March 15, 2019

Superintendent’s Office


Santa Clara County Supervisor, Joe Simitian, held a Town Hall meeting at the City Hall Chambers on March 14. Our PAUSD PTA held a pre-meeting rally to express our desire for full mitigation of the proposed Stanford University housing project. Our PTA and community have been excellent partners and have influenced this process significantly.

Our formal talks with Stanford resume later this month. Both teams are in place and a third-party facilitator is being vetted at this moment. We have an internal agreement that negotiations will be confidential, and April 12 is the latest date we would reach an agreement before turning the process completely over to the County. 


We will have a draft A-G report ready for the Board to review very soon. As a reminder, students participate in a course of study to prepare for University of California admissions eligibility. It is possible to graduate from PAUSD ineligible for UC admissions if grades earned in courses were less than a C. It is also entirely possible that a student may gain admission to colleges across the country without UC eligibility. 

I had the opportunity to meet with all PAUSD counselors together earlier this week. We discussed the importance of early warning notification systems for students, including correcting gaps as early as possible. Our two high schools have different philosophies and delivery models. While that may be acceptable, both need to provide similar guarantees of services. We have a good group of professionals with a desire to support our students at the highest levels. Everyone understands we have hard work ahead. 


I have continued my effort to meet with as many parents and community members as possible. The PAUSD Promise has provided an outstanding platform to frame conversations. The working document can be found at Many have expressed positive feelings about the concise nature of the plan and clarity around our direction. I also had the opportunity to meet with representatives from the Latino Parent Network. I learned a great deal from their perspective and plan to meet with the group regularly.  


The Palo Alto City Manager, Ed Shikada, has been an excellent partner this year. He recently visited the Embarcadero crossing at Paly and agreed that the area could benefit from improvements. The lines, including the KEEP CLEAR space, will be repainted shortly. We are looking at additional steps to make the crossing as safe as possible.

We are discussing options for our buses if Churchill Avenue is closed in the future at the Alma train crossing. Since this is a main route for our buses, we have a shared concern about changing routes to further the impact of traffic on El Camino Real. We are confident that a solution exists. We just need to find it!

Education Services


Middle school math teachers from each PAUSD middle school are redesigning the Bridge to Algebra 8 course, available for rising 8th grade students, as an online summer course. The course becomes available to students beginning June 6, 2019, and must be completed by August 2, 2019. In-person office hours (at JLS) will occur during summer school weeks (June 6 – July 3). Additional office hours will be available online. The office hours will be staffed by a variety of PAUSD Math 7A, Algebra 8, Algebra 1, and Algebra 1A teachers throughout the summer.

The final exam for the course will be proctored at each middle school during the first week of August. Students should earn 80% or better on the final to successfully matriculate to Algebra 8. Note that the Bridge to Algebra 8course is appropriate for solid Math 7 students who wish to change to the accelerated course and for struggling Math 7A students who wish to remain in the accelerated lane for 8th grade. PAUSD math leadership hopes that this shift will support middle school families’ summer schedules.


The Innovation and Agility Department, working with Foothill College and DeAnza College in conjunction with our industry partners, including Holman Automotive Group, Audi of Palo Alto, and Palo Alto Community Child Care (PACCC), submitted three Career Technical Education (CTE) grant applications through the State of California’s K-12 Strong Workforce Program (SWP). If funded, these new grants will provide resources to upgrade and expand Early Childhood Development, Sports Medicine/Kinesiology, and Auto Pathways. The K-12 Strong Workforce Program was created to foster collaboration between K-12 education and community colleges in order to build career pipelines in CTE.


The spring job fairs are being hosted at Paly on March 13 and at Gunn on March 18. The employers at these events provide information and access to students interested in employment. There are exciting summer job opportunities and a diverse representation across a variety of industry sectors, including Amazon, City of Palo Alto, Great America, MindStrong Health, and more. This continued level of community engagement provides students with opportunities to gain real world experiences, foster connections that go beyond the classroom experience, and gain skills that prepare them for future careers.


Registration Services met with Santa Clara Unified and San Jose Unified School Districts to share best practices related to student registration and enrollment. Discussion topics included the advantages of centralized registration, trends in enrollment numbers, useful software tools, and strategies for successful customer service outcomes. Registration Services will host similar information exchange events in the future to explore opportunities to enhance our current practices.  


For the past few weeks, TheatreWorks has been visiting elementary schools to present Oskar and the Big Bully Battle. Oskar and his pals teach students skills for handling the ever-growing epidemic of bullying that occurs in schools every day. Through this show, students learn the same lesson as Oskar – that you always have a choice. Oskar and the Big Bully Battle is an interactive play filled with humor, excitement, and imagination. Please see here for pictures of the play.

Piper LaGrelius, Theatre Artist with TheatreWorks, is currently working with PAUSD elementary classroom teachers to integrate theatre arts into language arts, math, science, and social emotional lessons. Teachers attended 16 hours of training in the summer of 2018. During the school year, each teacher receives 16 hours of mentoring in his or her classroom with Piper. Arts Integration makes learning fun, active, and supports all types of learners. For more information about Arts Integration in PAUSD, you can visit our website.


Congratulations to the seven students who recently qualified for the Biology Olympiad Semifinal test. During the week of March 18, Gunn and Palo Alto High Schools will be offering the Chemistry Olympiad. Chemistry Olympiad is a national program to promote excellence in Chemistry. Science teachers are able to provide additional information to interested students.


Last week, the primary grades at El Carmelo Elementary School worked with the Teachers College Staff Developer on phonics and writing instruction. The K-2 teachers worked on refining their teaching of the new Phonics Units of Study and honed their small groups skills in reading, writing, and/or phonics. The teachers ended their three days inspired to continue this thoughtful work.

