May 3, 2019

Superintendent’s Office


The projected Board agenda is still subject to change. At this time, we are considering:

  • PAUSD Promise – Wellness and Safety
  • Palo Alto Educators Association (PAEA) and Palo Alto Management Association (PAMA) contract and compensation approval
  • High school History/Social Studies textbook adoption
  • Stanford University General Use Permit (GUP) conditional agreement
  • Homework survey data 


We held a successful information night for our incoming TK families. The event was well attended and positive. We are ensuring that every predictable detail is handled leading to the launch of two new TK sites at Duveneck and Barron Park.


Dr. Argumedo has reached out to families to personally discuss the gradual phasing out of school sites. There was confusion about the pace of the transition. At the elementary level, only future kindergarten classes were closed – current students can continue as they wish. We will reevaluate the busing situation to the schools phasing out at a later date. Another two years of busing is already guaranteed, and will likely be extended if students are still in their current schools.  

We have conceded to everyone that the plan and intent was solid, but the proactive communication could have been better. Improving communication is a goal for most organizations. Ultimately, effective communication is the responsibility of the superintendent. There are reasons why this one may have fallen short, which can be corrected in the future. 


As part of our future commitment through the PAUSD Promise, I met with the Associated Student Body (ASB) students at Paly to discuss the concept of a Superintendent’s Advisory Committee. The same process will be replicated later at Gunn. The general idea includes reaching a wide range of students to brainstorm things that are important to our students. For example, a meeting with ASB students earlier this year turned into new skateboard racks at our schools. Some topics would be light and others may have significant complexity. The Paly students helped me frame up what a working group may entail. As always, the meeting was a reminder of how great our kids are! 


Principal Jim Sherman expressed safety concerns about the proposed location of new buildings along Charleston. Specifically, he was concerned about site lines for vehicles exiting the lots and potential obstructions from the new building. Our team is evaluating the current plans and may make a revision. With so many projects in motion, it may make sense to schedule routine construction updates during our Board meetings. 


I had the opportunity to meet with representatives from Palo Alto Housing to discuss their thoughts concerning staff housing. As an independent non-profit organization, they currently house roughly 2,200 Palo Alto residents. They may be an excellent fit for an upcoming Board meeting to have an introductory conversation about what is possible.  They have worked in Palo Alto for 49 years and already have partnerships with PAUSD. 


PAUSD should keep a close eye on the “split roll” initiative. As a community-funded school district, we may have negative exposure to an initiative for a state constitutional amendment changing how taxes are collected from businesses. According to experts in this field, it is likely that the ballot initiative may be diverted to a legislative solution. Any potential reallocation of business taxes from PAUSD will be closely evaluated. Readers may want to look through a brief description of the current initiative here.


Alva Spence and I met this week. She would like to pursue a way for our families to order meals electronically. This would potentially take the place of our current “paper and pencil” approach. She believes that an upgrade in this area could improve the end-user experience and help her staff prepare accurately


I am a member of CALSA and believe we can tap into the organization more moving forward. My background includes growing up in Chula Vista and serving large populations of Latino students throughout my career. For both of those reasons, I have been involved with CALSA for some time. I recently submitted an application to volunteer as a mentor for future Latino administrators in California. Equity involves active participation, recruitment, and mentorship.


We are excited for Lisa Hickey to embrace her new role as the Director of Certificated Human Resources. She has been a member of our negotiations team and has completed the ACSA Human Resources Academy. She will transition officially on July 1.

Pending Board approval, Chris Grierson will become the principal of JLS Middle School.  Mr. Grierson has served as the principal of Duveneck Elementary School for the last eight years and previously held roles as a teacher, dean, and assistant principal at JLS.  He has twice attended the Principal Institute at Harvard University and is highly respected across PAUSD.

Mr. Grierson expressed gratitude to his staff, students, and families at Duveneck. He requested the transfer as a professional growth opportunity and chance to return to his former site. A confirmation committee supported his request and Mr. Grierson has enthusiastically accepted the appointment.

A full search is in progress for elementary principals at Duveneck and Palo Verde. The quick move with Mr. Grierson allows us time to recruit during the “hiring season” this year. Both schools will have large representation throughout the processes.

Education Services


PAUSD’s Palo Alto Career Training (PACT) program at the Veterans Affairs (VA) Hospital is the recipient of a 2019 Glenn Hoffman Exemplary Program Award, given by the Santa Clara County School Boards Association. The program was honored at a dinner on April 24. We are proud to celebrate this program that puts students front and center, and embodies the best of public education.

