May 24, 2019

Superintendent’s Office


The upcoming agenda has some complexity and may require more time than usual. Closed Session has a start time of 4:00 p.m. with an expected end time of 6:30 p.m. Open Session will still begin at the normal 6:30 p.m. The earlier time is due to the Board’s need to hold the superintendent’s evaluation meeting, routinely attached to a Special Meeting in the past. 


We are delaying the Dyslexia update and Middle College item until June 11. We are in the process of exploring some options with Middle College that could change the content of the item, and believe a few weeks will produce a better item for consideration and discussion. The same staff responsible for Dyslexia work is also responsible for the PAUSD Promise Equity and Excellence section, and requested to split the two items. By granting the request, each item will receive the attention it deserves. Some items of note include:

  • Approval of principals for Palo Verde and Duveneck.
  • Approval of Chief Business Officer candidate.
  • Tax and Revenue Anticipation Notes (TRAN) rationale and benefits.
  • Approval of our Student and Family Engagement Coordinator – an essential piece of our Equity work.
  • Approval of adding June 18 as a Regular Board Meeting to comply with budget and Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) approvals (two meetings in June are required).
  • PAUSD Promise Equity and Excellence discussion lead by Yolanda Conaway. We pasted the entire website section in the body of the item at the request of Board members.
  • Resolution to authorize issuance and sale of $30,000,000 in bonds.
  • Approve projects at Gunn and Paly.
  • Compensation and successor agreements with several senior management contracted positions.


The County of Santa Clara Planning and Development Commission will hold a hearing on May 30 at 6:00 p.m. in the Palo Alto City Hall chambers to discuss Stanford University’s General Use Permit (GUP). Unfortunately, this opportunity to share our thoughts regarding PAUSD falls on our high school graduation night. As a result, our senior management will be unable to represent our District at the hearing. 


The City of Palo Alto is holding a meeting to discuss their portion of the Cubberley project on June 3. They expect to spend time discussing housing on the property as part of their potential plan for the future. 


Families provided valuable feedback about ways to improve our Family Engagement Specialists (FES) program on May 23 during a meeting and dinner. Ms. Conaway led the effort with support from the FES and Special Education staff. Family engagement will be a focus of our equity work heading into next year. Pending Board approval, we believe Michael “Miguel” Fittoria (formerly of DreamCatchers and PAUSD graduate) will become a key member of our team to address equity through engagement.


We are holding to the recent tradition of high school graduation on the last Wednesday of school, and middle school promotions on the last Thursday.


PALO ALTO, CA – Dr. Don Austin, Superintendent of Schools, is pleased to announce that principal appointments for Palo Verde Elementary and Duveneck Elementary will be presented for approval at the upcoming Board meeting on May 28, 2019. Dr. Austin will also present for approval the appointment of the Chief Business Officer. We believe that these appointments will bring strengths, positive energy, and commitment to student success.

Palo Verde Elementary Principal – Annora Lee

Annora Lee is currently the elementary assistant principal at Ohlone and Escondido Elementary Schools. She has provided site leadership to their choice, neighborhood, and language programs for three years.

Prior to Palo Alto, Lee spent 14 years as a classroom teacher in the Evergreen School District. She has also served as an instructional coach and Title I specialist. She holds bachelor’s degrees in liberal studies and economics, and master’s degrees in interdisciplinary education and educational administration from Santa Clara University. Areas of professional interest and experience include project-based lesson design, social emotional learning, and Readers and Writer’s Workshop.

Annora Lee will replace Hillary Miller.

Duveneck Elementary Principal – Leslie Crane

Leslie Crane is an educational leader who possesses a strong and comprehensive K-8 educational foundation. She has been a successful elementary and middle school principal in the Los Altos and the Redwood City School Districts. Ms. Crane is coming to PAUSD from her role as the principal of TK-8th grade site, Clifford School, in the Redwood City School District.

Ms. Crane has previously served as the Director of Human Resources for the Redwood City School District and held responsibilities including negotiations, evaluation, recruiting, and oversight of Title IX and Equity Compliance issues.

Leslie Crane will replace Chris Grierson.

Chief Business Officer – Carolyn Chow

Carolyn Chow comes to PAUSD from her current role as the CBO of San Mateo Foster City School District. Prior to her time in Foster City, Ms. Chow served as the CBO of the Las Lomitas Elementary School District. With more than a decade of combined CBO experience, she is poised to make an instant impact. Ms. Chow has worked successfully on bond campaigns and construction projects, negotiations, position control, and all matters related to school finance. Carolyn is a graduate of Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo and resides locally.

