September 13, 2019

Office of the Superintendent


Legislators and Governor Gavin Newsom’s administration have reached a late deal to place a $15 billion “Public Preschool, K-12, and College Health and Safety Bond Act of 2020” on the March 3, 2020 ballot. If passed, the new measure would overhaul major portions of the state’s School Facilities Program.

On balance, most stakeholders and districts were hoping parties would finalize a deal to ensure ongoing state support for local facilities. For many of those stakeholders, Assembly Bill 48 will accomplish that goal and may even provide benefits beyond our current program.

Before getting into the details of Assembly Bill 48 (O’Donnell), here are the need-to-know changes driving this equity-focused revamp of the School Facilities Program.

  • Increased grant sizes for New Construction and Modernization. Most districts are likely to see increased state matching grants under a new sliding scale that factors in a district’s unduplicated count and gross bonding capacity. Current state grant levels remain the floor.
  • New application processing and funding order. The “first in, first out” order of processing applications will be replaced by priority categories. Within each category, a new point system – based on a district’s unduplicated count and gross bonding capacity – will determine who is processed first.
  • Small district protections. Small school districts will be provided a grant for project and construction management and are entitled to a reservation of funds up to 10 percent of all New Construction and Modernization funding authorized by AB 48.
  • Financial hardship expanded. Districts with bonding capacities up to $15 million may qualify – a move that will capture more small districts as a result.
  • CTE, charters, and lead remediation get set-aside funding pots.
  • UC and CSU are funded.
  • Some preschools are now eligible expenditures for districts.

Assembly Member Patrick O’Donnell’s fact sheet summarizing the measure may be found here.

Our last Client Update discusses the Newsom administration’s late-hour intervention on AB 48 with just two weeks left in the legislative session. After a week of negotiations, the final bill language reflects changes that will fundamentally alter the state’s facilities bond program.

The latest language for AB 48 went public just minutes ago (the bill is now 95 pages). Please forgive us for any inadvertent errors in our reporting.

Okay, let’s get into the weeds of AB 48.

Which educational entities will receive funding under AB 48?

If voters approve the Public Preschool, K-12, and College Health and Safety Bond Act of 2020, the following educational entities will receive facilities funding:

Higher Education

  • $2 billion for University of California (UC) 
  • $2 billion for California State University (CSU)
  • $2 billion for California Community Colleges

Preschool through Grade 12

  • $2.8 billion for New Construction
  • $5.2 billion for Modernization (including $150 million for lead in waterremediation)
  • $500 million for Career Technical Education (CTE)
  • $500 million for Charter Schools

Preschool is inclusive within the traditional K-12 grants.

The addition of UC and CSU reflect the priorities of the Senate (see Senate Bill 14, Glazer) and the Governor, a former UC Regent and CSU Trustee. The prior version of AB 48 included funding for State Preschool Programs, a priority of many Assembly Members.

Is the “first in, first out” system of processing applications officially gone?

Yes. The current School Facilities Program (SFP) processes applications and apportions funding based on the order in which the applications are received. Exceptions arise in unique cases such as health and safety projects. Despite the certainty “first in, first out,” or FIFO, provides districts, the Department of Finance has long opposed the process, which it deems unfair.

In what order will applications be processed under AB 48?

New construction and Modernization applications will be processed based on the following prioritization categories. Within each category, applications will be processed based on their point score (more on this below), with higher scoring applications processed first.

Prioritization Categories for Processing Applications

Within each of the priorities, projects would be further prioritized based on inclusion of a project labor agreement. Application processing rounds will occur quarterly.

Note Priority 4, which elevates projects from districts that are not necessarily low-income or low-gross bonding capacity. Districts cannot be “bumped” more than two consecutive quarters without then going to the top of the list for the following quarter. Districts that are community funded or low unduplicated count districts will get their projects funded, and potentially faster than they would have under the old system depending on how far down the list they previously sat. Implementation of tis new priority system will smoke out any practical problems or injustices that we need to address… and we will.

Each category is a living list. As new applications are processed (quarterly) and added to their respective categories, existing projects within the categories will shift in line.

