December 4, 2019

Office of the Superintendent


We have an ambitious agenda set for December 10. Some of the high-profile items include:

Title IX Student Presentation: An amazing group of Paly students will share their efforts regarding Title IX education and action. This item will celebrate the power of students taking the lead.

Middle School Math Program: Given a purposefully short time window to develop recommendations for middle school math improvements, the working group has created a plan with bold goals and actionable items. The complete background is contained in a comprehensive agenda item posted for the public. The Educational Services report (found later in this update) details the purpose, pace, and sequence of the plan.

Reorganization of Board of Education: The Board of Education will select members for the offices of President and Vice President. The Board will be reseated accordingly. 

New Course Proposals: In another step in the direction of creating routine cycles, the Educational Services division will present proposed new courses for the 2020-21 school year. Proposed courses are contained in the posted agenda item.

Middle College Expansion: The Board will consider expansion (doubling) of Middle College seats through an agreement with Mountain View-Los Altos (MVLA). The item is the result of a year of negotiations with our partners and is recommended by staff.


At the suggestion of Board members, and in alignment with best practices, PAUSD is sending two teams to Southern California to visit school districts with uncommon results for students. The teams are split between elementary and secondary lines and are charged with identifying replicable practices that may benefit our students. 

Education Services


Every year, PAUSD middle schools and high schools host events to provide information to families of rising 5th and 8th graders. Check the Registration Services website for dates and times of these events, and check school websites for additional events that may be happening throughout 2020. Students will automatically be enrolled in their neighborhood middle and high schools. Contact Registration Services for any questions regarding school enrollment.

2020-21 registration for new students opens on January 8, 2020 for current PAUSD residents. Families are encouraged to complete registrations within the Round 1 enrollment period, which ends on February 12, 2020. Check the Registration Services website for all registration instructions and deadlines for Choice Programapplications.


The Special Education Department received the 2018-19 Disproportionality Corrective Action on December 2. The District must submit the corrections no later than January 30, 2020. The department will be working on assuring a timely submission.

On December 3, we partnered with the Community Advisory Committee (CAC) to conduct a Community Conversation at JLS. We will be providing an overview of special education and pertinent updates.

At the December 10 Regular Board Meeting, the Special Education Department will share its thinking on possible programs to expand the continuum of services currently available to PAUSD students. The report will share information about financial expenditures, reasons for placements outside the District, and options being explored to provide positive learning experiences for students on PAUSD campuses.


Also, on December 10, the Board members will hear a report on the redesign plans for middle grades math. The major goal of the redesign was to ensure students taking longer to grasp math concepts have access to and success in the learning of meaningful mathematics at the highest level consistent with their goals, while simultaneously ensuring students already accelerating in math are appropriately challenged.

What’s changing?

  • Middle school math courses will cover four years of standards in three years
  • Students will be able to skip only one level of math, based on a clear validation process, during middle school
  • The District will transition to using the Mathematics Assessment Resource Service (MARS) Balanced Assessment in Mathematics assessment, in place of Northwest Evaluation Association-Measures of Academic Progress (NWEA-MAP)
  • Required professional development for middle grades math teachers
  • Using a phased implementation, all laning in middle school will be eliminated

What stays the same?

  • Continued adherence to the California Mathematics Placement Act of 2015 (SB359) using a fair, objective, and transparent practice
  • Sixth grade students will continue to be in an unlaned math class
  • Big Ideas will still be the math textbook

What is still being worked out?

  • Bell schedule adjustments to better serve the needs of all students
  • Sixth grade teacher credentialing and teacher assignments
  • The way in which the mathematics courses will report student learning using standard based grading practices

Implementation of these shifts in practice will begin with professional learning for staff during the second semester of this school year. The first class to benefit from the redesign will enter middle school in the 2020-21 school year.


PAUSD staff has been working with MVLA staff to determine how best to increase the number of spots available to students in Middle College. The two districts have arrived at a plan of action. The topic will be discussed at the upcoming Board of Education meeting. Board members will be provided with information about the funds required to expand for the 2020-21 school year.


Each year the secondary schools assess their course offerings and determine if additional courses should be added to their course catalogs. This year, the four new offerings: Advanced Audio & Music Production; Child Development 3; Digital Art Spectrum; and Principles of Business, will be proposed at the December 10 Board of Education meeting.


Join us at the final reception to celebrate the Annual Faculty Art Show – a display of artwork from PAUSD’s K-12 Visual Art teachers. The reception will be held on Wednesday, December 11, from 3:30-4:30 p.m. in the District Office hallway. Light refreshments will be served.


Fletcher Middle School Orchestra welcomed a local composer into their classroom. He talked about composition and where his ideas come from. Students were asked to submit their ideas for a composition through a Skype meeting in early September. This is one student’s reflection:

“Test on Friday is a piece that is being played for the first time by our orchestra! We met with the composer online and discussed what we wanted to be in the piece. We decided that we wanted our song to include interesting techniques, scenes that reflect our life as middle schoolers, different emotions, and viola melodies. When he gave us this piece, we were so excited to start playing! Our overall goal for this music is to tell a story about a middle schooler’s test on Friday and convey the different scenes and emotions.” ~ Anna, 8th grade.

The piece was performed Tuesday night, December 3, with the composer present.

Gunn and Paly Jazz Band and Ensembles performed a joint concert on Thursday, December 5 at Spangenberg auditorium. This yearly guest artist concert included local bassist, Marcus Shelby. Mr. Shelby performed with the groups as a soloist, and led rehearsals and masterclasses with students. The students also performed his composition, Brainstormin’: Black Ball 2019, which features baseball sounds and tells the stories of African American baseball players.

