September 21, 2018

Superintendent’s Office


The Board will consider moving forward with the hiring process for a dedicated on-site General Counsel. The agenda item was revised to clarify the reporting structure and priority goals. As discussed at a previous meeting, the proposed General Counsel will report to the Board of Education. The posted agenda outlines the scope of services.     


We have an Open Session agenda item to discuss the California Voting Rights Act complaint officially received through certified mail on August 14, 2018. William Tunick, from Dannis Woliver Kelley, will present the information. Their presentation is available on our posted agenda.


The Board will hear a brief presentation about the Cubberley Master Plan and an upcoming planning meeting.


I have met with both high school ASB and SEC groups and participated in multiple school interviews at the middle and high school levels. Our students are impressive! I have noticed some themes during the meetings that may be of interest. My plan is to share some of their insights in each update.

Students have expressed concern about the achievement gap between student groups. In my experience, it is not typical for students to have such an awareness of a perceived inequity.  Two of our three priority goals directly speak to the goal of closing the gap through powerful teaching with an equity lens. These goals will receive our full attention. 


Ms. Karen Hendricks has reviewed all timelines regarding negotiations with both California School Employees Association (CSEA) and Palo Alto Educators Association (PAEA) to confirm compliance with our agreements. This is a “successor agreement” year in PAUSD. This means that the entire contract is open for negotiations. Absent a successor agreement, the current contract is in full effect.

We are working with our associations to determine exactly how we will communicate the progress of negotiations after each session. There are several acceptable and compliant ways to communicate aspects of negotiations with the community and stakeholders within the rules that govern this area. Together, we will determine a path that works for Palo Alto.


A test of software designed to recognize duplicate emails and streamline redacting efforts was recently piloted with a sample project. The results were encouraging and may reduce the demand to review documents by over 30%. We are going to expand the pilot and measure results. It is our desire to significantly reduce the logjam of outstanding requests through efficient systems. 

Secondary Education


The California Choir Directors Association hosts an All-State Choir conference each year. School choirs from elementary through college, community, and professional choirs from all over the state audition to perform. A total of twelve choirs are chosen and JLS was selected to be one of the performers this year. The concert is at 10:00 a.m. on March 15, 2019 at the Cathedral Basilica in San Jose. 


Palo Alto Unified School District applied for and received Title IV: Student Support and Academic Achievement funds for the 2018-19 school year. The allocation awarded was $14,387, and the funds will focus on parent engagement activities through a partnership between the Instructional Technology and Academic Supports Departments. These two departments hosted their first-ever event, a technology night for Voluntary Transfer Program (VTP) and English Learner (EL) families, on September 11. Over 35 families attended the event to learn how to effectively utilize Infinite Campus and Schoology to navigate their students’ school community. Families also learned about the district iConnect and 1-to-1 Chromebook programs.


A team of District staff compiled data tables, charts, and graphs for the annual Enrollment and Class Size Report. More efficiency in recording information has resulted in the merging of some tables. We hope you’ll enjoy reviewing the enrollment data for the 2018-19 school year.


For the third year in a row, the Department of Secondary Education is organizing a conference-style professional learning day for PAUSD secondary staff on October 5. Jennifer Abrams, an international educational and communications consultant and former Gunn teacher, will be delivering the keynote address, “Getting Two Feet into the Present – A Reminder to Be Our Best Selves.” Afterwards, staff will be able to choose from among a variety of sessions touching upon the District’s overarching goals – High Quality Teaching and Learning, Equity and Access, and Wellness and Safety. The Learning Summit will culminate with time for departments and teams to collaborate across sites.

Elementary Education


This coming Monday, September 24, the Elementary Teacher On Special Assignment (TOSA) team and Research Evaluation and Assessment (REA) will be hosting the NWEA - MAP "Teacher Training Teachers" Professional Learning Day. The goal for this day is to train 2nd - 5th grade teachers in the best ways to use the Mathematics MAP data to differentiate the needs of 2nd - 5th grade students. This includes small group instruction and connecting Khan Academy. In the afternoon, the teachers will break into grade-level groups to plan math extensions in the next Bridges unit(s) for students needing to delve deeper into the concepts. The teachers will share what they learn Monday with their staff during an upcoming staff meeting. 


Applications are now being accepted for The City of Palo Alto Utilities Grant. The City of Palo Alto Utilities generously donates $50,000 each year to PAUSD to further student learning in the areas of water and/or energy efficiency, and renewable energy. The online grant application allows a teacher, staff member, grade level, department and/or site to apply to use a portion of these funds. The goal is to fund projects, activities, speakers, presentations, clubs, field trips, tools, professional development, curriculum, and other activities and resources related to water and energy efficiency or conservation, or renewable energy. In years past, grant money has been used for solar cars, Squishy Circuits, Marine Science Institute field trips, energy/water conservation-related books, solar oven kits, low-flow faucets, and Green Microcycle Bikes. 


