September 6, 2019

Office of the Superintendent


I was recently asked why we have so few Action items on our agendas. Over the last two meetings (August 27 and our upcoming September 10 meeting), we have posted 27 Action items. Routine items go directly to our Consent agenda, which are Action items.  Items that appear one meeting under Discussion almost always appear on the Consent agenda the next meeting due to our two-meeting rule.  As a result of this policy/practice, it is increasingly rare to have an item go from Discussion to Action. Prior to my arrival, Discussion and Action items were comingled and clumped together. Separating them for clarity makes the mechanics of the two-meeting rule more visible than in the past.  To clarify, we are conducting a large number of actions during meetings.

Our tentative Board Calendar Items is found on our website and under Information on each posted Board agenda. The tentative calendar should not be confused with the final posted agenda. It is our effort to provide advance notice to all interested parties.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

  • Sufficiency of Materials Resolution (Consent)
  • Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council (Report)
  • Leadership Institute (Report)
  • PAUSD Assessment Practices Model (Report)
  • Progress of Cubberley Lease Between PAUSD and City of Palo Alto (Report)
  • Two-meeting Rule (Discussion)
  • 2018-19 Unaudited Actuals and Budget Update for 2019-20 (Discussion)
  • Title IX Resolution Agreement Survey Results (Information)

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

  • A-G (Report)
  • Progress of Cubberley Lease Between PAUSD and City of Palo Alto (Report)
  • Elementary Principal Professional Learning Community – Barron Park and Escondido Update (Report)
  • Parcel Tax Renewal (Discussion)
  • Unaudited Actual (Action)
  • Two-meeting Rule (Action)
  • Enrollment & Class Size Report (Information) 
  • Physical Fitness Test (Information)


I have met with our City Manager to discuss a path for PAUSD and the City to extend our lease agreement for Cubberley. We have identified our interests and created a pre-negotiations principles draft document. It is attached to our agenda item for September 10. We also scheduled a negotiations day on September 17 between staff members.  We expect to cover the following points:

  • Duration of a lease extension
  • Cubberley development work plan
  • Entitlements for potential staff housing project at 525 San Antonio
  • Potential use of lease proceeds for future facilities projects at Cubberley
  • Financial terms for City to lease PAUSD buildings prior to development
  • Phasing and sequencing of projects
  • Formation of an ad hoc committee for future discussions

The Cubberley lease is also on the agenda for our September 19 City/School Liaison Committee meeting at City Hall.

Education Services


During the upcoming September 10 Regular Board Meeting, Education Services Assistant Superintendents, in partnership with Research Evaluation and Assessment (REA) Department, will share PAUSD’s assessment framework. The report is intended to provide an overview of a balanced assessment system and PAUSD’s progress in creating and implementing assessments that support improved student outcomes.


Over the next few weeks, middle school teachers from Fletcher, Greene, and JLS Middle Schools will come together at the District Office to continue developing Districtwide common writing assessments (CWAs) for grades 6, 7, and 8. Last May, teachers participated in a release day, by grade level, to determine a genre, construct a prompt, choose source materials, and design a common rubric for the assessment. The same teacher teams have a second release day scheduled during September to complete this work. The administration of the CWAs is planned for winter of this school year.


Middle school science pilots of Amplify Science are underway at all three middle schools. Sample materials are on display for the current Amplify Science pilot and the upcoming Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) pilot of California HMH Science Dimensions. At Greene and Fletcher, the sample materials are available for review and comment in the front office. At JLS, the materials are in the library. An additional set is on display in the District Office outside of room 11. Community members and students are welcome to make comments on paper forms or via email to the committee facilitator, Tamara Wallace. More information on the pilot phase can be found on our website.


Math information nights for parents of 6th grade students are scheduled at each of the three middle schools. The purpose of these sessions is to explore 6th grade math and learn about how 6th grade math flows to 7th grade math and beyond. The math information nights for JLS MS were held this week, on September 4 and 5, while Greene MS is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept 11, and Fletcher MS will hold their math information night on September 25.  


The Special Education Department attended a Parent Teacher Association (PTA) Council and Community Advisory Committee (CAC) event on September 3. The purpose of the event was to welcome new administrators and program specialists. Parent PTA representatives were present from most of the schools. Assistant Superintendents of Education Services (Elementary and Secondary), and Equity and Student Affairs were also in attendance. It was a great opportunity, in a relaxed setting, for administrators and program specialists to meet parents, and for parents to spend time with Special Education staff who provide support at their school sites. Parents also gave a wonderful farewell presentation to Alma Ellis, the outgoing Director for Elementary programs. The PTA Council and CAC members explained their roles and responsibilities and announced upcoming events, which the department will help advertise at school sites. The department will be collaborating with both groups in an effort to ensure that parent concerns are addressed in a timely manner. Overall, this was a great event that promoted collaborative work between parents and the District.         


On Wednesday, September 4, the Elementary Teachers on Special Assignment (TOSAs) led 26 K-2 teachers in an afterschool workshop, focused on the Units of Study in Phonics, from Columbia University’s Teachers College Reading and Writing Project (TCRWP). The workshop provided an overview of materials and components, showed a phonics lesson in action, provided organizational tips, and provided time for questions and answers. The workshop was a huge success and participants asked for a follow-up session, which will be held on October 11, Staff Development Day.

