August 17, 2018

SUPERINTENDENT’S OFFICE

STANFORD UNIVERSITY
I had the honor of meeting with Stanford University President, Marc Tessier-Lavigne, and Associate Vice President, Jean McCown earlier this week.  We discussed natural partnership opportunities and the Stanford General Use Permit.  The University is expanding outreach efforts in the near future and we believe there is an opportunity to formalize plans to partner in the areas of access and equity, student well-being, and innovative programs.  We also shared a desire to identify a process for discussing the General Use Permit impact and potential opportunities to address the issue creatively.  I shared our desire to preserve neighborhood schools as one priority.  Everyone agreed that we need a space to hear from each other to build an understanding of perspectives and goals. 

CONSORTIUM 2031
I had my first online meeting with the superintendent members of Consortium 2031 in preparation for our upcoming work together.  The group is comprised of seven high-performing school districts from across the country.  I can already see that this is a valuable partnership for PAUSD.  The participating school districts are Eanes Westlake Innovative School District, Manhattan Beach Unified School District, Edina Public Schools, New Trier Township High School District 203, Westside Community Schools and Highland Park Independent School District. 

AGENDA REVIEW PROCESS
Our new agenda review process began this week with the entire Executive Cabinet team and their assistants.  We met for roughly two hours to go through each page of the agenda together.  This process will build a broader understanding of the District and provide an opportunity to ask critical questions before items are posted.  The packet went to print this morning, already demonstrating a more efficient and streamlined process. 

BOARD STUDY SESSION
I am looking forward to the Board Study Session on August 22nd.  We are using an agenda format that allows for flexibility and open communication.  Bullet points on the agenda will serve as a guide for discussion topics. 

AUTHENTIC FEEDBACK
After meeting with some students, I am exploring new ways of reaching out for their feedback on key issues.  I do not believe that simply sending surveys is sufficient to gain context and insight.  Several students have asked what I think is important from my role as their superintendent.  I always lead with their well-being.  Their faces tell me things that a survey will never capture.  I will provide updates as this work progresses.

SOLAR AGENDA ITEM
We have prepared an agenda item to update the Board regarding the solar projects.  We met with parties expressing concerns about the placement of solar arrays.  A letter sent to the Board of Education from neighbors of Nixon Elementary School is attached to the agenda item. 

BUSINESS SERVICES

CITY SCHOOL LIAISON COMMITTEE MEETING
The City School Liaison Committee met Thursday, August 16, at City Hall. The topics on the agenda were the Cubberley Master Plan and the Stanford General Use Permit. The agenda is attached along with the minutes for the June 21, 2018, meeting. The next meeting is scheduled for September 20, 2018; tentative agenda topics include the District Solar Project and the Stanford General Use Permit.

GREENE MIDDLE SCHOOL GYM FLOOR
The Green Middle School gym flooring replacement will be going to the August 21, 2018, Board meeting due to irreparable damage. This occurred during an undiscovered water leak in the hot water pipes, which traveled from the boiler to the gym showers. Staff is requesting the Board waive the two-meeting rule due to the urgency of the project. Staff will walk-in the bid results and recommendation at the Board meeting.

UPDATE ON LEAD WATER TESTING
Earlier this week, staff received an inquiry from the San Francisco Chronicle regarding the District’s current compliance with the new legislation passed by the Governor last October which requires local water utilities to sample taps for lead for all local public schools by July 2019. The City of Palo Alto’s timeline is set for early September to start testing the water at all school sites. In the past few months, the District’s Maintenance Department has been replacing drinking fountain parts with lead-free water valves at all school sites to ensure clean and safe drinking water.

MEASURE Z
The PAUSD School Bond will be Measure Z on the November ballot. There are a lot of measures on this Santa Clara County ballot. As far as order is concerned, the County comes first, next city measures, next community college measures, and last is K-12 school districts. As information, the last measure is Measure LL. The "Argument For" was filed by the August 15 deadline. It was signed by Joe Simitian, Judy Kleinberg, Sid Espinosa, Enoch Choi, and Esther Wojcicki. An "Argument Against" was filed by the Silicon Valley Taxpayers Association and the Santa Clara County Libertarian Party. They submitted nearly the same argument against every bond and tax on the ballot. The rebuttals are due on August 21 and of course, a rebuttal will be submitted.