Will the same prioritization system be used for apportionments?

No. Each approved application will be apportioned through the same Priorities in Funding process used today, which is date-ordered. Funding cycles will occur twice per year.

What is this “point score” and how will it be used?

The point scoring system is another fundamental change to the current SFP. To help broaden access to state funding, AB 48 will advantage districts with lower property values and high numbers of low-income students. All applications will receive a point score based on their districts gross ­­bonding capacity per pupil, and its unduplicated pupil percentage. 

Calculating a District's Point Score

The point scale determines processing order, funding order (within the respective prioritization category), and will act as a funding order tiebreaker.

How will the state-to-local match change?

Currently, the state-to-local match is 50/50 for New Construction projects and 60/40 for Modernization projects (except for Financial Hardship applications). AB 48 preserves these ratios as a baseline but potentially yields higher ratios for districts with a higher point score.

District Point Score

Does AB 48 include a 2022 bond?

The 2022 bond proposal was removed from AB 48.

My district already submitted an application. Will we be subject to the new rules below?

It depends. Any applications funded under Proposition 51 will be subject to current law. Any project on the “beyond bond authority” Acknowledged List or received going forward is likely to be funded under AB 48’s rules. It may be a while before we get there, however. With $4.5 billion remaining in Proposition 51 funding, it will likely take another three fiscal years before we start tapping into the 2020 bond and applying those rules.

Are there other changes worth mentioning?

Let’s run through a number of important changes:

  • Local bonding capacity. The limit is being raised from 1.25% and 2%, to 2% and 4%, per Education Code §§ 15102 & 15268, and 15106 & 15270, respectively.
  • Facility master plans. Districts must provide an updated five-year facilities master plan in order to participate in the SFP.
  • Eligible expenditures. New Construction grants may be used to construct a school kitchen, a transitional kindergarten classroom, a facility to support a public preschool program, including, but not limited to, the California state preschool program, or a facility to support school nurses and counselors to increase access to health care and mental health services.

What’s not in this update?

There is much more in AB 48 to be explored. We do not cover developer fees, including partial fee exceptions for multifamily housing developments, and higher education bond provisions.

What’s next?

Amendments to Assembly Bill 48 (O’Donnell) went into print this evening and a committee hearing is scheduled for Thursday. Today is the last day to amend any bill into its final form during the 2019 legislative session. All bills must be voted on between now and Friday at midnight, or else be shelved until the next session, in January. Should AB 48 reach the Governor’s desk, we have every reason to believe he will sign it.


Informed, alert school communities play a critical role in keeping our District safe. We can all help keep our communities safer by paying attention to our surroundings and reporting suspicious activity to local law enforcement.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has designated September 25 as national “If You See Something, Say Something®” Awareness Day. The “If You See Something, Say Something®” campaign works with partners year-round to inspire, empower and educate the public on suspicious activity reporting. We will be sending out information on the topic as we get closer to the date. If you’re interested in testing your awareness, we encourage you to “Take The Challenge."

Education Services


The Innovation and Agility team has been providing support for Career and Technical Education (CTE) and Advanced Authentic Research (AAR) classes, helping them to successfully kick off the 2019-20 school year. Student-mentor matching for the 2019-20 AAR cohort has been finalized, and mentor/student forum events are scheduled for October at both Gunn and Palo Alto High Schools. These events provide students the opportunity to get feedback on general research questions from multiple mentors.

In collaboration with the National Academy Foundation (NAF), the following meetings will occur during the week of September 16: Advisory Board retreat to re-energize the existing Career Technical Education (CTE) Advisory Committee; Year of Planning (YOP) Kick-off for Paly’s Engineering Pathway; and, Year of Planning (YOP) Kick-off for Gunn’s Business Pathway.


On September 11, Special Education aides received dyslexia training. Sponsored by the Community Advisory Committee (CAC) for Special Education, REEL (Resilience & Engagement for Every Learner) Palo Alto presented a dyslexia simulation. The focus of the simulation was to help aides understand the struggles of coping with dyslexia. The training was well received, and REEL Palo Alto will provide the same simulation at the Districtwide Professional Learning Day in October.