As spring approaches, sites have looked towards end-of-the-year planning and crafting a scope and sequence responsive to the diverse needs of their students. This week, the Elementary TOSA team continued to work with school sites on Bridges implementation,  math planning, and differentiation. During the open professional dialogue, teachers expressed interest in the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) grade-level checklist and identified the required fluencies for K-5 math progression. This type of collaborative work will continue into next year as we approach year three with Bridges in Mathematics.

On Wednesday, March 13, the Reading Specialists met with the Chief Academic Officer of Elementary Education and Assistant Superintendent of Strategic Initiatives and Operations to discuss next steps in choosing a universal tool for student Dyslexia screenings. The Program Evaluation Coordinator led a discussion about the data and District trends for Response to Intervention (RTI) Tier 2 Reading Intervention. This team of reading experts brought up many important points to consider throughout the meeting.

The Elementary TOSAs continue to coach and collaborate with teachers throughout the District in reading, writing, and math. Additionally, they are supporting the many long-term substitutes across the district.

Strategic Initiatives and Operations


Eighty-five community members including staff members, students, administrators, and Board members attended this community event, “Learn the Basic ABCs About LGBTQ+ Youth,” organized by the Fletcher Middle School PTA. The event focused on helping attendees understand gender identities, sexual orientation, and how to support LGBTQ+ youth in our schools, homes, and community. Presenters included parent and staff representatives of PAUSD’s LGBTQ+ Council, community agency outlet, students, and parents. Please see the presentation and LGBTQ+ resources for elementary and middle schools.


Gunn school counselors attended a training at Acalanes High School sponsored by Naviance. The topics covered at this training helped counselors better utilize the Naviance Program for College, Career, and Life Readiness. Counselors explored how to use built-in assessments to help students plan for post-graduation and increasing access to, and ease of, exploring scholarship opportunities.


During Paly’s Community College Week, March 18-22, college and career counselors will hold daily information sessions exploring the opportunities available at community colleges. Sessions will include discussions from Paly alumni attending local community colleges, as well as presentations that will highlight reasons to attend community college, programs available including certificate and transfer paths, the application process, and debunking myths. Representatives from several local community colleges will also be available. The Transfer Center Counselor from the College of San Mateo will also present on the transfer process, agreements, and requirements.


This week in Advisory at Paly, Teacher Advisors presented a lesson designed by the College and Career Advisor about the role of letters of recommendations in the college application process. The lesson included a discussion of the purpose of these recommendations, myths about who can write effective teacher recommendations, reading and evaluating a sample letter, and guidelines to support students as they ask teachers for recommendations.


While we are approaching the end of flu season, we are still seeing spikes in absences due to influenza-like illnesses. An influenza-like illness is a fever (temperature of 100 degrees or higher), and a cough or sore throat. Wellness & Support Services have been monitoring the increase, and are working with school sites on guidelines for cleaning and best practices to keep students healthy. Preventative measures include: good hand washing hygiene; routinely cleaning high touch surfaces; covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your bent arm; and avoiding touching your nose, mouth, and eyes with your hands. If you or your child gets sick, make sure to get plenty of rest and drink enough fluids. Your child should remain home until they have been fever-free without fever reducing medications for 24 hours. Follow up with your health care provider on when to return. If you have any questions, please contact Health Services.


Health Services is partnering with Human Resources to provide TB assessments to employees on Wednesday, March 20, from 1:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m., and Friday, March 22, from 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m., at the District Office. Certificated and classified employees are required to provide proof that they were examined and found free from active TB at initial hire and every four years after. For information on when you are due for a TB assessment and future TB Clinic dates, please contact Human Resources.


On Thursday, March 7, Gunn’s Mental Health and Wellness Coordinator joined other local mental health clinicians, doctors, and educators on a panel at Children’s Health Council (CHC). The event was designed to help families and youth understand the mental health supports available in our community and how they can access them when needed. The video recording of the event is available on the CHC Resource Library.


JLS’s counseling team and Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Committee have organized a schoolwide Wellness Week from March 18-22. Activities during the week are designed to remind everyone to take a moment to tend to their overall mental, emotional, and physical health. SPARK Week will incorporate events that will enhance wellness, and promote a cohesive and fun environment.

SPARK is a short acronym for all to increase our coping and overall health and sense of well-being by focusing on helping explore ways to manage our reactions to life’s stressors. S for Stress Management through relaxation techniques; P for Passion and being able to pursue the things we care about; A for Attitude and the mindset we adopt towards things; R for healthy Relationships; and K for Kinesthetic activities to keep us healthy through movement. Activities that help us relax and recharge include:

bubbles, pinwheels, therapy dogs, slime-making, 101 Ways to Have Fun, Forgiveness Presentation (inspired by the work of Nelson Mandela), and an end-of-the-week outdoor dance party. Staff and students are invited to wear their sparkly clothes and bring their dance moves!

Technology Department


The 2019 calendar year has brought with it a sharp increase in the number of spear phishing attempts via email. These attacks are generally targeted at board members, cabinet members, and employees that manage financial transactions for our organization. The increase in attempts has not been limited to PAUSD – our counterparts around the county and state have seen this as well.

The best defense is knowledge, so please:

  1. Remember that PAUSD Technology Staff will NEVER ask for your password.
  2. Be extra vigilant about suspicious emails, even ones coming from addresses asking for sensitive information.
  3. Be careful with links, and only click on those that you are expecting. Any suspicious emails can be forwarded to: for review.
  4. Contact immediately if you believe you may have fallen victim to an attack.