June 7, 2019

Superintendent’s Office


The agenda for June 11 will include the following:

Closed Session will begin at 5:45 p.m. (not the regular 5:00 p.m.).

  • Reports
    • Brief update on Stanford GUP process
    • Dyslexia update to be largely presented by teachers
  • Action Items
    • Several items regarding construction projects and architects
    • Issuance of 2019-20 Tax and Revenue Anticipation Notes
    • Senior management contracts (Deputy, Assistant Superintendents, Chief Business Officer)
  • Discussion Items
    • Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP)
    • PAUSD budget, including projections
    • School Plan for Student Achievement
    • Cell Tower Resolution regarding placement
    • Superintendent’s contract
    • Evaluation of external law firms
    • External law firm contracts
  • Information items
    • Middle College
    • Adult Education compensation


Many of us watched our City Council’s recent meeting regarding Cubberley. Since our Board of Education has no official position on Cubberley or housing plans, it would have been inappropriate for any member to speak on behalf of the Board. We believed the same was true of our senior staff. Sequencing of discussions is as important as the content. Through our City/School Liaison Committee meetings, we had already decided to hold a joint session in August or September. A well-structured joint session will provide the right space for a meaningful discussion about a topic with shared interests.

City Council’s comments exposed many questions that we can address through a joint meeting. Our next City/School Liaison Committee meeting is scheduled for next Wednesday, June 12. The meeting is dedicated to framing a joint session that will produce clear outcomes. With vacations, dark periods through July, and the start of school, it is likely that the joint session will land at some point in September.  

Education Services


As students headed off for summer break, approximately 115 teachers attended the PA-YOU!-SD Assessment Institute June 4-6. The three-day workshop focused on building a shared understanding of assessment, instruction, and grading practices that support student learning. 

Lead by experts in the field, Tom Schimmer, Cassandra Erkens, Nicole Vagle, and Myron Dueck, each day included a keynote session and breakout sessions. On June 4, a panel of PAUSD teachers joined Schimmer and Erkens in speaking about their efforts in updating assessment and grading practices.

Preliminary data from the feedback and evaluation survey shows that attendees found the sessions invaluable in considering changes to their practices. Survey results indicated that 95% agreed or strongly agreed that the day was a successful learning experience; 96% agreed they received useful ideas for changing their practice; and 96% agreed the facilitators exhibited qualities essential to the outcomes of the workshop, including specialized knowledge and strong facilitation skills. Teachers also provided written feedback:

“I have to say that today has been the most applicable and enjoyable PD that I have ever taken. Tom was not only knowledgeable, but witty, humble, and so easy to learn from. His passion was palpable and made me want to be a better teacher!”

“I am currently in a HS department that is using Standards Based Grading, so because I was aware of the concepts, I felt I was benefitting immensely from each and every break out session. It was extremely validating to hear his [Tom’s] message and made me so proud of the work my department is undertaking. Looking forward to two more information packed days!”

“The presenter [Myron Dueck] was a gem to have. The topics and strategies presented and discussed were incredibly thought-provoking and I feel energized. One in a million.”

“I strongly appreciated the opportunity to hear about classroom strategies that can be used in my classroom. I enjoyed the opportunity to talk to colleagues to hear different perspectives and brainstorm various strategies to design rich learning experiences for students.”

Additionally, teachers shared their next steps for implementing what they learned. Themes included a focus on moving away from zeros and penalties for late work; developing common formative assessments; rethinking the purpose and structure of homework; and giving students more purposeful, thoughtful feedback connected to the learning process and self-regulation. 

This week’s workshop series ties directly to the High Quality Teaching and Learning goals of the PAUSD Promise. In the coming school year, secondary teachers will continue to build common language and understanding, and support implementation in alignment with identified key strategies:

  • Ensure course-alike teams of teachers have common Learning Targets; common formative and summative assessments; and that teachers communicate Learning Targets to students, both orally and in writing.
  • Ensure course-alike teams of teachers have common grading practices, with increased use of evidence-based grading; revision/retake opportunities; and scaled rubrics based on learning targets, homework load awareness, etc.
  • Pilot alternative homework strategies that result in reduced homework load for students.
  • Teach students to self-assess progress and set goals for next steps.

In the 2019-20 school year, this work will be the focus of the October Professional Learning Day, of the August Instructional Leader retreat, and of each of the secondary sites as course-alike teams of teachers work to implement changes to instruction, assessment, and grading practices.


The PAUSD Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) Department shares multiple partnerships with local and national organizations. Locally, TheatreWorks, Stanford Live, Palo Alto Children’s Theatre, and The Palo Alto Art Center collaborate with District Coordinator Nancy Coffey to expand, enrich, and deepen opportunities in the arts for all PAUSD students. Nationally, PAUSD partners with the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, to align professional learning for arts teachers and classroom teachers through a lense of arts integration. The Kennedy Center’s sole education purpose is based on the belief that “teachers' professional learning is an essential component of any effort designed to increase the artistic literacy of young people.”

