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Superintendent's Update - September 29, 2023

Superintendent's Update - September 29, 2023

From the Office of the Superintendent:


View Calendar of Board Items 2023-24


The format of our Friday Updates will change a little bit moving forward. A parent noticed that I didn't write the first section of our last report. I was out of town and she was correct. In the future, my messages will have a title to make it clear that I am the author. Other sections are contributed by many people. My messages will typically be more global than some of the specific information in the other sections.

In our school district and community, we have a wealth of brilliant minds. My role entails harnessing these ideas, aligning resources with our priorities, and managing expectations. Even within our closest teams, proposals can sometimes clash. This became evident in a recent meeting where 27 individuals gathered with a common goal of enhancing conditions for both staff and students. The room was divided into five groups, each focused on different aspects of the same overarching issues. When it came time to present proposals, it was apparent that some presentations featured incompatible solutions. While some suggested reductions, others advocated for additions, and there were also discussions about reallocations. In a room with just 27 people divided into five groups, we generated at least three distinct approaches to address the same problem. That's Palo Alto for you! The challenge lies in arriving at a single solution without disenfranchising the majority of the group. In certain instances, we can find compromises or blend ideas, but in others, this simply isn't feasible.

Regarding the outcome of our meeting with the team, we emphasized the importance of articulating ideas as clearly and precisely as possible. Some ideas naturally stand out, while others may not gain as much traction. We dedicated time to discussing the significance of actively participating and pushing the boundaries of group thinking when opportunities arise. Ultimately, our aim is for 4/5 of the group not to feel as though their contributions were dismissed. We want everyone to recognize their role in the process. It's not about how the adults feel in the moment; it's about our collective commitment to improvement on behalf of our students and staff. It's no easy task!

In the coming months, we will face some challenging decisions. It's common for us to focus on the negatives and overlook our victories along the way. Instead, we would all likely benefit from engaging in discussions, evaluating outcomes over time, and making necessary revisions.


The yearly Niche rankings confirmed PAUSD as the top school district in California.

The depth and breadth of programs offered at PAUSD remains unparalleled across the state. Coupled with exceptional student achievement and overwhelming satisfaction, PAUSD is a fixture at the top of the ranking system seen as the "gold standard" in education.

Having served in leadership positions in four of the top 25 school districts in California, I can see why we are regularly viewed as exemplary. We have one of the lowest student to staff ratios in public education as confirmed by School Services of California. Our commitment of over $1 million per year for professional development keeps our staff positioned to serve students at the highest level. Facilities construction bonds, Partners in Education (PiE) contributions, PTA participation, and parcel taxes provided by our community keep class sizes low, classrooms beautiful, and students engaged.

The PAUSD Promise is a driving force in our success, leading to unprecedented success for students. Sustained equity work has taken root, meaning more students are experiencing success than at any time in the district's history. Our future is bright. No other school district in California can say they are #1 and only getting better!


October begins National Farm to School Month and the PAUSD Student Nutrition Services department has several featured events to mark the occasion.

From October 2-6, PAUSD joins California schools to celebrate Crunch It Munch It Week and take one collective bite of locally grown fruits and vegetables to celebrate local farms and healthy eating. Produce will be featured from the following farms this week: Kingsburg Orchards-Fresno, Taylor Farms-Salinas, HMC Farm-Fresno, Peterson Farms-Merced, and Lipman Farms-San Joaquin.

Grab your Crunch It Munch It sticker to show that you tried some of the locally grown produce.


In celebration of National School Lunch Week from October 9-13, the Student Nutrition Services department will host the Annual Tasting Day on Monday, October 9 at the JLS breezeway from 11:00 a.m.-1 p.m. Students, parents, and staff are welcome to come taste the new entrees, salads, and breakfast items we are working on utilizing locally grown produce and provisions. Cast your vote for the items you want added to the upcoming menus.


All elementary school sites will participate in the "Guess the Weight of the Pumpkin" contest from October 16-26. Locally grown pumpkins, ballot boxes, and ballot slips will arrive at sites by October 16. All winning guesses will be announced Monday, October 30.


Thank you to those who attended PAUSD's Educational Services virtual parent workshops this past week. We're excited to announce the next installment in our Parent Education Series, featuring Mr. Josh Ochs from Smart Social, who will guide you on how to Shine Online and gain valuable insights into helping your child navigate the digital world safely and responsibly. It's an event you won't want to miss!

Date: Thursday, October 19th

Time: 6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

Location: Haymarket Theater, Palo Alto High School

Format: Live and in-person

Keep an eye on your Parentsquare email next week for registration details, and be sure to save the date! We look forward to seeing you at this fantastic live event. Thank you for your continued commitment to your child's education and well-being. Together, we can empower our children to shine brightly in the online world.


With evolving technology and advancement in various industry sectors, connection to leading industry partners strengthens our Career Themed Pathway programs and helps to prepare our students for the future.

We have established an innovative and collaborative partnership with our local Volvo Cars Palo Alto and McLauren San Francisco dealerships. They have supported our programs and students in multiple ways already. They are sponsoring the Fletcher Sustainability pathway by contributing to the Sustainability Fall Speaker Series as well as upcoming field trips. In addition, students from the Palo Alto High School Automotive program attended the first of a "Lunch and Learn" series. Finally, Gunn High School students attended a career speaker event on diversity and inclusion of women in the Automotive industry held by Women's Circle.

Partners like Volvo Cars Palo Alto and McLauren San Francisco make a true difference for PAUSD students giving them an opportunity to see themselves in a career pathway and build relationships with mentors. If you would like to provide PAUSD students with an industry perspective (career speaker, company tour, mentorship, etc.) then Get Involved by completing this Let's Talk form.

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