to learn at each stage, far beyond academics. "Age-appropriate" has an actual meaning that can be lost when the race becomes more important than embracing the current moment. I am as guilty as anyone when it comes to not always taking the time to enjoy a sunset, the smell of freshly cut grass, the sound of kids playing in the distance, the smile of a stranger passing during a walk, and chirping of birds. None of those things occur behind the screen of a computer or in an isolated room. That's true for our students, our staff, and our families. Let's embrace TODAY! 


Food Served within the District

In order to maintain quality guidelines, parents and students are reminded that all breakfast and lunch are to be consumed during meal hours at school. Food transported home will lose quality after being exposed to improper temperatures.

All parents are reminded that our students are still our top priority. This recent August food incident was reported to the health department, and the Nutrition Services team has reviewed quality control procedures in response to an equipment malfunction.

In addition to contacting and working with the local health department, here are other steps staff members have taken:

  • Inspected all of the warming boxes used within food services

  • Completed an internal check of thermostats inside all refrigerators

  • Reinsured that the Nutrition Services staff monitors food temperatures

  • Informed Nutrition Services staff of the importance to observe fan (cooling areas) on refrigerators

PAUSD contacted and met with the Santa Clara County Department of Environmental Health. After multiple inspections to our schools, GREEN RATINGS have been given to our impacted sites. These ratings signify that district facilities are exemplifying safe food practices. Our central kitchen facility is being given an additional focus to ensure practices remain in compliance with safety regulations.

Please know that all kitchen sites are inspected two times each year without a request from the district. These inspections are required by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the California Department of Education (CDE).

Additionally, the Santa Clara County Office of Public Health conducted a separate investigation into the service of the August 14 meal. After this departmental review, the investigation has been completed and labeled “closed” as of August 24, 2023, finding no on-going need to further investigate.

Nutrition Service staff has been focused on providing our students with safe, healthy, and nutritious meals. The staff daily monitors food and equipment temperatures to ensure food products are prepared and served in a safe manner and looks forward to continuously serving daily breakfast and lunch.

Additional Checkpoints to Ensure Food Quality in PAUSD:

  • Temperature of all refrigeration equipment and hot-holding equipment is recorded two times each day.

  • Temperature of all food delivered from the central kitchen is logged when the food arrives.

  • The district staff is following the Santa Clara Office of Environmental Health regulation regarding time and temperature relating to the storage of food products.


What is LinkTree ?

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


New Course Guidelines

According to Board Policy 6143, the Superintendent shall recommend courses of study to the Board by December for implementation in the following school year. The courses submitted are vetted through the established process.

Input from content area teachers, Instructional Leads, and the Instructional/Education Council has been incorporated into the design of recommended courses. The site principals review the recommendations and approve the courses for consideration by the respective District Content Area Steering Committees. The District Content Area Steering Committees review the courses and recommend the approval of courses to the Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Education.


“LIVE” from New York !

Payton being welcomed to CBS in New York


Spending time with anchor Gayle King

Selected from a national search and because of her interest in journalism, Payton Lee of Fletcher Middle expanded her horizon by spending her Thursday morning with CBS Morning crew:  Gayle King, Tony Dokoupil, and Nate Burleson. Her on-air experience can be seen here during the Talk of the Table. 


NBC Bay Area Interviews Gunn High International History Award Winner

Gunn High junior Abhivir Iyer received the honor of being interviewed by NBC Bay Area news anchor Raj Mathai. Hear about Iyer’s love for history.


The Palo Alto Office of Transportation Wants You to Know

  • Between September 5 and September 8, Caltrain will be performing potholing work in Palo Alto. The work will require a partial closure of Alma Street at East Meadow Drive and Alma Street at Charleston Road railroad crossings to vehicle, bicycle, and pedestrian traffic. 

  • The temporary closures are required due to construction equipment and crews entering and exiting the Caltrain right-of-way. Work will take place between 9:00 a.m. and 3 p.m., on Tuesday through Friday. City staff is coordinating with Caltrain, including the approval of permits for the work to be performed. 


District Multi-Tiered Student Support (MTSS) Framework Development: Collaborative Progress

Over the past month, an exciting initiative has been set in motion as the district focuses on the development of a comprehensive Multi-Tiered Student Support (MTSS) framework. This ambitious undertaking involves close collaboration among various division leaders across the district, including those in behavior, student services, literacy, mental health, and wellness. 