Looking forward to the 2019-20 school year, two significant opportunities currently exist. Stanford Live will host the re-make of the first all-African American opera, Treemonisha, by Scott Joplin. The opera will be staged and presented in the Paly Performing Arts Center in April. Paly students will engage with the opera performers during the school day and attend a matinee performance. The PAUSD VAPA Department and Stanford Live will partner to offer four teacher workshops focusing on a variety of performing arts, and five student matinees.


The Innovation and Agility - Curriculum & Career Education (CCE) office is working with the National Academy Foundation (NAF) to expand students’ career preparation opportunities. The plan is to further develop Early Childhood Development (ECD) and Automotive Technology pathway programs to include new internship opportunities and establish NAFTrack certification in the 2019-20 school year. NAFTrack certifies students meeting academic proficiency, project execution, and internship performance, providing value to students throughout their careers by serving as a differentiator in the hiring process. NAFTrack certification is a lifelong certification. In addition, to help build Paly’s engineering and Gunn’s business pathway program, NAF will be facilitating with the Year of Planning (YOP) process. Finally, some of the summer work for the CCE office entails revamping our existing Career Technical Education (CTE) Advisory Committee. The purpose of the CTE Advisory Committee is to develop recommendations on the program and to provide liaison between the District and industry, and/or potential employers.

Strategic Initiatives and Operations


Heading into the 2019-20 school year, PAUSD has assigned Yolanda (Lana) Conaway to her new role as the Assistant Superintendent of Equity and Student Affairs. Joining Lana’s team is Miguel Fittoria, who will lead the District’s efforts to engage and empower students and families. Miguel has extensive experience in effective after-school programs, parent outreach, and student advocacy. Miguel’s work will focus on identifying needs and assisting schools and families with removing barriers to success. He brings a passion and commitment to meeting the needs of underserved students, and will serve as a key member of the Equity by Design Team.

Also joining the team is Hillary Miller, former principal of Palo Verde Elementary School. Hillary will lead efforts to develop a robust student assistance program under the Multi-Tiered Systems of Support Framework (MTSS). Hillary is a veteran educator with years of special education and leadership experience. Hillary shares the team’s deep sense of responsibility and accountability for the success of all students and is excited to join the equity work in such an important and impactful role.  

The Student Services Team, including Director of Wellness and Support Services, Miriam Stevenson, and Student Services Coordinator, Lissette Moore-Guerra, will round out a dynamic team of professionals focused on supporting schools and the whole child.

Guided by the PAUSD Promise, the team will focus the District’s efforts on:

  • Building the capacity for our schools to meet the needs of diverse learners;
  • Ensuring that every student has access to programs, services, activities, and enrichment experiences that lead to current and future success;
  • Creating environments where all students and families feel safe, welcome, respected, and valued as part of the school community; and
  • Increasing student and family connectedness and building partnerships and trust.

The new redesign of the Strategic Initiatives Office demonstrates our investment in equity. We look forward to a year of growth for our students and our schools.


We are excited to announce our high-quality Extended School Year (ESY). We have ESY classes for all grade levels, preschool to Post-Secondary. ESY will be held Monday-Friday, June 6-July 3. The purpose of ESY is to assist special education students, who qualify through their Individualized Education Plan (IEP), in maintaining the skills that are at risk of significant regression over extended school breaks. 

Technology Department


This is the time of year we ask for authorization to continue the technology refresh program for the upcoming school year. This item looks slightly different this year in that only one vendor, Apple, is identified in the agenda item. Staff will be convening a group in the fall to re-evaluate the standard issued Chromebook. After this group has decided upon an updated standard, another agenda item will be brought forward that will name the vendor for the 2019-20 standard issue Chromebook.


Technology staff works to maintain a consistent and reliable network and infrastructure. The summer months are a busy time for our team members as projects move forward to perform patches, updates, and reboots to critical network devices. These projects may cause temporary outages in various services. Our real-time status map is available for anyone to view any current outages.


In response to an increase in spam and phishing attacks over the past six months, our team migrated to a new email filter on Monday afternoon. As with any content filtering change, there will be an adjustment period when some messages might be incorrectly quarantined. Each staff member will receive a daily quarantine notification message if any items have been quarantined, and may do a single click to deliver a message or whitelist a particular sender.

The new filter provides greater visibility and control into the legitimacy of email messages sent to @pausd.org addresses. We encourage all individuals and companies who do business with us to ensure their email systems follow with industry standard practices such as SPFDKIM, and DMARC to ensure emails are properly delivered.