HUMAN RESOURCES

RECRUITING AND HIRING
During the course of the summer and with current hiring, the Human Resources Office has brought in the following number of new staff members: 65 teachers, 5 counselors, 8 certificated administrators, 37 classified employees, and 2 supervisory/confidential staff.

ASSIGNMENT NOTIFICATIONS (ANs)
On Friday, August 17, Human Resources will send assignment notifications to all employees. These ANs include assignment, site, salary step and column placement, base salary amount, degree stipend amounts, FTE, contract status, and home address.  Our Data Specialist has been updating contracted employee assignment changes for 2018-19 since last spring in order to make the ANs as accurate as possible. Employees who see any discrepancies in their information are advised to contact Human Resources. Further changes will then be confirmed with site administrators.

PAYROLL
The payroll team continues to improve processes Districtwide, increasing cost effectivity and time efficiency. The online labor voucher system, which successfully eliminated the processing of hundreds of handwritten and printed vouchers each month, has been updated further to accept the uploading of timecards and other backup documentation.  Because of the payroll team’s ongoing work, 2,643 active employees are ready to be paid in August.

JOINT BENEFITS COMMITTEE (JBC)
Our Joint Benefits Committee held its first meeting of the year on Thursday, August 9.  This committee is comprised of appointees from Palo Alto Educators Association (PAEA), California School Employees Association (CSEA), the District, and Palo
Alto Management Association (PAMA). The purpose of the Committee is to consider and make recommendations to the negotiating teams regarding matters related to medical, dental, and vision benefits. The JBC reviewed information provided by Keenan and Associates showing a 7.25% renewal increase for Sutter Health Plus Medical benefits and a 10.9% renewal increase for Kaiser Permanente for 2019.  Our next meeting is scheduled for August 28, 2018.

TITLE IX OFFICE
Our Title IX Trainings for the 2018-2019 school year are scheduled and taking place. Pursuant to our Resolution Agreement, the Title IX Office is providing this summary of the Uniform Complaint Process (UCP) files for the 2017-18 school year. All of the data regarding reports of matters at all school campus, the use of the UCP, and resolution of the UCPs.

From August of 2017 through July of 2018, PAUSD received 210 reports of matters, which appeared on our public claim log. Of the 210, 61 resulted in UCP being filed. The Title IX Office conducted 60 formal investigations and one matter settled informally. The UCPs were investigated either at the school site, through the Title IX Office, or through the use of external investigators. Additional information can be found in the attachment.

Patterns that emerged over the course of the year noted that the UCP process was used with increased frequency when compared to prior years, following the intense education and training process for all staff during 2017-18. Some issues noted through this year included the tension that exists between transparency and protecting the privacy rights of students. 

Based upon this analysis, the recommendations for the Title IX Office for the coming year are to continue building relationships with on-site administrators, including regular meetings with a designated point person for Title IX from each school; adopt uniform descriptions of incidents for the public log to simplify data collection and better protect the privacy of parties; develop tools to assist in investigations and documentation at school sites; deliver training to sites on Title IX and other relevant topics, like bias; and identify opportunities to utilize informal resolution methods when parties agree to this approach.

TECHNOLOGY DEPARTMENT

OVER 80 TEACHERS ATTEND PowerUp! TRAININGS
Our annual, end-of-summer EdTech conference almost doubled attendance this year, with how-to sessions for teachers, led by teachers. Sessions included refreshers on District sponsored EdTech tools such as Schoology and G Suite, as well as 1:1 support for staff members that wanted a second set eyes on a problem in preparation for the start of a new school year. A big thanks to Emily Garrison for coordinating the event, as well as all of our teacher presenters for spending time sharing EdTech knowledge with colleagues.

