November 17, 2017

We support all PAUSD students as they prepare themselves to thrive as global citizens in a rapidly changing world. We develop our students’ knowledge, critical thinking, and problem solving skills, and nurture their curiosity, creativity, and resilience, empowering every child to reach his or her fullest intellectual, social, and creative potential.

Hello to Our PAUSD Community,

It’s been an extremely busy and energized week at our sites, departments, and District Office.  As I provide you with some glimpses into those activities below, I’d also like to extend my very warmest wishes to you all as you head into the Thanksgiving Break Week.  I hope that the upcoming days are filled with the people and activities that bring you joy. 

“Gratitude is the memory of the heart.” ~ Massieu

Important Information

From our November 14 Board meeting:

  • Judy Argumedo, Director of Academic Supports – Educational Services presented information regarding the District’s Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) Timeline and Process.  The presentation may be viewed on the Board of Education page.  Important background information on this item to be emphasize is “One of the intents of this legislation was to encourage greater conversation between school districts and the communities they serve.  In the case of PAUSD, many of the recommended steps were similar to the work the district has been doing as part of its Strategic Plan process.  These steps include annual surveys to measure student, staff, and parent / guardian sentiments and response to community input.  To the extent possible, the LCAP and district goals have been woven together.”
  • The next important upcoming LCAP Event will take place on Thursday, December 14, from 5 - 6:30 p.m. in the Staff Development Center at the District Office, where the LCAP Advisory Group will be sharing a “data deep dive” with student and community members.  If you’d like to know more about our LCAP Process, you may wish to visit their page.
  • Clarisse Haxton, Janine Penny and Christopher Kolar from our Research, Assessment and Evaluation Department also presented information on Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) Local Indicators.  That presentation may also be viewed on the Board of Education page

Here is a recap provided by Mr. Kolar of the importance of this Local Indicators, and the opportunities provided for self-reflection and collaboration in this process:  The recent Board meeting saw the sharing of a considerable amount of data related the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) and the newly-released local indicators. The new California School Dashboard (the Dashboard) has replaced the California’s old Academic Performance Index (API) measure of school performance with a school- and district-level Dashboard showing important metrics for all schools and students which also aligns with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) accountability requirements. The Dashboard is available online - data is currently from Spring 2017 report and will be updated for Fall 2017 during the first week of December. This new reporting tool allows the District and community to view multiple, common measures of performance, implementation, and progress and create shared goals to guide continuous improvement to address areas of need in the district. The Local Indicator data shared at the November 14 Board meeting is live on the CA Dashboard's Equity Report. Within the district, the LCAP process is being used across departments to produce coordinated, coherent action plans and outcomes that will enable us to better plan and meet district goals and state accountability measures. We will send an additional announcement when the Fall data update has been released.

  • Superintendent Search Process: The Board reviewed proposals from four executive search firms for the recruitment of a permanent Superintended, to start on July 1, 2018.  It was determined that all four firms (Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates; Leadership Associates; McPherson & Jacobson;  Ray & Associates) would be invited to come present their proposals and respond to questions at a Special Board Meeting, scheduled for November 28, 2017.
  • The Board authorized staff to enter into energy services contracts with REC Solar for solar projects in order to “reduce the consumption of our demand for nonrenewable energy”  at six District facilities: Palo Alto High School, JLS Middle School, Terman Middle School, Nixon Elementary School, Escondido Elementary School, and Ohlone Elementary School.
  • The Board also provided input for a draft PAUSD Comment Letter on the Santa Clara County Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Stanford General Use Permit (GUP). At the next Board meeting, the Board will be asked to approve the comments. This item was previously discussed at a special Board meeting on November 7, 2017.

District Complaint Process

District Complaint Procedures and Process can be accessed through our website, or by calling the District Office. 

Title IX and UCP Complaints may be directed to:

Megan Farrell

Title IX / Civil Rights Coordinator

Palo Alto Unified School District

25 Churchill Avenue

Palo Alto, CA 94306

(650) 833-4262

It is our commitment to receive and respond to inquiries and complaints promptly; please be aware that the District does not maintain any external email accounts for receiving complaints.

