April 19, 2019

Superintendent’s Office


Full details for the upcoming agenda can be found through BoardDocs. The agenda for our April 23 meeting contains the following topics of interest:


  • Status update for the expansion of Transitional Kindergarten (TK) classes at Duveneck and Barron Park.
  • Palo Alto Community Child Care (PACCC) administers the Child Care and Development contracts for PAUSD. The report will examine finances of PACCC directly related to the grant administration for roughly 70 children.


  • A written report of the General Counsel impact regarding tasks and reduction of outside legal bills will appear on the agenda.
  • The Palo Alto Education Association (PAEA) Tentative Agreement will appear under Information while we await ratification from PAEA members. Terms for the agreement are contained below.


PAUSD and the PAEA have reached a tentative agreement, subject to ratification of the Board of Education and PAEA members.

PAUSD met with PAEA on September 27, 2018 for an update regarding the District’s budget, as well as recommendations from the Joint Benefits Committee. The parties met again on October 16 and 17 for a joint training regarding Interest-Based Bargaining (IBB).

PAEA and District teams met nine additional times leading up to the tentative agreements signed on April 15, 2019. Once ratified by the Board of Education and PAEA members, the three-year agreement will close negotiations for this year.

Medical, dental, and vision insurance benefits were settled in October, due to the benefits year running over a calendar year (January 1-December 31) as opposed to a fiscal year. The benefits agreement provided for increased District contribution in the amount of approximately $440,000. 

The 2% mid-year on salary schedule increase for certificated staff is a $1.2M cost for the 2018-19 school year, and thereafter is a $2.4M ongoing cost. The 2% one-time, off-the-schedule payment is a one-time cost of approximately $2.4M.

Education Services


For the fourth year in a row, PAUSD is offering select middle school students an engaging summer school experience. Students not meeting or nearly meeting standards on the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) test have the opportunity to participate in STREAM, an interdisciplinary, thematic, and project-based approach to Science, Technology, Reading & Writing, Engineering, Art, Mathematics & Movement. Planning is underway for the June 6-July 3 session, and teachers and principals will meet on April 24 to develop curriculum and iron out the many practical details that go into making summer school a success.


Secondary District Teachers on Special Assignments (TOSAs) met this week with JLS English teachers to review and discuss an analysis of the relationship between the JLS CWA results and the SBA for English Language Arts (ELA) scores for last year’s students. The analysis showed a strong correlation between the CWA, an in-house essay assessment that students take every year during winter quarter, and the SBA. Teachers also reflected on questions of genre and rubric in preparation for three release days in May. On the release days, teachers from all three middle schools will be developing Districtwide CWAs for grades 6, 7, and 8.


The Middle School Science Textbook Advisory Committee (MS TSAC) has voted to continue the pilot phase in the 2019-20 school year. Data collected after initial pilots of Bring Science Alive! Teachers’ Curriculum Institute (TCI) and Inspire Science (McGraw Hill) was not compelling enough to call for a positive recommendation at this time. The committee has done an expert job of analyzing and discussing data from a pilot group encompassing more than 1,500 students, their parents/guardians, and 21 teachers. The committee has also identified the pros and cons of each of our first two publishers. The same members will continue this work into next school year and will plan additional pilot phases at our next meeting on April 25. All meetings are open to the public. Interested persons can find out more about the process at our website.


PAUSD staff has invested time this year looking into a variety of factors to positively impact elementary Voluntary Transfer Program (VTP) student experiences. Two specific circumstances are being addressed through our school placement process:

  1. Length of bus ride; and 
  2. Isolation of students at a school site when numbers are small.

PAUSD has closed new VTP student enrollment at Palo Verde, Barron Park, Juana Briones, and Nixon. Families of existing VTP students at these sites have been contacted and offered voluntary transfers if they wish. There is no requirement or expectation that existing students relocate their school sites. Instead, there may be an interest in some students attending schools closer to their homes or requiring a shorter bus ride. 


On Thursday, April 11, elementary summer school teachers and staff met for the first time to kick off the upcoming summer program. The summer school programs will be held at Ohlone Elementary and El Carmelo Elementary from June 6-July 3. The entire staff is made up of 24 teachers and 2 campus supervisors. The summer Science Technology Engineering Art & Math (STEAM) program will continue providing students with enrichment opportunities that focus on Science, Math, and Engineering projects. The program will also add a literacy block that will by supported by two reading specialists who will be working with small groups in each classroom. The summer school teachers will continue their collaboration by meeting several more times to prepare for Summer School 2019.


The end of the school year brings many performances and celebrations of achievement for students participating in the Arts.

The PAUSD Student Art Show is being installed at the Palo Alto Art Center (PAAC).  Thank you to the Art Education Assistant and Show Curator, the PAUSD Visual Arts Staff, SPECTRA Art, and the PAAC staff for their gracious help and support as we prepare to display 400+ works of student art. The gallery will be open to the public April 27-May 19, with a reception on May 1, at 4:30 p.m. 