MIDDLE SCHOOL DIGITAL DRIVER’S LICENSE
Tech Lead teachers and Librarians at our three middle schools collaborated last spring and put together a common set of lessons around digital citizenship for implementation this year. Our efforts will continue this year around creating positive and healthy online learning environments. Also, expanding across all three middle schools this year, is the Schoology assessment known as our “Digital Driver’s License” that allows our middle school students to demonstrate their basic understanding of digital citizenship. This is largely thanks to the efforts of Karin Forssell, Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA) for Technology at JLS, who developed this idea that has now spread across all three middle schools.

CITY-SCHOOL LIBRARY CARD PROJECT
We are currently working through the logistical kinks in our first year of Districtwide implementation of the Student Asset Card project. The intent behind the Student Asset Card is for our students to be able to use their school-issued identification card to access both digital and physical resources available from the Palo Alto City Libraries. The Palo Alto City Libraries have a tremendous amount of resources available, hopefully this will make it easier for all students to access.

NEW FIREWALL UP AND RUNNING

In addition to welcoming 12,500 students back to our campuses, we also welcomed over 11,000 devices back to our network. Internet access is now being filtered and protected by the new firewall, increasing security and ensuring compliance with the Children’s Internet Protection Act. Many thanks to our Board for a quick mid-July approval to refresh the district’s firewall, allowing us to open school with the new firewall installed and configured with minimal disruptions to instructional time.

STRATEGIC INITIATIVES AND OPERATIONS

The Office of Strategic Initiatives and Operations consists of the following Departments/Areas: Special Education, Equity, Family Engagement, LCAP, Student Wellness (i.e. Health Services, Mental Health Services, Homeless Services, Foster Youth Support), Truancy, and Bullying Prevention. The Assistant Superintendent of Strategic Initiatives will work with the Equity Coordinator and the Family Engagement Specialists to develop a clearly defined and shared definition of equity and the core values that will guide the work. This year, the family engagement work will focus on identifying and implementing strategies to increase the engagement of our historically underrepresented families, supporting teachers and administrators in working with families in a culturally responsive manner, monitoring and measuring the impact of family engagement specialists, addressing issues of climate and outcomes that flow along the lines of race/ethnicity and socio-economic status. Grouping Special Education, Student Wellness, 504, Truancy, Equity, Family Engagement, and LCAP under one umbrella will increase collaboration among departments and ensure that the goal of continuous improvement is viewed through an equity lens.

SPECIAL EDUCATION LEADERSHIP STRUCTURE
The Special Education leadership model has changed for the better! Alma Ellis will serve as the PK-12 Special Education Director. A new position, Director of Informal Dispute Resolution, was created to better support schools and families in resolving concerns related to eligibility, identification, and special education programs/services. The Director of Informal Dispute Resolution, monitors compliance with State and Federal laws and internal procedures and provides staff development in compliance-related matters. In addition, two new program specialists were added to serve as a resource to general education and special education teachers. These three new additions round out a dynamic team. Two leadership positions, Director and Elementary Coordinator, have not been filled. Our goal this year is to serve our families better.

PARENT SPECIAL EDUCATION SUMMIT AND EDUCATION SERIES
As part of our effort to ensure that parents of students with disabilities are well-informed and fully engaged in their child’s education, we will be offering parent education workshops throughout the year. These workshops will include such topics as Understanding your child’s Individualized Educational Program (IEP)/Disability; Special Education and the Law; Strategies for working through disagreements with the IEP Team; and more. A Fall and Spring Special Education Summit will be held with multiple sessions on special education and equity-related matters with one venue hosted at an East Palo Alto location.

PARENT HANDBOOK
Parents have told us that they need a clear, concise guide to the programs and services available in our District for students with disabilities, as well as more help navigating the special education process and its numerous components and procedural safeguards. At the First Parent Special Education Summit Fall of 2018, we will be unveiling a new parent handbook that outlines the District’s programs and offerings. This handbook is designed to answer many of the questions parents frequently ask about special education.