The Multi-Tiered Student Support (MTSS) framework's development directly aligns with the district's priority goals as outlined in The Promise. This initiative not only demonstrates a commitment to early literacy, equity, and excellence but also embraces innovation and places significant emphasis on enhancing mental health and wellness. By weaving these priorities into the fabric of the MTSS framework, the district is forging a comprehensive and forward-thinking approach to education that encompasses the holistic well-being and academic growth of every student.

Collaborative Efforts

A remarkable aspect of this endeavor is the collaboration underway between these division leaders. By pooling their expertise, insights, and perspectives, they are working towards creating a unified and effective approach to supporting students at different levels of need. This collaborative effort ensures that the framework being developed is both comprehensive and holistic, addressing a wide range of student needs.

MTSS Learning Discussions: Gaining Insights

In the past two weeks, significant progress has been made through a series of MTSS Learning discussions. These discussions have brought together principals and MTSS leadership teams from key educational sites including Barron Park, Juana Briones, Fairmeadow, Gunn, Hoover, Nixon, and Paly. The purpose of these discussions is to gain a deeper understanding of the current problem-solving and intervention practices at each site.

Sharing Best Practices

Through these discussions, valuable insights were gleaned regarding the existing practices and strategies employed across various sites. The goal was to identify common practices that could potentially be integrated into the district-wide MTSS framework. This collaborative approach ensures that the final framework is not only informed by research and expertise, but also rooted in practical, real-world applications.

Data Empowerment: Panorama Student Success System Implementation

An exciting development in this journey towards effective student support is the integration of data empowerment tools. Fall i-Ready scores, real-time attendance data, and behavior data have now been seamlessly integrated into the Panorama Student Success System. This innovative system provides teachers and site teams with an at-a-glance dashboard view of crucial information.

Efficiency and Focus on Student Success

This integration eliminates the need for administrators and staff to spend extensive time collecting and analyzing data from various information systems. Instead, they can now access current, school- and student-level data on a daily basis. This newfound efficiency frees up valuable time, allowing educators to concentrate on what matters most:  utilizing data to provide targeted support and interventions for their students.

In essence, the district's journey towards developing a Multi-Tiered Student Support framework is characterized by collaborative efforts, data-driven empowerment, and a keen focus on optimizing student success. Through shared insights and streamlined data access, the district is poised to enhance its ability to provide comprehensive support tailored to each student's unique needs. This promising initiative reflects the district's commitment to continuous improvement and its unwavering dedication to fostering a supportive and thriving learning environment for all students.


Behavior Support

Student behavioral needs have risen nation-wide since the offset of the pandemic; PAUSD responded to this rising need through the formation of an Ad-Hoc committee during the 2022 - 2023 school year in an effort to promote a solution-oriented approach and address this issue. Additionally, PAUSD took the following measures as a continued effort to address behavioral concerns and help ensure the safety of students and staff across the district:

Behavior Support Team Expansion

  • PAUSD invested heavily in the expansion of the Behavior Support Team. The expansion of the Behavior Team consisted of adding 12 new Behavior Intervention Coach (BIC) positions. Every school site has a dedicated BIC to support general education and special education students. BICs provide school personnel with behavior support, coach staff on student-specific behavioral interventions, provide behavioral crisis support, collect data, and assist staff with the implementation of behavior plans or strategies/interventions that will help support individual students or the entire classroom.

Professional Development

  • On August 21, 2023, the Behavior Support Team led a district-wide professional development training on Understanding and Managing Behavior. Attendees received information regarding managing behavior within the classroom and during crisis scenarios. More than 1,300 staff members attended including:  teachers, principals, custodians, food service employees, instructional assistants, bus drivers, and administrators.

De-Escalation Training

  • Monthly de-escalation training will take place throughout the 2023 - 2024 school year. In addition to learning student replacement behaviors, staff attending this training are taught skills to prevent, minimize, and manage behavioral challenges with student dignity and safety in mind.


Free Airport Day in Palo Alto

Gain more details for the September community Airport Day



Stanford Athletics

PAUSD students are invited to be a part of athletic action at Stanford University this year. More information can be found here.

Click on the link below to receive up to four free youth tickets (with a paid adult) at upcoming Stanford athletic events.

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