Carolyn Chow will replace Jim Novak.

Education Services


Greendell held its annual Rising Kinder Luncheon this past Wednesday, May 22. The event was held for children and their families from all of the Greendell programs who will be entering PAUSD kindergarten this fall. Picnic tables were labeled with the name of all twelve elementary schools. Children and families were asked to bring their lunch and meet other friends who will be attending the same PAUSD school in the fall. Principals from the elementary schools were invited to the event to meet their incoming families. It was a very well-attended event, and students and parents were excited to meet their new principal and friends.


Last week, the Elementary Teachers on Special Assignment (TOSAs) attended an institute on Digital and Media Literacy, offered through TCRWP. The presenters demonstrated best practices for integrating 21st Century Skills into Reading and Writing Workshop, and across all subjects. The training highlighted that children must be explicitly taught how to read and navigate digital texts. In response to this training, the TOSAs are now designing new Professional Learning workshops for next year that will focus on instructional strategies that integrate digital literacy as a means to enhance classroom instruction.


The Elementary Education Department  is partnering with TCRWP to plan a four-day Teachers College Homegrown Reading Institute and a one-day Phonics Institute, both to be held in July. We are thrilled to have these top experts come to PAUSD to work with our teachers and leadership team this summer. The focus of the Reading Institute will be on supporting children's reading through individual conferences, small groups, and interactive read-alouds. The one-day Phonics Institute, for kindergarten through 2nd grade teachers, will dive deeper into new phonics units of study.


The State Seal of Biliteracy (SSB) is a program that recognizes the biliterate skills of high school graduates. The SSB is awarded to students through criteria set by the State of California. PAUSD has participated in the SSB program since the 2013-14 school year.

This year, 179 students at Gunn High School and 43 at Palo Alto High School qualified to receive the SSB. The array of languages included: Spanish, Mandarin, French, Japanese, German, Korean, Hebrew, and American Sign Language, with 33 students qualifying for more than one SSB.                     

To qualify for the Seal of Biliteracy, each of the following three academic requirements shall be fulfilled:

1.   Students must have completed all English Language Arts (ELA) requirements for graduation, with an overall grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 or above for those classes.

2.   Students must have passed the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) in ELA (administered in grade 11) at the “proficient” level.

3.   Students must demonstrate proficiency in one or more languages other than English through one of the following methods:

  • Pass a foreign language Advanced Placement (AP) exam (inclusive of American Sign Language) with a score of 3 or higher.
  • Pass an International Baccalaureate (IB) foreign language examination with a score of 4 or higher.
  • Successfully complete a four-year high school course of study in a foreign language, and attain an overall GPA of 3.0 or above in that course of study.
  • Pass the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) II foreign language exam with a score of 600 or higher.


Each year, PAUSD runs a program to support students who are first in their family to attend college through the Realizing Individual Success in Education for Undergraduate Preparation (RISE UP) program described below. Many of these students have utilized either the District’s iConnect program or the high school Chromebook program for technology accessibility. When students graduate, they must return the computers to the school district, due to the regulation regarding gifting of public funds. In past years, anonymous donors have generously purchased 15-20 iPads for students participating in the RISE UP program, allowing students to rent textbooks instead of purchasing them, thus saving hundreds of dollars. It would be wonderful if iPads (fifth generation or above) would be donated for the students to take with them to college. For more information please contact Judy Argumedo, Director, Academic Supports.

The RISE UP program runs each year to support students who are first in their family to attend college. The course is a five-day program, with a parent component that focuses on topics such as living on campus, budgeting time and finances, resources available, and individual counseling on transitioning to college.


The Curriculum & Career Education (CCE) Celebratory Showcase was held at Paly’s new library on Friday, May 17. The displays highlighted Districtwide middle and high school CCE programs as a unified whole to celebrate students’ accomplishments, thank our mentors and community partners, and celebrate PAUSD’s 125th anniversary.

This collaborative event featured hundreds of students’ accomplishments, including Advanced Authentic Research (AAR) poster presentations, a car built by Auto Tech students, a photography gallery, student-built websites and computer applications, student films, go-karts and woodworking projects by middle school Industrial Tech students, Gunn Robotics Team’s 2019 robot, student-developed lesson plans by Early Childhood Development students, elementary students’ creations from the Creativity Carts program, refreshments by culinary arts students at all of our secondary schools, and more. A full list of student presentations is included in the event program.


Middle school science classes recently completed comprehensive sexuality education through a partnership with Health Connected. Health Connected provides Teen Talk Middle School lessons for implementation by PAUSD 7th grade teachers, or in partnership with Health Connected guest speakers. This updated program meets the new requirements of the California Healthy Youth Act.