The PACT program teaches skills through direct instruction and work experience, preparing students to obtain, maintain, and sustain meaningful employment. Students with an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 Plan work with a job coach and receive on-site job training at the VA Hospital, gaining exposure to a variety of work experiences.

To see the program in action and learn a little more about it, you can watch this short video that was presented at the awards ceremony.


The PAUSD Youth Art Show is open now through May 19 at the Palo Alto Art Center during normal business hours. There are 959 pieces of student art in the exhibition! Included in the show are the collaborative works of art from the Cultural Kaleidoscope program.

The May Fete Parade will take place Saturday, May 4, downtown Palo Alto, beginning at 10:00 a.m. Marching bands from Gunn, Paly, Fletcher, Greene, JLS, as well as 5th grade students, will be marching in the parade.  

Next Friday and Saturday, May 10 and 11, the Palo Alto High School Performing Arts Center will host performances by 12 of PAUSD’s middle school and high school choral ensembles, in addition to 12 choral ensembles from Santa Clara County. Host organizers are Michael Najar and Brittney Kerby, Paly Choir Directors. The schedule is available here

A list of upcoming Performing Arts Events and Concerts is available by clicking here.


“Since 1997, Stanford Anthology for Youth (S.A.Y.) has published an annual literary and artistic review of work by Bay Area middle school students. [They] give young writers and artists the opportunity to hone, revise, and publish their best work. Most of all, S.A.Y. aim[s] to spark conversation between students, parents, and teachers about the things that are most important to them." This year, S.A.Y. editors will publish ten JLS students' work. Congratulations to...

Emma Cao                                       Artwork                    “Keep on Going”

Sydney Cook                                  Fiction                        “All Our Broken Parts”

Orion Kudson-Criales                   Artwork                     “The Circles of Thought”

                                                            Fiction                     “The Peaceful Attack”

Ryan Lee                                          Fiction                       “The Secrets of My Tutor”

Camila Lopez-Domaica                Artwork                      “Golden Hour”

Anjani Mirchandani                       Artwork                    “The Tango of Trees”

                                                          Artwork                    “Vulnerable”

Megan Murakami                            Fiction                     “A Ray of Hope”

Deven Pawar                                   Fiction                      “Score”

Archith Seshadri                            Poetry                       “The Conviction”

Michael Zhang                                Fiction                       “Beaned”


The Elementary SABE Math four-week pilot program concluded on April 27. These 4th and 5th graders worked closely with six teachers to strengthen their math skills in preparation for the upcoming California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP). Students rotated in small groups among Bridges Intervention, the Mathematics Assessment Resource Service (MARS) Tasks, Number Talks, the DreamBox Learning computer program, and Science Technology Engineering Art and Math (STEAM). The program proved successful, with 88% of the 33 students who completed the program showing improvement.


On Monday, April 29, the Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics (STEAM) Inquiry Group met for their final meeting of the year. The agenda included science professional learning support, the California Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) Toolkit for Instructional Material Evaluation (TIME), and the timeline for the Elementary Science Materials Pilot and Adoption Committee.

 The meeting began with a bubble design challenge and ended with exploration of the 12 K-5 California State-Approved Science Curriculums. The STEAM Inquiry Group will transition into the 2019-20 Elementary Science Materials Pilot and Adoption Committee, where the focus will be on exploring all 12 state-approved science curriculums to determine two curriculums for piloting.


Over the past few weeks, 4th and 5th graders have been completing a short survey about their computer science experiences, both in and outside of school. This baseline information will be studied by the PAUSD Elementary CS Committee in mid-May. The summative data will be shared with elementary principals. A significant school-by-school baseline computer science study will be completed in the fall semester of 2019 in order to create a computer science-needs assessment, as recommended by the California Department of Education in its Draft Computer Science Strategic Implementation Plan (DOCX) .


After a competitive review process by the Bay Region K-12 Strong Workforce Program (SWP) Selection Committee, we are excited to announce that our Early Childhood Development (ECD) application was one of the 40 selected out of the 69 total applicants. The Innovation and Agility Department has been awarded $371,250 from the State of California’s K-12 Strong Workforce Program (SWP) for ECD. The K-12 SWP is funded by the Chancellor’s office. The ECD application was submitted in collaboration with Foothill College and Palo Alto Community Child Care (PACCC). This fund will foster the collaboration between K-12 education and community colleges that build career pipelines in our ECD pathway.

Strategic Initiatives and Operations


On April 23, an Autism Awareness training was conducted at the Duveneck Kids Club. The 30-minute training was developed for the after-school program staff that work with the unique population of students on the Autism Spectrum. The purpose of the training is to provide faculty and staff the strategies on how to facilitate independence among our students with autism. The training covers basic information about autism, how students are identified, as well as strategies and tips for working and redirecting students on the spectrum. Attendees found the training informative.