On Friday, April 12, the Gunn Wind Ensemble performed at the California State Educators Association (CMEA) State Band and Orchestra Festival at Sonoma State University. Students performed a challenging program and received a unanimous Superior rating!  

On Sunday, April 26, at the Paly Performing Arts Center, Paly Choirs will present a festival of songs, themedBeyond the Stars. Their performance will be combined with John Williams’ film score, “Star Wars,” Christopher Tin’s Grammy Award Winning “Baba Yetu,” and Morten Lauridsen’s seminal work "Lux Aeterna.” The choirs will be accompanied by a professional chamber orchestra.

Next Friday and Saturday, April 26 and 27, Palo Alto and Gunn High School Music Departments will host the California Music Educators’ Festival of Performance and Assessment. All of PAUSD’s secondary music ensembles will be performing. A schedule is available online.

Our youngest musicians are performing this week in their very first band concerts. All 5th graders will gather at JLS Middle School to perform for their parents.

Strategic Initiatives and Operations


The Special Education Department and Registration Services met with parents last week in an informal parent forum at Escondido to discuss questions regarding elementary students transition to middle school. Parents were presented with the transition and transfer request process. The floor was open for questions. The Registration Services Supervisor and the Middle School and Elementary Special Education Coordinators were available to answer all questions. Clarity was gained around the District’s transfer and transition process and suggestions were made on how to improve the process. It was a great dialogue! 


Health Connected, in partnership with PAUSD, will be hosting two Family Talk Workshops. Families of all structures – parents, grandparents, co-parenting individuals, and trusted adults – are all welcome to join us for this event designed to promote healthy communication within families about sensitive or difficult topics.

Our first workshop will be Family Talk: Puberty on Wednesday, May 1, at 6:30 p.m. at the District Office. This workshop is recommended for children between 10-12 years old and their families to discuss the physical changes that many youth experience during puberty. To register for the workshop, please visit the Family Talk: Puberty Eventbrite.

Our second workshop will be Family Talk: Adolescence on Wednesday, May 8, at 6:30 p.m. at Greene Middle School. This workshop is recommended for 7th and 8th graders and their families to discuss brain development, strong emotions, values, sexting, sexuality, sexual behavior, and consent. To register for the workshop, please visit the Family Talk: Adolescence Eventbrite.

For questions about these events, please contact PAUSD Health Services.


Gunn High School will be having a celebration of diversity, bridging differences, and building empathy over the course of the week of April 22-April 26. There will be a variety of activities happening at brunch, lunch, and after school, put on by student clubs (Reach Out Care Know [ROCK], Gender and Sexuality Alliance [GSA], Youth Community Services [YCS], Film Club, Bring Change 2 Mind [BC2M], Sources of Strength, etc.), the Wellness Center, the Visual and Performing Arts Department, as well as a guest speaker on LGBTQ+ support. Teachers will also be facilitating classroom lessons based on their individual department themes such as Power and Privilege; Empathy; How the Past Impacts the Future; Ability Status; Acceptance of Self and Others; etc. There are also five overarching themes that two departments will highlight each day listed below:

  • Monday: A Titan is Socially Aware: (Social Studies, Visual and Performing Arts)
  • Tuesday: A Titan is Empathetic: (English, Special Education)
  • Wednesday: A Titan is “Well” Balanced: (PE, Wellness)
  • Thursday: A Titan is Resourceful: (Science/Career Technical Education)
  • Friday: A Titan is Inclusive: (in our school), (World Languages, Math)

We look forward to coming together to highlight the positive aspects of our community and continue to examine and explore how we can be more open, accepting, kind, and compassionate to those different from ourselves. Please come by, join us on this journey, and learn more about what a Titan is and what we at Gunn represent!


Members of the Wellness & Services Team attended a screening of “Resilience: The Biology of Stress & The Science of Hope” and an accompanying training on understanding and helping to address Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). Researchers have found that ACEs can cause toxic stress that can alter brain development, with potential lifelong effects including increased risk of physical or mental illness, substance abuse, and family violence. The movie chronicles the birth of a new movement among pediatricians, therapists, educators, and communities, who are using cutting-edge brain science to help parents and children disrupt the cycle of violence, addiction, and disease. Workshop participants engaged in discussion and planning on how to use the ideas presented in the film to enhance support for children, youth, and families throughout Santa Clara County.

Technology Department


Infinite Campus, Inc. announced this week that the current version of the Campus Portal for students and parents will be removed on June 30, 2019 and replaced with new versions, Campus Student and Campus Parent. Details about the transition plan will be pushed out to students and families within the next few weeks.


It’s the time of year we ask all current families to complete the Annual Data Update process within Infinite Campus. This process validates residency, emergency contacts, and health information for all PAUSD students to ensure continued enrollment and attendance in PAUSD schools under California law. Details about this process and links will be pushed out to families within the next few weeks.


Staff has been engaged in conversations with a few parents in our community regarding concerns about the potential health effects resulting from the use of WiFi in our schools since March 2016. A report was produced and published in fall 2018 with a few recommendations. Staff has completed two of the three recommendations identified by our local expert in the report and is planning ways to test the effects of implementing the final recommendation.