Department of Equity and Student Affairs


The first meeting of Parent Project “Adolescence” and “Loving Solutions” started Thursday, September 5. This is an 11-week parenting skills program that provides practical tools to help parents find solutions in addressing challenging adolescent behaviors and strengthening family unity. Former participants report appreciating the curriculum and discussions, and belonging to a cohort of other parents. The program is taught by instructors from the Palo Alto Police Department (PAPD) and PAUSD. 

Enrollment in Parent Project is still open. For more information, please contact Agent Brad Young at 650-329-2274, or Lissette Moore-Guerra at 650-329-3722. There is a cost for participating in this program, but financial aid is available. 

  • What: Parent Project Program
  • When: Every Thursday starting September 5, and ending November 21 
  • Time: 6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m., a light dinner will be served
  • Where: 1700 Building at Palo Alto High School, 50 Embarcadero Road, Palo Alto, CA 94306

Childcare available on site for toilet trained children ages 3 to 13. 


September is Attendance Awareness Month. PAUSD is joining districts and communities participating nationwide to highlight attending school every day makes a difference for our students. Regular school attendance is the key protective measure to ensure our students are connected to school and on-track to learn and succeed. Everyone can make a difference by building awareness that going to school every day and preventing absences whenever possible is critical to ensuring that all students can realize their hopes for academic and social emotional success and opportunity.


September is also suicide prevention awareness month. The Wellness Centers at both high schools will be hosting various events and campaigns to highlight the importance of coping skills, help-seeking behaviors, and peer support. Mental Health Resource Fairs will also be held featuring resources on campus and in the community to showcase safe spaces for students to seek help around social-emotional needs. Wellness & Support Services will also be promoting self-care, suicide prevention trainings, and community resources. 


Registrations are now being accepted for the Family Talk: What’s Happening To Me? Workshop scheduled on October 2 from 6:30 p.m.- 8:00 p.m. in the District Office. Hosted by Health Connected in partnership with Wellness & Support Services, this workshop is designed to facilitate and promote healthy communication within families about the sometimes sensitive or difficult topics for families to discuss. All types of family members including parents, grandparents, co-parenting individuals, and trusted adults are invited to participate in the event with their 5th and 6th graders to discuss the physical changes that many youth experience during puberty. To register for the workshop, please visit the Family Talk: What's Happening To Me? Eventbrite

For questions about either of these events, please contact PAUSD Health Services


College Representative visits started last week. Over 170 colleges have already been scheduled to visit our high school campuses to meet with interested students. Visits with college representatives (reps) are a great way for students to get questions answered and to establish relationships with regional admissions officers (or staff of higher status!) who are often responsible for reviewing and advocating for our students' applications. Some colleges track students "demonstrated interest," so attending a visit with a college rep could be beneficial. Of course, it is not always feasible for students to miss class to meet with college reps. If students cannot meet with the reps of colleges they are especially interested in, they are encouraged to email the reps.

Students are encouraged to visit their College and Career Centers or contact their counselors or college and career advisors.


Senior Parent Nights at both high schools are underway. Parents are encouraged to contact their student’s School Counseling Department.

Topics include: 

  • Post High School Options 
  • College Application Process 
  • How an Applicant is Evaluated 
  • Teacher Advisor Letter vs. Teacher Letter 
  • Early Decision vs. Early Action
  • Selecting Colleges 
  • CSU/UC Application
  • Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) & Scholarships

Business Services


District staff will be presenting the financial information for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2019, at the September 10, 2019, Regular Board Meeting. Revenues of $266,869,659 for the year were closely aligned with annual expenditures of $267,116,150, resulting in a decrease to the ending fund balance of $246,491, or 0.09%. 

Based on recent information from the County Assessor’s Office, property tax revenues for the 2019-20 fiscal year are estimated to increase by approximately $2.3 million. The District is in the process of finalizing staffing allocations and enrollment data for the current school year. Staffing and benefits comprise nearly 85% of the District’s total expenditures and the impacts of adjustments to these allocations will be incorporated into the budget at First Interim in December.


The first week of the food services switch to reusable lunchware at the elementary school sites was a success! Students enjoy the new containers, and quickly learned the process for returning them to be washed and reused. The volume of landfill material generated by the lunch program has decreased significantly, too. PAUSD is excited about the message this switch to reusables sends to the student community about how to grow up to be thoughtful stewards of natural resources. Big shout out to site leadership and support staff for all the hard work that went into this successful first week with the reusables program!


This summer, six new portable classrooms and a lavatory building were installed on the playing field in preparation for the upcoming campus-wide Hoover modernization, funded by Measure A. While the Division of the State Architect is reviewing the modernization plans, preparations for the Hoover improvements are already underway. Prior to the City’s repaving of E. Charleston, all of the new underground utilities were installed in the roadway, and a new campus gas main was installed in the east exit driveway. The playing field irrigation system was revised and new grass was planted prior to the start of 2019-20 school year. Campus data infrastructure is being relocated out of the upper wing, in advance of structural retrofit to that building beginning in 2020. The photo below shows the new portables.

Hoover Elem Project

Technology Department


There are amazing things happening every day in our schools. We do our best to find and showcase them as often as we can.  We could use some assistance with this, so we welcome you to "Share Your Joy" with us via Let’s Talk!

Stories, photos, and events submitted to us will be shared with our followers, our teachers and staff, our students, and the community.

We look forward to seeing your submissions!