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Superintendent's Update - September 22, 2023

Superintendent's Update - September 22, 2023


From the Office of the Superintendent: 



View Calendar of Board Items 2023-24


A Bus Ride Toward Equity and Excellence:  Professor and Comic Wisdom

A recent visit to an arts and lecture series featuring Bettina Love, Ph.D., and Kamau Bell allowed more than 50 faculty, staff, and district supporters to spend time expanding the understanding of antiracism and challenges relating to this matter. 

These two widely-known figures engaged in conversation regarding racial equity and highlighted the fact that needed discussions remain central to efforts regarding changes and perspectives within the education system. Such discussions prompt vision and action worthy to all educators and school systems. 

This district-wide participation exemplifies interest and dedication to expand knowledge and incorporate a diverse outlook. The wisdom shared by Dr. Love and Mr. Bell inspires and informs both thinking and practice. This enriching experience took place September 20 at San Francisco’s Sydney Goldstein Theater in the presence of educators from numerous districts within and beyond the Bay Area. It brings to light a needed continuance to check and change systems in need of building a foundation focused on and dedicated to Equity and Excellence. 

Special thanks to Transportation Department’s Shawn Robertson for his expertise and skilled driving during congested traffic, across skyways, and through narrow city streets alongside an excited group led by Assistant Superintendent Yolanda Conaway.


Expanded Learning in Palo Alto Unified

In response to a PAUSD waitlist involving the Expanded Learning Opportunities Program (ELOP), Palo Alto Community Child Care (PACCC) opened an additional 70 ELOP spaces in its Kids’ Clubs. PACCC continues to support local working families via government and private funding. As part of the Education Code, the legislature has focused on programs that supplement school-day learning. Such additions are intended to not only augment academic needs, but also support the emotional, physical, and social needs of children both before and after school and also during summer or intersession learning programs.


High School Fall Theatre Productions

Palo Alto High School Theatre presents Little Women on September 23, 24, and 30, at 7 p.m., and September 24, at 2 p.m. The musical follows the adventures of sisters Jo, Meg, Beth, and Amy March growing up in Massachusetts during the Civil War. Jo is trying to sell her stories for publication, but when the publishers are not interested, her friend, Professor Bhaer, tells her that she has to do better and write more from herself. Begrudgingly taking this advice, Jo weaves the story of her family and friends through their heartaches and hopes, and the determination to make their mark on the world. The show's duration is two hours and 20 minutes, including a 15-minute intermission. This show is appropriate for all ages, but it is recommended for ages eight and older due to its duration. See this timeless story in the intimate setting of the historic Haymarket Theatre. All seats are general admission. Tickets are available here

Gunn High School presents Broadway Workshop on September 28 and 29, at 7 p.m., in the Little Theatre. Join this showcase of scenes from recent Broadway/Off-Broadway productions. Musical numbers from Come From Away and Merrily We Roll Along, as well as scenes from Rajiv Joseph’s Describe the Night, Tom Stoppard’s Leopoldstadt, and Lucas Hnath’s A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay About the Death of Walt Disney are featured in the production. Seniors and staff are directing, and some of the newest members of the Gunn Theatre community are performing in their first Gunn Theatre project. This 90-minute performance should not be missed. There is NO cost for admission.




Hispanic Heritage Month 2023   

September 15 to October 15 brings the celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. The month offers a golden opportunity to enrich understanding and deepen appreciation for the diversity that strengthens the community fabric. Recognizing and celebrating the vast array of backgrounds and stories that our Hispanic and Latino students, staff, and families bring to the PAUSD school community is essential. This recognized time honors contributions from Hispanic and Latino Americans in our nation’s history, culture, and society.

PAUSD is excited to celebrate this rich tapestry across our schools and communities. Schools traditionally host a variety of activities to honor and celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month including:  cultural showcases, food fiestas, visual and performing arts shows, film festivals, and more. Contact your school to learn more, to offer insights, or to help during this time of celebration. 



Upcoming Student Survey / Mental Health

Your child's perspective provides invaluable insights to help guide the district when making necessary improvements and addressing unique needs. As mentioned in the recent Parent Square message to families, students in Grades 3 and above will participate in the Student Well-Being Survey between September 26 and October 6. 

The five to six-minute survey is given during the school day. Student responses are confidential but not anonymous since the survey allows the wellness team to better offer support. If parents or guardians do not want a student to take the Student Well-Being Survey, please indicate the preference in the Parent Square post or in an email to Dawn Yoshinaga, at stating the decision not to have a student participate in the survey.

Questions or concerns regarding the survey should be directed to site principals.


Volunteer to Help the School Safety and Resilience Development Program 

Parents, guardians, and students are able to support school safety. The public school system is inherently structured in tiers encompassing certificated staff, classified staff, parents / guardians, and students. These layers fulfill vital roles, which include ensuring safety and resilience within the system. PAUSD is currently in search of individuals within the school community (for each site) who are willing to volunteer and help enrich the School Safety and Resilience Development Program. This approach, centered around community involvement, serves as a cornerstone to foster a secure and sustainable educational environment. 