SPECIAL EDUCATION ACADEMY
We are investing in our general education and special education teachers on effective inclusive practices co-teaching and collaboration. The Special Education Council has outlined a plan to provide more support to our teachers in serving students with disabilities. Some topics covered in the academy are compliance, Universal Design for Learning (UDL), Dyslexia, facilitated IEP’s, Standards-Based IEP’s and more!

SECONDARY EDUCATION

HEALTH CONNECTED OPT OUT RATES, SPRING 2018
Last year was the second year of the Health Connected curriculum implementation.  The opt out rates for students were relatively high compared to pre-AB329 sexual health instruction. While historically the opt out rates ranged (anecdotally) from zero to three students per teacher, the rates at the middle schools were as follows:

 

 

Full Opt Out

Partial Opt Out

Total Students

JLS

34

8

399

Jordan

21

3

401

Terman

25

1

225

PATHWAYS REIMAGINED
Jeong Choe, Dave Hoshiwara, and Sharon Ofek are in the process of auditing all of the offerings to determine strengths and gaps in PAUSD’s current programs.  Our work will result in maximizing programs we currently have, filling identified gaps, and bolstering PAUSDs Career and Technical Education (CTE) offerings. Clarity around our vision for students will result in a redesign of responsibilities and positions.

PARTNERSHIP WITH FOOTHILL COMMUNITY COLLEGE
PAUSD is working collaboratively with Foothill Community College to provide Dual Enrollment and Early College Promise opportunities to PAUSD High School students.  PAUSD and Foothill teams will be convening to map out a plan for implementation. In the meantime, we are in the process of getting Early Childhood Development 1, taught by Hillary McDaniel, approved as a qualifying course for dual credit this school year.

OPENING OF SCHOOL – “I” IS ILLNESS AND “WE” IS WELLNESS
This school year began with powerful professional learning opportunities for all staff.  Teachers new to the district participated in a blended workshop. Emily Garrison, Ann Lorey, and Sharon Ofek presented the expectations with regard to the alignment goal and how the District’s learning management system supports those expectations. The sites hosted workshops customized to their specific needs and initiatives. Topics spanned a wide range of foci: finding your ‘why’; interrogating the past to inform the future; building a thriving work force through collaboration; and connectivity.

TARGETED SCIENCE PROFESSIONAL LEARNING: WAVES – DIGITAL/ANALOG
TOSAs Tammy Juarez and Ann Lorey hosted an inquiry-based workshop for Physical Science Teachers on August 3. Middle and high school teachers came together to unpack Next Generation Science Standards using WestEd’s Making Sense of Science program. Through engaging visualizations, hands-on stations, and discussions, teachers explored key features of waves, student misconceptions, how waves are used to transfer energy, and how waves send/store information.

STANFORD’S LEARNING, DESIGN & TECHNOLOGY (LDT) EXPO ‘18
Karen Logue and Suz Antink, PAUSD ELA/HSS and Math/CS Secondary TOSAs, respectively, attended the Expo and reviewed the LDT master’s projects. Among the technological projects of note were Paperhat, for job-life experimenting; PeopleMap, for identifying competencies that may be overlooked; Foo, for using puzzles to illuminate programming; Fay, to bring new insights into art appreciation; Carlo, for helping students use their teacher’s feedback to measure their personal writing growth; and Domino, for using phones to program and create new apps. The last would put computer science and programming into every student’s hands.

COMPUTER HISTORY MUSEUM: DESIGN_CODE_BUILD
Sharon Ofek, CAO Secondary, and Suz Antink, Math/CS TOSA, attended the Design_Code_Build workshop on Saturday, August 10th. The workshop brings together educators throughout the Bay Area in order to learn some rudimentary coding with Raspberry Pi, trade current best practices in CS, and learn how to utilize the Computer History Museum to augment CS Education from grades 6 through 12. David Cole from NexMap was the ‘Rock Star’ speaker. He shared his efforts around utilizing paper circuits with literature, maps, and art.

SECONDARY MATH PLACEMENT
In compliance with California Senate Bill 359, the PAUSD mathematics placement process was revised to reflect recent changes in practice.  It was uploaded in early August and can be found on our webpage. Translations in Mandarin and Spanish will be posted on the website once completed.

