April 26, 2019

Superintendent’s Office


The next Board agenda is open to revisions, additions, and removal of items. At this time, we have the following items under consideration for the May agenda:

  • Finalize agreements with the Palo Alto Educators Association (PAEA) and the Palo Alto Management Association (PAMA)
  • Review History / Social Studies textbooks for high schools
  • Discuss the PAUSD Promise – Health and Safety
  • Progress update regarding homework at the middle and high school levels
  • Stanford Mitigation Agreement


The VTP program has been reviewed and revised slightly to improve the experience for students. As of yesterday, roughly 50 families were notified that we are phasing out bussing for a few sites. Nearly half of the families have elected to voluntarily transfer their children to sites closer to their homes. In some cases, our change in placement will now provide an opportunity to walk or bike to school. We view this revision as a positive and have created a webpage to answer the common question. The content of the webpage is pasted below:

A few changes have been made related to school placement procedures for students enrolled in PAUSD schools via the Voluntary Transfer Program (VTP) for the 19-20 school year. The goal of these changes is to positively impact student experiences.


  1. Reduce length of the bus ride for students
  2. Reduce the isolation of VTP students at a school site when VTP enrollment numbers are small

Background Information:

  • PAUSD receives 60 students in grades K-2 yearly. The number may rise slightly by the following circumstance; first year of enrollment in PAUSD student drops.  That drop is added to 60 (example; 5 kinders drop in 2017-18, so for 2018-19 PAUSD must take 65 students).
  • In 2014 PAUSD staff reviewed VTP community meeting minutes, focus groups, and student interviews. 
  • Racial isolation and busing arose as two factors that affect the VTP student experience.  The superintendent at that time requested to receive up to 100 VTP students yearly.  Due to the Tinsley program being court ordered this was not possible.  A bus was purchased for Palo Alto and Gunn High School students were allowed on the Fletcher route.
  • Each year a high number of transfers requesting to move from Fletcher or Gunn high school citing transportation and distance are processed.

2019-20 Plan and Actions Taken:

  • Leadership discussed how to address the VTP family concerns.
  • The number of students in PAUSD south/west cluster, which includes Fletcher middle school has the longest bus route and is furthest from East Palo Alto.
  • It was decided to gradually phase out enrollment of students from elementary schools that feed to Fletcher; Nixon, Barron Park, Juana Briones. 
  • Current 5th grade families at these sites were asked if they wanted to transfer to Greene or JLS.  10 out of 12 families chose to transfer.  The families who decided to stay had siblings at Fletcher.
  • Busing would continue to allow for 3rd graders to finish their stay at their current elementary sites.
  • All K-5 families were asked if they wanted to voluntarily move to the following sites: Duveneck, Addison, Hayes, El Carmelo, Fairmeadow or Escondido
  • Families may choose to stay at current sites.
  • Busing will continue for 2019-20 and 2020-21.
  • In 2021-22 families can choose to stay or transfer to a site that has busing.

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • Will students continue to attend Gunn High School?
    • Yes, El Carmelo, Fairmeadow, Hoover and Ohlone will go to JLS Middle School and then move on to Gunn High School.  Duveneck, Addison, Escondido and Walter Hayes will go to Greene Middle School and then move on to Palo Alto High School.
  • My family decided to stay at Juana Briones and provide our own transportation. Can my family continue on to Fletcher Middle School?
    • Yes, the student will be able to attend Fletcher, since you are providing transportation
  • Will I be forced to move sites?
    • No, all moves are voluntary
  • Was this decision based on reducing costs?
    • No, the bus routes will be reorganized to go to fewer sites and reduce the bus ride. Instead of VTP buses going to 18 sites they will go to 13 sites.
  • How does this address racial isolation?
    • When placing students at all 12 elementary sites, plus Greendell, there are only 3-4 students placed in kindergarten per site. As VTP students disenroll (for a variety of reasons) there is sometimes only one VTP student remaining at a grade level. By placing larger groups of students at fewer elementary sites, the feelings of being the ‘only VTP student’ will be addressed.
  • Can the decision to eliminate busing to the West cluster starting in 2021-22 be revisited at the end of 2020-21?
    • Yes, leadership will review the data and gather feedback from impacted families.