Fifth grade band students performed for parents and peers as they arrived at school this week. Students played their instruments in front of the school, under overhangs, and in front of the office at each of the 12 elementary schools.

Department of Equity and Student Affairs


Families are encouraged to save the date for this year’s Family Leadership Summit on Saturday, January 25, from 8:00 a.m.-2:30 p.m. at Gunn High School. All PAUSD parents are invited to attend to gain tools, skills, and information to support their children’s academic achievement, health, and well-being. Participants will also have opportunities to provide input to PAUSD on how our District and schools can better support families.  

8:30 a.m. – Registration
9:00 a.m. – Welcome and Keynote
10:00 a.m. – Session 1
11:00 a.m. – Session 2
12:15 p.m. Session 3
1:15 p.m. Session 4

The Summit is a parent-centered conference dedicated to empowering and engaging families as we deepen parents’ learning around important topics that affect their child at school and home. The theme of this year's event is Opening Doors to Student Wellbeing and Success, and includes a full day of learning from high-quality presenters who will share powerful practices and strategies that will help parents become leaders and partners in their child's education. PAUSD is excited to announce Keynote Speaker, Jonathan Mooney, who will speak about the potential for all of us who live and learn differently. The sessions will suit a variety of needs and interests. Childcare, translation services, continental breakfast, and lunch will be available at the event. Registration information will follow. 

Many thanks to our partners in hosting PAUSD’s Second Family Leadership Summit: Palo Alto Housing (PAH), Palo Alto Partners in Education (PiE), and Community Advisory Committee (CAC).


PAUSD Wellness & Support Staff attended the District Attorney Attendance Collaborative Meeting hosted by Santa Clara County Office of Education (SCCOE) on December 2. Districts from across Santa Clara County participate in this ongoing network meeting to stay apprised of changes to legislation and practice related to truancy and chronic absenteeism. The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office announced a new Truancy Court in the Family Court Building. This Truancy Court is a part of a new initiative to work with families and students in a more comprehensive way to find supportive solutionsto promote regular attendance for academic and social-emotional development and student success. The court will work in partnership with school districts, community agencies, the district attorney’s office, and families to address truancy.


December is self-care month and the Wellness Team is encouraging students this month to take care of themselves! With finals coming up, encourage your students to practice self-care during the next couple of weeks. Some strategies to consider include: scheduling to ensure you get to sleep, exercise, and focus on limiting extra commitments. Reminders and modeling of stress management skills can also be helpful; including breathing, pausing, and connecting to others for help. The Wellness Teams at both high schools will be hosting various self-care and stress management events during December. 

During Gunn’s Flex time on Tuesday, December 3, students discussed the importance of self-care and ways to engage and practice this. Students separated into two groups to play “Wellness Pictionary.” They drew out various self-care activities they can engage in to reduce stress. This enabled students to thoroughly focus and discuss the many benefits of self-care.  

The Paly Wellness Team organized a Cocoa with Counselors event on Tuesday, December 3, to kick off this month’s self-care events. During tutorial, students enjoyed hot cocoa and donuts with counselors who hosted various activities and rotated discussion tables around highlighting self-care. Topics included: Balance in Life, Positive Coping Skills, Friends and Family, Coloring, Self-Care, and making DIY Stress Balls. Over 120 students participated in the event to relax, connect with therapists, the Wellness staff, school counselors, and psychologists. 


PAUSD is continuing to conduct its biennial administration of the California School Climate, Health, and Learning Surveys (CalSCHLS). The CalSCHLS is comprised of the CHKS, the California School Staff Survey (CSSS) and the California School Parent Survey (CSPS). The student portion of CHKS was conducted in grades 5, 7, 9 and 11 as well as with site staff members across the District. 

The survey window for parents opened this week and will run through December 18. Each family with enrolled PAUSD students will receive an email with the survey information. Each family can complete one survey per school regardless of the number of children enrolled in that school. 

In an effort to increase accessibility and continue providing opportunities to engage and connect with parents, the District will host multiple family outreach events to encourage participation in the survey. All events will have computers loaded with the survey. Paper copies, as well as Mandarin and Spanish versions of the survey, are also available at the school sites and at the in-person events that the District is hosting.

  • Greene Middle School – December 9 & 17, 7:00-8:00 p.m. 
  • Barron Park Elementary – December 10 & 19, 7:00-8:00 p.m. 
  • East Palo Alto (Location TBD) – December 18, 7:00-8:00 p.m.

PAUSD has administered the CalSCHLS since 2003 as a crucial method to gather important data on student safety, engagement, and connection in their school community and students’ physical and psychological well-being. Parents are encouraged to participate and review the survey questions on the CHKS PAUSD Website. The survey administration is supported by the Department of Research, Evaluation, and Assessment (REA); use of the data by school leaders, staff, and District committees typically begins in the late spring when results are delivered by the state.

Business Services


The First Interim Financial Report will be presented at the December 10, Regular Board Meeting. The report covers the actual revenues and expenditures through October 31 and estimates through June 30, 2020. Highlights of the budget at first interim include updated property tax revenue estimates reflecting the increases to assessed property valuations since the budget was adopted in June 2019. Updates on the expenditure side of the budget include staffing adjustments related to aligning actual staffing costs to budgeted staffing costs, including the costs associated with implementing the PAUSD Promise for 2019-20, and incorporating recent negotiated salary and benefit increases into the budget. The net effect of the revenue and expenditure changes at first interim result in a decrease to the ending fund balance of $2,588,000. 

The District will be submitting the First Interim Financial Report with a positive certification meaning that it can meet the current year financial commitments as well as the expenditures in the two out years. Following Board approval, the First Interim Financial Report will be submitted to the SCCOE for audit and final submission will be to the State.