ELEMENTARY EDUCATION

PK AND ELEMENTARY WELCOME 4,941 STUDENTS BACK TO SCHOOL
This last Tuesday, we welcomed our elementary and PK students to the 2018-19 school year at our 13 sites. This week students and teachers have been engaged in activities that help build caring communities in their classrooms, and setting norms for how they will work together to have a successful year. This year our K-5 students will be engaged in year two of our math curriculum with Bridges, continue the excellent work in the units of study from the Reading and Writing Project, and transition to History Alive for their social science curriculum. All reading specialists will be trained in the new Phonics unit of study developed by the Reading and Writing Project. More information on History Alive and the Phonics Unit of Study will be shared in a later Board update. 

FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL SUPPORT
The Elementary TOSAs supported the new principals at Escondido, Fairmeadow, and Hoover on the first day of school. They greeted students and parents, helped guide traffic, and supported Kindergartners to find their classroom.

TEACHERS COLLEGE HOMEGROWN ADVANCED READING INSTITUTE
In July, 50 K-5 teachers participated in the Teachers College Homegrown Advanced Reading Institute. This week-long workshop focused on expanding workshop strategies and implementation of the units of study in reading.

NEW HIRE ORIENTATION
The Elementary TOSAs Laura Hull, Leslie Faust, and Nikole Manou, lead two orientations for 16 new teachers and specialists focusing on literacy and math in PAUSD. Teachers and specialists developed an understanding of PAUSD’s balanced literacy approach, the Benchmark Assessment System reading assessment, the Bridges in Mathematics math curriculum, Number Talks, and assessments.

INQUIRY, HISTORICAL THINKING AND ACTION CIVICS - A HISTORY/SOCIAL SCIENCE INSTITUTE
Elementary TOSAs Leslie Faust, Laura Hull, and Nikole Manou joined Secondary History/Social Science TOSA Karen Logue at the San Mateo County Office of Education’s two-day HSS Institute. Sponsored by SMCOE in partnership with UC Berkeley’s History-Social Science Project, the first day of the Institute guided participants through an exploration of the inquiry process as well as the themes offered by the Framework (among others: “Haves & Have-Nots,” “Uses and Abuses of Power”). The second day of the Institute provided participants with a model for unit and lesson planning that emphasized the intersections of historical thinking, inquiry, and social justice.

ELEMENTARY ART
Spectra Elementary Art Teachers are gearing up for the start of the school year. Spectra teachers give students and classroom teachers time to settle in to the new year before they start their lessons in September. Art Education is making a Spectra team drive in Google Drive where useful resources (lesson plans, schedules, and material orders) can be housed. The Art and Music departments are working together to update the Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) webpage on the PAUSD website. Spectra teachers had their first meeting this week, where the focus was on sharing ideas for activities for the first day of instruction with students, projects with which to start the school year, and ways to communicate effectively with classroom teachers. The Art Department looks forward to showcasing new sets of artwork from our students in the District Office hall.

SCIENCE RESOURCE CENTER

Science Resource Center (SRC) has been working all summer to prepare science kits for the classroom. There is always something to do at the SRC! Districtwide, there are over 700 science kits that need support over each year. Most science kits stay at the school sites and are sent to the SRC for refurbishment after they have been used. When a kit is refurbished it is cleaned, restocked and made ready and complete like new. Then the kit is sent back to the site for the next time it is opened by the classroom teacher. In addition, there are a limited number of kits that can be checked out from the SRC. The goal of the SRC is to make the teaching of elementary science an easy process for the teacher.

MUSIC DEPARTMENT NEWS
The school year was off to a great start with band camp, choir camp, and 960 5th graders playing their very first instrument! The District employs 28 music teachers. The department welcomed four new music teachers to PAUSD. During the summer, music teachers participated in workshops, conferences, and trainings all over the country to learn about software, curriculum, development of learning targets, and integrating music with social studies. Needless to say, our teachers are excited to be back in the classroom, sharing their passion for music with our students.