Education Services


Middle school history/social science teachers continued work on the implementation of the new Teachers’ Curriculum Institute (TCI) History Alive! California Series program that the District adopted last May. One of TCI’s Customer Success Representatives was on hand to give teachers a preview of the changes that TCI will be making to its electronic platform next school year. Following the presentation, teachers discussed TCI best practices and shared input on questions raised. They concluded the meeting by adding electronic copies of lesson plans, slideshows, and supplemental materials to their cross-site grade-level unit folders – part of an ongoing initiative to create greater consistency and coherence across middle school social studies departments.


Middle school science teachers met on April 24 to reflect on data from the McGraw Hill and TCI textbook pilots. Each piloting teacher shared positive and negative impressions from round one and two. This feedback will provide important context for the Middle School Science Textbook Advisory Committee, whose members will determine additional pilots for the fall. The committee appreciates each piloting teacher for the extra effort required to learn and pilot a new curriculum unit.  


Middle school math teachers are creating data-based CS units for all levels of middle school math courses. The three- to four-day units will utilize Google sheets and meet the mathematics standards for Statistics at each appropriate grade level. A common teacher training for the units’ implementation is being developed, and should be available to all teachers in summer 2019.


Sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade teachers from Fletcher, Greene, and JLS middle schools hold three joint meetings each school year. Below are the agenda highlights from this year’s third JMS meetings:

  • DreamBox Pilot Intervention Math Program
    • Math teachers reflected on student progress and reviewed students’ use of the pilot intervention program,DreamBox. Staff brainstormed on how to find time for students to work on the program during math classes. Although minor challenges with computer availability were noted, positive student progress stories were shared, and staff left with plans to improve implementation in the fall.
  • English
    • Middle school English teachers gathered to learn more about the English Literature Selection Advisory Committee, which will convene in the fall. Staff shared the characteristics they are looking for in new core literature, and helped develop the guiding questions that will direct the Committee’s work in the coming school year.  Applications will be available in August for parents and students potentially interested in serving on the Committee.


The Curriculum and Career Education (CCE) office, under the Innovation and Agility Department, has been working to support dual enrollment articulation with Foothill College and De Anza College. We are excited to report that our Human Anatomy and Physiology course has been approved for dual enrollment. Students in the Human Anatomy and Physiology course will receive college credits, upon parent consent, for Foothill's BIOL40A and BIOL40B, in addition to the high school credit. CCE started working with Foothill on the articulation process last spring, and it is exciting to offer an ever-increasing number of dual enrollment options for our students.

The CCE office is celebrating another successful school year with its Creativity Cart initiative. Students in Young Fives, Early Childhood Development, and elementary grades created wonderful projects using recycled materials. 

Of special note, secondary level student work will be highlighted at the upcoming Celebratory Showcase on May 17, 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m., in the Palo Alto High School Library.

Strategic Initiatives and Operations


On April 24, our FUTURES team came together to offer an informational night for parents transitioning from 5th to 6th grade, 8th to 9th grade, and 12th grade to Adult Transition. The night was designed to provide support for our students and their families. This event was a celebration of our FUTURES programs and provides insight into the program design, structure, and supports. Our students attended to serve coffee and delicious treats from their businesses at their school sites.   


On April 26, over 150 students from 12 different schools took part in the Special Olympics Schools Track and Field Meet at Gunn High School. PAUSD and Special Olympics Northern California have joined together in aSpecial Olympics Schools Partnership program. Through sports, the program aims to provide opportunities for special education students and their peers to work together as teammates and to create inclusive opportunities in the school community. This event was a full community effort with support from the Gunn High School community, the Physical Education Department, the Community Advisory Committee for Special Education, the Palo Alto Lions Club, and local Palo Alto Law Enforcement. Students had a great time showing off their running, throwing, and jumping skills with lots of fans to cheer them on. 