During the summer, the commencement of this program involved the participation of three students from Gunn High School and two students from Palo Alto High School. These five students acquired certifications in CPR, AED, First Aid, Stop the Bleed, and other essential skills. They add an instrumental role in enhancing the preparedness of schools for the 2023 - 2024 school year. Furthermore, the students' involvement in this initiative not only allowed them to accumulate community service hours, but they also earned credits in Career and Technical Education (CTE).

Adults and students interested in participating in this school safety outreach should use one of the following links to access the online application. Students should only use the student volunteer link below.

Adult Volunteer Link

Student Volunteer Link


Transition Partnership Workability Program

The PAUSD Transition Partnership Workability Program aims to support students with disabilities. Students are assisted with acquiring skills and given support to enter the workforce or transition to post-secondary education. This program includes job training, job placement services, career counseling, and other resources to help individuals with disabilities achieve employment and educational goals. A team from the California Department of Rehabilitation (DOR) visited the PAUSD Workability Program and gained feedback from staff, students, and both parents and guardians. The team was not only impressed with the PAUSD students' growth, but also appreciated the way staff and family partnered to support students in their need to develop job skills. The DOR team also spent time at the Veterans Affairs Hospital and observed students and staff at work. This opportunity provides students with practical, real-world experience, thus enhancing their employability. It also fosters a culture of mentorship, knowledge transfer, and innovation within organizations.


District Food Services




  • The PAUSD Student Nutrition Services department is maintained by 48 Palo Alto Unified School District employees:  one child nutrition administrator, one central kitchen supervisor, one field supervisor, one child nutrition account clerk, 44 child nutrition staff). Additionally, one consultant supports the district from Sodexo School Services as the Chef / Manager.

  • All food for PAUSD school breakfast and school lunch programs is prepared within PAUSD schools. The Jane Lathrop Stanford Middle School kitchen serves as the Central Kitchen for the district and prepares the food for all elementary sites and for the JLS middle school students. All other secondary school sites (Fletcher Middle, Greene Middle, Gunn High, Palo Alto High) have kitchens and prepare food for their students. 

  • PAUSD Student Nutrition Services serves approximately 6,000 meals each school day and has served more than one million meals during each of the last two school years.
  • All PAUSD Student Nutrition Staff are certified through the ServSafe Food Manager course. ServSafe is administered by the National Restaurant Association. The ServSafe program provides food safety training, exams, and educational materials to foodservice managers.
  • The meal programs currently provided to all school sites within PAUSD are not mandatory. If parents and guardians have specific food items desired for children or are not comfortable with food items prepared by Student Nutrition Services, students are welcome to bring home-prepared meals.



Palo Alto Community Advisory Council’s Family Fun Day Carnival

Join the fun at the Community Advisory Council (CAC) for Special Education during Palo Alto’s annual Family Fun Day Carnival on Saturday, September 23, between 3 and 5 p.m. The gathering takes place on the inclusive playground at Addison Elementary School. 

All families of children with IEPs, 504s, or learning differences are invited to attend. Family members are welcome to enjoy the Carnival. The event offers:  fun games, story time, STEM, arts and crafts, popcorn, cookies, and more. Thanks to the following groups for hosting activities at the event:  Gunn High School students, Palo Alto Fire Department, Innovation for Youth, Boy Scout Troop 52, Paly Child Development and Pathway students, Hoover Elementary Hedgedroid team, and Ms. Chen (music therapist).

Please RSVP here. See the flier and map as needed. The event is sponsored by the Palo Alto CAC for Special Education, Palo Alto Council of PTAs, and PAUSD. Contact with questions.


As LUCK Would Have It

Cardinal Andrew Luck occasionally spends time helping the Vikings prepare for the gridiron during practice. After leaving the NFL, Luck is delighted to help students in his community. NBC Bay Area recently spoke to Coach De Geronimo to highlight what Luck brings to the team.


PAUSD / Parent Teacher Advisory Council (PTAC) Parent Education Series

Palo Alto Unified School Unified School District is excited to announce a virtual parent workshop night on Thursday, September 28 (6 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.), designed to empower and support parents in their crucial role as partners in their children's education. This event aims to provide parents and guardians with valuable resources and insights to help students thrive academically from the comfort of home. The district recognizes the significance of parental involvement in a student's academic journey. The virtual workshop night will cover a range of topics, including career-themed pathways, navigating digital learning platforms, and fostering a positive home-learning environment. The aim is to create an environment where all students can reach their full potential.

Access descriptions and register for available parent behavioral sessions, and use the FORM to select two sessions in which you are most interested in attending virtually.

Register for virtual sessions


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