The Elementary Spectra Art Team participated in their second of eight professional learning sessions, guided by the Art Teacher on Special Assignment. Teachers continued prior work in defining learning targets across schools and differentiating across grade levels.

The VAPA Program Coordinator visited Arts classrooms at Gunn, where students were learning how to shape clay into a bowl; about perspective, as they drew objects found around campus; and with a new script/story, studying how to collaborate, manage, and stage a story within one class period.

The Elementary Music Travel Team participated in all twelve back to school nights by providing each family with a video link overview of Elementary Music programs, student expectations, information about materials and instruments, and specifics for the first student performance in December. You can check out a sample video here.

Equity and Student Affairs


Teachers and administrators participated in a workshop focusing on equity in education. The workshop included topics such as classroom climate and culture, instructional strategies, and the diversity of PAUSD students. District data was reviewed in the morning and the day featured a bus ride to allow educators to experience one of the Voluntary Transfer Program bus routes. All teachers new to the district experience a two-year professional learning sequence. The bus ride is a second year experience.


The SaFE Team has been busy working supporting families. It was a great Back-to-School season. Our team made it to many sites, and encouraged families to attend Back-to School Night and learn about their schools. We had our first training session together to talk about Social Work and connected our team with the department of Wellness and Student Services. Our team is moving right along making connections across departments, finding resources for families, and enjoying spending time at the sites!


In California, MTSS is an integrated, comprehensive framework that focuses on core instruction, differentiated learning, student-centered learning, individualized student needs, and the alignment of systems necessary for all students' academic, behavioral, and social success. In PAUSD, we are committed to aligning our practices so that all students thrive. In her new role as MTSS Coach, Hillary Miller has been working with schools and district departments to gather baseline data around current practices with an initial focus on behavior supports. Three elementary schools and one secondary school have already engaged with our MTSS coach to implement Positive Behavior Supports (PBIS) within their community. These pilot schools’ site teams will work to formalize systems based on their communities’ needs and goals alongside the PAUSD Promise.


Wellness and Support Services is partnering with Asian Americans for Community Involvement (AACI) to bring workshops educating families on preparing for their children's future with a culturally focused parenting workshop series, “Families Connecting Across Generations.” The workshop is designed to help navigate across generational and cultural differences. Topics include parenting skills to promote the bicultural identity of immigrant children, manage stress, enhance parent-child understanding, and effectively utilize rules, reinforcement, and consequences in this country. This workshop series will run every Wednesday, September 18 through November 20, from 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. at Palo Alto High School, Room 301. For more information and to register please contact the facilitator, Yifan Wang, Associate Marriage and Family Therapist (AMFT) 650-329-3999 ext. 6975 or by email at


Enrollment in Parent Project and Loving Solutions is still open. Parents who register this week will be eligible for the completion certificate at the end of the class. Parents can join after the start of the program, however, a completion certificate will not be provided for those who join after this week. Please contact Agent Brad Young at 650-329-2274 or Lissette Moore-Guerra at 650-329-3722 for information. There is a cost for participating in this program and limited financial assistance is available. Light dinner will be served and childcare available on site for toilet trained children ages 3 to 13.

Parent Project Program 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Loving Solutions 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Runs every Thursday starting September 5, and ending November 21, 2019
1700 Building at Palo Alto High School, 50 Embarcadero Road, Palo Alto, CA 94306


This past Tuesday, September 10, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors adopted a proclamation and declared September 2019 as “Attendance Awareness Month” for Santa Clara County. We continue in alignment with this proclamation in improving attendance for all students in our District. The Wellness and Support Services Department and Registration Services will hold a training for attendance clerks next week. The purpose of the training is to unveil the revised Attendance Code Document created as a tool to promote consistent attendance codes usage across the district.


Members of Paly and Gunn’s counseling teams attended the annual University of California Conference on Friday September 13 to learn about system-wide updates, participate in professional development workshops, connect with college representatives and school counseling colleagues.

