August 18, 2017

This week was a full continuum of emotion, from the heights of exuberance and exhilaration of our first day of school for new students, families and principals, to the depths of sadness following the passing of one of our high school students.  The common connections, however, were the abundance of care and compassion every one of our teachers and leaders has for our students and the powerful community support for our schools.  Across the district, teachers and principals greeted students at the door, comforted those who were timid or anxious, and enthusiastically welcomed new families and embraced current ones.  Likewise, our PTAs welcomed families and faculty alike, our external mental health and police partners worked closely with our impacted schools, and countless parents volunteered to help our sixth graders learn the ways of middle school.  Arguably, one of the most challenging jobs was assisting these young middle school students find their lockers and master locking them.  Please follow me on Twitter @suptmaxmcgee to see some photos of this activity as well as some of the celebratory events.

On a more somber note, a few parents have inquired about how to talk to their children about depression and related mental health matters, as well as managing the grief following a student’s death.  We will be hosting two parent nights with KARA next Thursday, August 24, and the following Thursday, August 31, at Cubberley, and have compiled resources and tips into a one-pager that is attached.  Both sessions begin at 7:00 p.m.  Also, attached below are several documents for parents, teachers, and other caring adults to assist us in talking with our children and students.

OPPORTUNITIES TO JOIN THE PAUSD FAMILY

Within the past week, two District Office employees resigned and we are now hiring both a District Communication Coordinator and a manager for our Welcome Center (a.k.a. Central Attendance).  These positions are posted.  We have many talented individuals here in PAUSD, so if you or someone you know would like to apply, please complete an application form.

ECLIPSE

As much as I would have liked to have a district field trip to Oregon on Monday, school is in session and classes will be held all day.  However, in consultation with our nurse and external professionals, each school has made some special arrangements for students to experience this rare event.  In fact, I still remember making a pinhole box to view a partial eclipse when I was in middle school.  While technology has advanced significantly and there are now ways for us to view it with special glasses and filters, this old school method was a 100% safe because we actually viewed a projection of it.  You can view the instructions here.

Regarding the viewing with protective eyewear, attached is the safety alert and guidelines from our district’s Insurance and Risk Management Company.  Some of our schools purchased viewing glasses in bulk and took great care to assure they were from designated ISO 12312-2 compliant manufacturers and CE certified as recommended by NASA and the American Astronomical Society.  Generally, the elementary schools are following these viewing procedures:

  • There will not be outdoor recess at the usual 10:00 a.m. time and there will not be outdoor PE during the period of the eclipse.  Outdoor play will occur only before or after the time period of the eclipse.
  • Teachers will take students out to view the eclipse, and students will wear the protective glasses while looking at the sun.  Viewing will be for fairly short lengths of time based on the age/attention spans of the children. 

AUGUST 22 BOARD MEETING

Next week is our first official Board meeting of the new school year.  We will begin with reports from our new high school student representatives and from me.  In addition to summarizing events of the opening week, I will be sharing results, conclusions, and next steps from two important surveys.  The first regards the Health Connected sexual health education program, a program mandated by state statute.  Parents, students, and teachers completed surveys, and we have used these to determine some next steps for how to improve the teaching and learning of the program and how to make all the materials far more accessible to parents than last year so they can choose to have their students participate or opt out to learn from other resources.  The second concerns questions related to sexual harassment and misconduct that the Office for Civil Rights required us to include in our parent and students (high school) strategic plan survey and our teacher engagement survey.  Following a summary of the results and findings, I will share several steps we are currently taking including staff and student training, online reporting of any incidents (including a means for reporting anonymously), employment of a Compliance Officer, updating of key policies, and more.

The Board agenda will include a presentation regarding a proposal for installing solar panels and an authorization to go to bid for their purchase and installation.

We will also be reviewing key policies that OCR required us to revise for clarity, alignment with federal and state statutes, and our own internal policies.  These are:  BP/AR 1312.3 Uniform Complaint Procedures, BP/AR 5145.3 Nondiscrimination/Harassment, and BP 5145.7 Sexual Harassment.  OCR has reviewed and approved the language of the BPs and ARs, so we are seeking formal Board approval at the meetings.  Once approved, we will be issuing a Guidance Memo throughout the district – staff, parents, and taxpayers – and having additional follow-up training with our leaders shortly thereafter.

Additionally, we are approving new contracts for legal services, authorizing release of a Request for Proposal (RFP) for renovation of the JLS swimming pool, and reviewing and prioritizing a long list of Board Policy changes based on information from the California School Boards Association as well as other internal and external sources.

The remainder of the meeting will be devoted to a discussion of Board Operations. At that time we will be reviewing our governance and communication protocols and discussing ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of Board meetings and interactive communication with stakeholders. 

UPCOMING EVENTS

The calendar is crowded with a host of back to school nights, principals’ coffees, and PTA and Site Council meetings.  In addition to the plethora of site-based meetings, Parent Advocates for Student Success, the organization supporting our historically underrepresented population, will be hosting an ice cream social at Walter Hays on Sunday, September 10, and the Community Advisory Committee for Special Education will be holding its annual Family Fun Day the following Sunday, September 17, at Mitchell Park.  Both events begin at 3:00 p.m. and I will be attending and hope to meet others of you who are participating.  I will also be hosting on open online webinar one evening during the week of September 18 to answer questions and address concerns from the community.  More information will be forthcoming.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.  Having raced the Tri Santa Cruz triathlon last weekend, I am ready to sit back and relax a bit this weekend as the next race is not for a month.  On second thought, we haven’t seen our grandchildren for a few weeks, so I imagine they will probably have something other than relaxation planned. 

As always, feedback on these notes is always welcome, as are ideas for future ones. You can provide feedback through the button below, email mmcgee@pausd.org or Twitter @suptmaxmcgee. 

ATTACHMENTS

Caring Presence Event – Supporting Children in Grief
Kara Guidelines Providing Comfort
Suicide Warning Signs & Emergency Response
Talking to Your Kids About Suicide
When a Child's Friend Dies By Suicide
Solar Eclipse Safety