PAUSD participates in the California Healthy Kids Survey (CHKS) every two years going back to 2002. This year students in grades 5, 7, 9, and 11 are completing the survey at school, but parents play a part too! Please check your email for an invitation to participate in the 2017 CHKS Parent Survey. Your link allows you the chance to help PAUSD have a deeper understanding of ALL of the students that we serve. If you cannot find the email please contact Johanna Gonzalez in Student Wellness and Services at:

Our Renaming Schools Advisory Committee and Superintendents’ RISE Task Force met this week, and will be posting updates onto respective sections of the following page:

Great Things Are Happening in PAUSD!

Just a few highlights for you:

Addison Elementary staff is reporting that many of their classes have been partnering at different grade levels to share their learning and work in both Readers and Writers Workshop. Please see photos from Ms. Maxwell’s (4th) and Ms. Ganschow’s (3rd) classes, whose students have been working together to share reading and writing strategies with each other.

Student's Work

Student's Work

El Carmelo Elementary’s English Learner Specialist, Shirley Jou, shared at a recent ELAC Meeting, ways in which parents can support their children’s English Language acquisition while maintaining their home language. Languages represented at this meeting include Mandarin, Korean, Hebrew, and Farsi.

Fairmeadow Elementary kindergarten team worked in close collaboration with PAUSD landscaping to bring their science unit, Trees, alive last week.  The teachers and landscape experts worked together to plan an appropriate area to plant, to bring the trees early for the students to observe and sketch in their journals, to dig the holes and secure a safe zone for students with protective tape. PAUSD landscaping provided the school with three real trees to plant with the kindergarteners. The kids loved seeing the root ball, hearing the things a tree needs to grow and live, and actually each using a shovel to help plant their tree.   They helped create a memory for our students for years/decades to come, as they see their class tree grow from year to year at Fairmeadow.

In addition, Karen Lenke’s Spectra Art class completed a printmaking project at Fairmeadow Elementary.  Here’s an example shown by one of their proud third grade students:

Student's Art Piece

Palo Verde Elementary held its 2nd annual School Geo Bee Championship, moderated by 4th grade teacher, Ms. Kim, and prizes awarded by principal, Ms. Miller. Congrats to their 2017-2018 School Champion who will advance to state qualifiers of the National Geo Bee!

Jordan Middle School is reporting great successes in their music program. Eight Jordan Choirs students were accepted to participate in the ACDA (American Choral Directors Association) Western Region Honor Choir in March in Pasadena, CA (and eight auditioned!). These students were selected from a competitive audition process across California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, and Hawaii. Also, five Jordan Choirs students were accepted to participate in the California All-State Junior High Honor Choir in February in San Jose, CA! Students auditioned and were chosen from all over the state and will represent their school programs in a performance as part of the CASMEC Conference for California music educators in February in San Jose. Students were also selected from a rigorous audition process. Congratulations to Monica Covitt, Choir teacher, and these talented students!

Palo Alto High School

Grant Blackburn’s Government classes have been engaging in a Mock Trial Project in class. They have wrapped up the Defense and Prosecution cases; jury deliberations commenced today. Students prepared last week by working on witness statements, preparing questions and anticipating responses, practicing opening and close remarks, and fine-tuning their grasp on the rules of evidence. Even though they are not a competitive Mock Trial team, the students in Mr. Blackburn’s classes have risen to a high standard that would impress many.

We’re thrilled to let you know also that one of our students earned the National Speech & Debate Association’s Academic All American Award, recognizing academic rigor, competitive speech and debate success, and personal excellence.  From more than 141,000 student members of the National Speech & Debate Association, fewer than 500 students earn this prestigious award.

Paly and Gunn will be hosting an event focused on how parents, educators, and students can work together at home and in our schools to prevent the epidemics of bullying and suicide. Research has shown we can do this by creating a preventative culture in our community—one that fosters an epidemic of Hope, Help, and Strength. The evening will provide an overview of the Sources of Strength program and give attendants an opportunity to learn more about a few specific aspects of the Sources of Strength wheel. Dr. Shashank Joshi (Stanford Associate Professor of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry) will be in attendance, as well as students and staff leaders helping to spread messages of hope, help, and strength to their peers. Key to the success of the Sources of Strength program is developing awareness and a shared vocabulary at home and in our community so that families can support the work we are doing in our schools. Please register for the event online.


With my gratitude and appreciation to you!



Karen Hendricks