The Family Talk: Puberty Workshop was held on May 1 at the District Office in partnership with Health Connected. Families of all structures were invited to join this workshop where adults and children explored the physical changes of puberty. Led by the Health Connected Parent Engagement Coordinator, members from 17 families joined us to learn, laugh, and share together.


On April 29 and April 30, four members of the Wellness and Support Services (WSS) attended the 5th Annual NorCal PBIS/School Climate Symposium sponsored by the SCCOE. This symposium entitled, Telling the Truth About Our Systems and Creating a Compassion-Informed Response, allowed participants to engage in deep listening, reflection, dialogue, and promote the creation of systems with compassion utilizing the PBIS and Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) frameworks. WSS team members attended workshops related to Trauma Informed Practices, Building Cultural Competency Within a PBIS Framework, Building a MTSS for Social-Emotional Learning, and MTSS Model Student Attendance Review Board (SARB). The WSS team members will incorporate valuable information learned into current District practices. 


In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, the Wellness and Support Services Department is promoting Wellness Wednesdays. Each Wednesday, students and staff are invited to participate in healthy activities, practice coping skills, and strengthen positive connections in the community. This year’s theme, “We never walk alone,” is meant to remind our community that we are not alone and that our well-being as individuals impacts the well-being of others. This message is especially important for adults, as our kids can only be as healthy as we are.


Paly hosted a Career Programs Fair with representatives from 14 different Career/Vocational programs from various industries (cosmetology, fashion, military, apprenticeships, etc.) sharing information with interested students.

The College Advisors and the First-Generation Advisor visited the Senior AVID class to review student financial aid packages and follow up on scholarships, housing deposits, and deadlines. Each First-Generation Senior also received individualized support to finalize their college choice and plan for deadlines, orientation, and transitioning to their new school. The First-Generation Juniors learned about summer and fall enrichment opportunities, letters of recommendations, and the college exploration and application process.

Research, Evaluation, and Assessment (REA) Department

This week, the REA Department did the following:

  • Supported school sites as they finished their Site Plans for Student Achievement (SPSA).
  • Completed a full draft of the District’s Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) and submitted it to the Santa Clara County Office of Education for review in the LCAP process.
  • Co-led the first of three planning days to develop a Districtwide common writing assessment (CWA) at each middle school grade level.
  • Managed ongoing administration of CAASPP testing, with high school finishing this week, elementary and middle schools testing until May 17, and non-public schools testing through June 7. This includes partnering with site staff, the IT Department, and the California Department of Education (CDE) as needed to ensure that testing goes as smoothly as possible at all sites. Visit the CDE’s new website for more information about the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP). 
  • Co-led, along with Student Services, the final meeting of the A-G Design Team.  This team has been working to improve tracking and reporting of graduates’ A-G eligibility status. The team is putting into place revisions to transcript reviews for graduates as well as students transferring into the district.
  • Partnered with the District English Learner (EL) Teachers On Special Assignment (TOSAs) to manage the English Language Proficiency Assessment of California (ELPAC) summative assessment administration at all sites for English learners in grades TK-12, which is ongoing through the end of the school year. Visit the CDE’s new website for more information about the ELPAC.
  • Managed the California Physical Fitness Testing (PFT) at all sites for 5th, 7th, and 9th graders, with elementary winding down and secondary sites ramping up. To learn more about this assessment, visit the PFT website
  • Revised the elementary local assessment data system to have automated reporting features for site staff, and launched the system for the spring literacy and math assessment window.
  • REA continued to deliver a monthly standing report to the Board on chronic absenteeism. The charts are available online.
  • As shared in the April 12 Superintendent’s Board Update, CAASPP 2019 electronic student score reports (SSRs) will be made available to parents/guardians through the Infinite Campus Parent Portal. In addition, parents of ELs will have access to the ELPAC score report through the Parent Portal. This week, the California Department of Education launched the “Starting Smarter” websites for CAASPP and ELPAC which includes links to sample score reports, sample test questions, and additional information for parents and guardians. Visit CAASPP Starting Smarter and ELPAC Starting Smarter.
  • Worked on Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) with the HR Department. For more information, visit the CRDC website.  

Technology Department


It is the time of the year for all current families to complete the Annual Data Update process within Infinite Campus. Completing this process is required by California law to validate residency, emergency contacts, and health information, and ensure continued enrollment in PAUSD schools. Email notifications will be sent out on Monday, May 6. The contents of the message is available on our website.