Under the supervision of the Lead District Nurse, nursing students from San Francisco State University prepared and delivered handwashing lessons for eight PAUSD elementary classrooms on April 23. Transitional Kindergarten (TK), Kindergarten, and 1st Grade Classrooms learned the importance of washing their hands as a way to prevent the spread of disease. The students practiced their skills using a germ-simulating gel and a black light to reveal germs. After washing their hands, they returned to the black light to see if all the “germs” had been washed away. A special thank you to Greendell, Nixon, and Palo Verde for welcoming the nursing students into your classrooms.


Gunn High School’s celebration of diversity, bridging differences, and building empathy through “A Titan Is… Week” is going strong with students and staff coming out to participate and perform.  

As a part of the various brunch, lunch, and after school events, the Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) hosted unicorn cookie decorating as a part of an event to encourage conversation and understanding of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer+ (LGBTQ+) experiences. Gunn’s Wellness Center partnered with student club, Bring Change 2 Mind (BC2M) to deliver a beautiful assortment of flowers and clay pots to the Gunn campus at lunch. Each student had the opportunity to decorate their own clay pot, select a flower of their choice, and find inspiration in the fact that we can grow and cultivate hope in ourselves just as we do with our garden.  

Still to come is the Gunndance Film Festival, which will feature student short films on their experiences navigating difficulty and developing resilience and hope. Students and staff are also looking forward to the Prejudice Prints Gallery Walk, put on by the Visual and Performing Arts Department. On display will be student artwork portraying their stories, experiences, and triumphs around managing/battling prejudice and discrimination.  Please come by to learn more about what a Titan is and what the Gunn community represents.

Many thanks to the student clubs: Reach Out Care Know (ROCK), GSA, Youth Community Services (YCS), Film Club, BC2M, Sources of Strength, etc. Also, many thanks to the Wellness Center, and all the teachers who facilitated 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.

Technology Department


PAUSD would like to thank Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney (DA) Angela Alvarado for speaking to parents and guardians on April 17 in the Paly Performing Arts Center (PAC). DA Alvarado’s presentation, “Digital Safety and Media Safe Kids,” was both interesting and informative, and discussed many topics such as: what kids do on the internet, digital reputations, online bullying, sexting, and criminal behavior. Below is a list of some important ideas presented by DA Alvarado.

  • “We can’t just give them (kids) a phone. We need to give them the critical thinking skills to use it.”
  • “66% of teens report having witnessed cruel behavior online and not reported it to anyone.” Discuss cyberbullying with your child.
  • Teaching our children about privacy settings, how to leave group chats, and how to block unwanted friends or followers are essential skills.
  • Discuss accountability and encourage balance with children regarding tech use.

For more resources, please contact Emily Garrison or visit:


Thanks to the Palo Alto Library and PAUSD teacher librarians and staff, the "Student Asset Card," a joint library card for both school and public library use, continues to be a success! As of April 2019, over 2,300 of these cards have been activated for use in our Palo Alto City Libraries and about 13,000 items have been checked out! All students can simply use their student ID cards as city library cards once parents/guardians have given approval for participation in this program through the Infinite Campus ADU process. Please contact your school librarian or Emily Garrison, PAUSD Coordinator of Educational Technology and Libraries, if you have any questions.

Business Services


School sites all around town have been celebrating Earth Month in lots of fun and creative ways. A few of the highlights include: Escondido students put on their first recycled fashion show; JLS students participated in their annual sorting relay race, Ohlone students provided a waste sorting tutorial to District staff, Fairmeadow students performed a waste audit; and Duveneck students enjoyed their annual zero waste picnic. PAUSD aims to make Earth Day every day!