In addition, Paly’s College and Career Advisors will tour colleges in Kentucky before attending the annual conference for the National Association of College Admission Counseling in Louisville, September 26 - 28. On September 28, Ms. Cernobri will serve on a panel of public school counselors entitled, “High Pressure and High Volume: College Counseling in Large Selective Public High Schools” to share best practices.


Suicide Prevention Month has begun and the high school Wellness Teams are sponsoring a variety of events and promotions to introduce students to different wellness themes to support their overall mental health and well-being. The Gunn Wellness Center will be hosting a Wellness Fair on September 27, with the support of our school and community organizations. In addition the team has started weekly Tuesday Flex Time activities designed to increase student engagement and to promote student coping skills and well-being. Participating students have made a variety of stress relievers as an example of tactile tools they can use in times of high stress or anxiety. Other activities have included expressive art therapy projects, mediation circles, deep breathing exercises, stress ball making, slime making, and silent “disco.” This week Gunn High School Counseling and Support Services for Youth (CASSY) Therapists began a yearlong wellness project of Rock Painting for Suicide Prevention in honor of National Suicide Prevention Week and International Suicide Prevention Day on September 10.

Paly’s Wellness Outreach Worker attended the Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST), a two-day intensive workshop with care-givers from around the county. Paly Wellness has also started outreach to Living Skills classes, holding workshops for students to discuss wellness and stigma and the impacts they have on our community. The team will work with additional student groups on campus to gather the ideas and opinions of students from a variety of backgrounds and experiences.


Over 85 Gunn High School students, staff, and community members had the opportunity to participate in Challenge Day on the Gunn Campus! Challenge Day is a day-long experiential social and emotional learning program for grades 7-12 and offers schools and youth organizations an opportunity to ignite a shift toward greater school connectedness, empathy, and inclusivity (source: The goal of the Challenge Day Program is to build community and to help stop teasing, violence and alienation that are so deeply a part of the school experience for millions of young people every day. Challenge Day is a powerful and transformational day that can change the way people view each other forever. It is a day of fun, friendship, and new possibilities. Thank you to the Palo Alto Kiwanis Club for sponsoring this program.


This week the District Nurses kicked off the mandated vision screenings with 8th graders at JLS Middle School. Students in Young Fives, TK, K, 2nd, 5th, and 8th grade levels will all be screened for vision and hearing. Vision screenings will continue weekly through December and hearing screenings will start in October.

Business Services


Each year, PAUSD tracks electricity, natural gas, and water consumption at all school sites as a part of the Districtwide energy conservation program. The numbers for the most recent school year are in, and PAUSD avoided about $720,000 in utility expenses through conservation efforts. This avoided costs equating to about a 20% utility reduction across the sites and utility types, and indicates a tremendous staff value on energy conservation.


Two weeks ago, we reported the Paly Library construction project had been included in the American Libraries’ 2019 Library Design Showcase and would appear in their September/October 2019 magazine.

Now, we received notice the Paly Library has been selected to appear as an outstanding design in the 2019 American School and University architectural portfolio, the premier showcase celebrating the best in education design. The library will be one of the projects featured in the fall 2019 issue of American School and University. The architectural portfolio will be sent to the magazine’s 57,000+ subscribers.

We really appreciate the Architect Erwin Lee of HED Architecture. If you have not seen the inside of the Paly Library, it is well worth a trip to see it. Below are two pictures of the inside. Great designing effort.

Paly Library 1

Paly Library 2

Technology Services


In an effort to improve communication and support the safety and well-being of our students, our secondary schools use an automated attendance notification system. Starting on Monday, September 16, absence notifications for our secondary schools will be sent daily at 10:30 a.m., 2:00 p.m., and 5:30 p.m. via email, text message, and phone calls. Messages will be sent if a student has one or more period absences in the day that have not yet been cleared in the system.

This system utilizes the contact information families have in Infinite Campus. It is important that we notify families of their student’s absence(s) so that we can work as partners to support their safety and wellbeing. Questions should be directed to the Attendance Clerk at the appropriate school site.