Secondary District TOSAs facilitated a third release day for middle school English teachers. Five 7th grade teachers, representing each of the three middle schools, came together to create a common writing assessment (CWA). The group decided on a genre, began to construct a prompt and review source materials, and designed a common rubric. The 7th grade CWA will be administered at each of the sites in December of next year. Similar release days have already taken place for 6th and 8th grade English teachers.


The Fletcher 6th grade history-social science team took a release day to engage in professional learning and to work on aligning curriculum. Teachers created student-friendly unit guides, rooted in some of the strategies presented in Myron Dueck’s Grading Smarter, Not Harder (2014), and determined common learning targets and summative assessments for each of their units. The team also completed a common Scope and Sequence, which will guide pacing and Professional Learning Community (PLC) work during the 2019-20 school year.  


For many years, PAUSD has had an arrangement with Cañada College to provide math classes for students who have completed the most accelerated math classes offered on campus. Cañada has offered Multivariable Calculus and Linear Algebra in the afternoons, after school, on one of the two high school campuses. While the Math Steering Committee is grateful for this past partnership, after careful consideration, they determined that the District's evolving partnership with Foothill College to support the expansion of Dual Enrollment opportunities makes Foothill a natural solution to address some concerns expressed about the current setup.

After careful consideration, a Foothill instructor will be teaching the following courses: MATH 1C: Calculus (5 units), MATH 1D: Calculus (5 units), and MATH 2B: Linear Algebra (5 units) at Paly in 2019-20, honoring the decision made by the Math Steering Committee to offer these courses at alternating campuses each year. These courses were offered at Gunn this academic year. Therefore, they will be offered at Paly next year. The committee explored many ideas during this transition, such as offering the courses at the Foothill campus to avoid confusion caused by the alternating campus option. To manage this transition smoothly and minimize disruption for our students, the District is prioritizing the high-quality teaching element of the development. The other variables, such as location, will remain consistent and they will be reconsidered for the next phase of the development.

According to the California Community College Chancellor's Office's (CCCCO) guideline and dual enrollment tool kit (page 7), these math offerings fall under a single course dual enrollment option primarily geared towards the 11th and 12th grade for historically high-achieving students. Due to the nature of AB 288 College and Career Access Pathway Agreements outlined in California Education Code 76004, which offer eligibility and enrollment to students who may have struggled academically, these courses do not fall under the AB 288 agreements.


Carol Hung, a new Biomedical Engineering graduate of Cornell University and Paly class of 2015, was awarded the university's Merrill Presidential Scholar recognition. This award recognizes the top 1% (34 in 2019) of graduating students. Carol has taken an interdisciplinary approach to her studies at Cornell. She has been on the Dean's List every semester and is a member of Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honor society. Much of her four years were spent with Professor Nozomi Nishimura in research and innovation, studying cancer metastasis in the brain with iGEM, the synthetic biology project team. Professor Nishimura instills in her students the importance of exploring and finding balance in their studies, while also leaving room to discover other passions.

Carol also recognized retired PAUSD math teacher, Suz Antink, for teaching her some of her most important college skills in Analysis H and BC Calculus - to think critically and not to be afraid of asking for help. Dr. Antink instilled a sense of confidence in Carol that she carries with her every day. Through this recognition, Cornell awards a one-time $4,000 STAR Scholarship in Dr. Antink's name to an incoming Cornell student with financial need from her high school or geographical area. The Office of Financial Aid at Cornell University will review eligible candidates and award the scholarship.


PAUSD provides induction support to teachers in their first two years in the teaching profession. Completing the Induction Program, which includes weekly mentoring support and setting and working toward goals connected to the California Standards for the Teaching Profession, is a requirement of the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing for beginning teachers. PAUSD runs an accredited program, in partnership with the Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District (MVLA) and Los Gatos-Saratoga Union High School District (LGSUHSD). The three districts meet monthly for professional learning for coaches, and to collaborate across districts.

This week marked the end of this year’s Induction Program, as mentors reviewed portfolio submissions from participating teachers. In 2018-19, the program supported 54 teachers across the three districts: 8 from LGSUHSD,15 from MVLA, and 31 from PAUSD. Of those teachers, 25 from LGSUHSD, 8 from MVLA, and 15 from PAUSD, have earned a clear California Teaching Credential through successful completion of the program. Congratulations to all of our participating teachers, and sincere thanks to our dedicated mentors who provide support throughout the year!