Paly Fiery Fall Glass Sale is this Friday, September 21, from 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. and Saturday, September 22, from 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. at Palo Alto High School. All pieces are hand blown by instructors, alumni, and students. Proceeds benefit the Fiery Arts Program at Paly.

Strategic Initiatives and Operations


The Special Education Program Specialist Team is proud to share the Autism Awareness training that was conducted at Hoover Elementary on September 5, in conjunction with the back-to-school staff meeting. The 30-minute training was developed to encourage collaboration among teachers, educational specialists, and related service providers in implementing calibrated strategies to address the unique needs of students with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Brooke Crosby, Special Education Program Specialist, facilitated the training. The training covered basic information about autism, as well as strategies on how to facilitate independence across academic and functional skill areas. Jim Sherman, Principal at Hoover Elementary, shared that the presentation was well-received and the participants found the presentation very informative. 


The Wellness Centers at Paly and Gunn are holding events to support student connection, self-awareness, and help-seeking behaviors. Mental Health Resource Fairs feature resources on campus and in the community to showcase safe spaces for students to seek help around social-emotional needs. Paly had over 200 students visit the table at their fair on Tuesday, September 19. Gunn will host their Health Resource Fair next Thursday, September 27, during lunch. 


Wellness and Support Services staff attended the Santa Clara County’s Office of Education (SCCOE) TUPE Training on Tuesday, September 18, as a part of PAUSD’s Tier 1 participation in the program. The TUPE Program is a statewide initiative focused on reducing youth tobacco and nicotine use by helping young people make healthy decisions through research-validated educational instructions and activities, as well as empower the next generation of tobacco-free advocates. Training topics included: TUPE Program Orientation and Resources; TUPE Data and Survey Updates; Teaching with the Stanford Tobacco Use Prevention Toolkit; Updates on Vapes and Marijuana; Alternatives to Suspension; Youth Cessation Programs; and TUPE Youth Leadership and Engagement. 


Wellness and Support Services organized a second round of Counselor Professional Development, sponsoring another 15 counselors to attend the California State University (CSU) Counselor Conference at CSU Monterey Bay on Wednesday, September 19. School counselors, college and career counselors, Pupil Personnel Services Interns and administrators from Gunn, Paly and the Wellness and Support Services Department attended. PAUSD staff joined participants from districts and high schools across the state to learn the most recent application guidelines, admissions processes, and advising practices. CSU faculty highlighted the diversity of programs, students, faculty and the system’s equity outcomes as reflected in the financial support distributed, and rates of degree/program completion.   

Sessions included:

  • Cal State Apply Update
  • CSU Campus Highlights 
  • CALIFORNIACOLLEGES.EDU: The Academic Planner and Articulation with Cal State Apply
  • Researching Your Future: Undergraduate Research and Opportunities Center
  • Access for All Students
  • Academic Preparation Policy: Maximizing Student Success
  • CSU 101: Introduction to the CSU
  • Supporting Students Through the Educational Opportunity Program: Services for Low-Income and Educationally Disadvantaged Students
  • Student Life
  • Navigating CSU Impaction, Local Admission Area and Redirection 
  • International Student Application Process 


The LGBTQQ Council will resume monthly meetings for the year starting Monday, September 24, in the Aspen Room at the District Office. The LGBTQQ Council is an open group focused on the development of an inclusive and representative approach to teaching and learning that promotes success in school. The Council is committed to assist with trainings that are in the best interest of students and staff, and serve as resources for individuals, groups, and organizations that have questions or want information about LGBTQQ issues. Members serve as resources for site-based school clubs such as Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) and Queer-Straight Alliance (QSA), and advocate for the health and social-emotional well-being of LGBTQQ staff, educators, families, and students. They also work to ensure that language, practices, and facilities are inclusive of the diversity of our school population, including non-binary gender identifications. All who are interested are welcome to attend and participate. 

Upcoming LGBTQQ Council meeting dates:

  • September 24, 2018 – 4:00 p.m.
  • October 29, 2018 – 4:00 p.m.
  • November 26, 2018 – 4:00 p.m.
  • January 28, 2019 – 4:00 p.m.
  • February 25, 2019 – 4:00 p.m.
  • March 25, 2019 – 4:00 p.m.
  • April 29, 2019 – 4:00 p.m.


District nurses will be performing vision screenings for students in TK, K, 2nd, 5th, and 8th grade levels. Mandated vision screenings have been completed for 8th graders at JLS and Greene Middle School. One to two schools will be completed per week. Mandated hearing screenings will start in October for students in TK, K, 2nd, 5th, and 8th grade levels.


The Health Services Team will hold their annual Diabetes Training at the Science Resource Center (between JLS and Hoover Elementary) on October 3, from 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. The training will include how to recognize and respond to low-blood glucose emergencies and daily diabetes management during disasters, where students have to stay onsite for longer than a regular school day. Participating staff can expect to spend approximately 20-35 minutes, depending on what training they wish to receive. 


PAUSD Equity Coordinator has confirmed that the District will be offering the second segment of the Family Leadership Conference (FLC). Last school year, the event was created in partnership with Palo Alto Housing and attracted over 200 participants. The goal of this very important outreach effort is to provide parents with a dynamic professional learning opportunity where they are offered resources and shown specific skills and strategies to support their children academically, socially, and emotionally.

The conference provides diverse breakout sessions in multiple languages, such as English, Mandarin, and Spanish. The next conference date is scheduled for Saturday, December 1. The planning phases are underway. For more information about the event, please contact PAUSD Equity Coordinator, Keith B. Wheeler. Once the planning process is complete, all event promotional materials will be posted on the PAUSD website and available through your respective school’s main office.   

Business Services


The Master Plan process for Cubberley started this summer. Concordia, LLC has been collaborating with District and City staff on the project, and all are seeking community input. Next week, the first community meeting (in a series of four) will take place. It will be held on Thursday, September 27, from 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. at the Cubberley campus. The consultant makes extensive use of social media, and over 200 individuals have already signed up to attend. Additional community members are welcome. Just log in for the Cubberley Co-Design Meeting 1 at and fill in your information.


The 2018-19 Budget is being presented to the Board for approval. We recently received information from the County of Santa Clara that our property taxes will be lower than originally expected. The new projection is that property tax revenue will increase 6.42%, a 0.46% decrease from the original 6.88% projection. This decrease results in a reduction of $793,000 from our original increase. Property taxes in 2018-19 are now projected at $181,685,000, compared to $170,727,568 for 2017-18.


We have changed the format of purchase order reporting in an effort to be more transparent and in compliance with Board Policy. Warrants will be presented once per month, in the same manner as in the past. Purchase Orders will be presented at each board meeting. The “Purchase Order Report” is generated for ALL purchase orders. We will also be presenting a “Purchase Orders and Requisitions List” that includes all items over $90,200 that require Board approval. The first section includes items requesting board approval. The second section includes items previously approved by the Board. In addition, we have instituted internal controls to ensure that all warrants and purchase orders are approved by the Board on a timely basis. 


Student Nutrition Services is holding its first “PAUSD Home Grown Produce” Tasting of the 2018-19 school year.

Our first tasting will be held at Hoover Elementary School during lunch this Friday, September 21. We will be featuring freshly harvested lemon cucumbers and cantaloupe grown by PAUSD students at the Science Resource Center garden.
Student Nutrition Services, in collaboration with The Living Classroom, has been conducting fresh produce tastings since last year at the elementary-level schools.
Our next opportunity to utilize the freshly grown produce will be in the next two weeks, as our leeks are almost ready for harvesting. We will be utilizing the leeks in the Asian Stir Fry Bowls, featured on the weekly menu at all secondary school sites.

Human Resources


Human Resources (HR) is researching the option of having in-house Livescan capability for pre-employment background checks. Currently, the service of rolling fingerprints is outsourced to a local vendor that charges per person. The District is then billed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) for FBI and DOJ reporting service. The purchase of Livescan equipment would entail an initial cost for the fingerprinting system, and a certification fee for HR staff members in charge of fingerprinting. This is being considered in order to determine the most efficient, consistent, and cost-effective process moving forward.


As the work initiated last year by the RISE Task Force continues, Anea Bogue, from REALyou Empowerment Programs, met with parents and community members on September 20. Topics covered included: tools to support a culture of consent; the reinforcement of the right to bodily autonomy; engagement in self-reflection; and the effort to becoming an “askable adult”—an adult to whom a child may safely turn for advice and guidance.


Policies and corresponding regulations relating to sexual misconduct were revised as per the Resolution Agreement with OCR. The following policies and regulations were revised and adopted by the Board on September 12, 2017:
•    BP 5145.7 Sexual Harassment
•    BP 5145.3 Nondiscrimination/Harassment
•    AR 5145.3 Nondiscrimination/Harassment
•    BP 1312.3 Uniform Complaint Procedures
•    AR 1312.3 Uniform Complaint Procedures

These policies are now available in Spanish and Mandarin. You can access the policies by clicking on the corresponding translation icons found on the links above. 

The three policies and the two accompanying regulations in English, Spanish, and Mandarin have been placed in binders and are available for inspection at the following District Office locations: Reception, Registration Services Office, Title IX Office, and Policy and Legal Compliance Office. 

Elementary, middle, and high school principals will also have these policies and regulations available in English, Spanish and Mandarin.  

Technology Department


Concerns about the potential health effects resulting from the use of WiFi was first raised by two parents in our community in March 2016. Staff has been engaged in conversations with our community about this topic since this time, and has now concluded a testing process with our local expert, Mr. Peter Sullivan. The full report is now available online. 


A clerical error was identified and corrected related to the School-Sponsored Trips Board Policy. The policy was officially adopted on January 12, 2010 as number 6153, however when the document was migrated to the new website it was incorrectly entered as 6513. The policy number has been updated appropriately on the website, no other changes have been made to the content or URL of the policy.