November 20, 2015

Before dispensing a dollop of whipped cream for our high school students at their Turkey feasts, I have each one tell me one thing they are thankful for. This year, the top three are: family and friends; this food; and school. Several also mentioned teachers, the Golden State Warriors, life in general, and one even mentioned Calculus! She got two dollops for that one! It is so refreshing to hear these young men and women exuberantly express their appreciation for the special people that support them.

In a similar vein, last evening at the invitation of some Gunn students, Board President Melissa Baten Caswell and I attended a student forum of about 25 students along with some faculty, staff, community members, and alumni to discuss the Atlantic article and generate ideas for engaging students in meaningful dialogue about mental health and well-being among each other and with the CDC and Stanford teams during the epi-study. Students shared some very personal reflections on several other matters including connecting with their parents, the pressures of college admissions, both the needs and challenges of supporting friends through tough times, depression, and more.

One of my takeaways is that while access to mental health professionals is important, it is just as important to give students space and support for similar conversations on a larger scale and foster meaningful connections among them, among students, and among school personnel. It was clear that connecting with caring, non-judgmental, supportive adults and having a reliable network of friends matters deeply.

I wanted to send a sincere, enthusiastic thank you to our PiE team and to all of you who volunteered during these last two Donor Days. Seeing the energy and support for our schools was uplifting and fun. As we all know, the PiE contributions are of critical importance to our students, and I noticed a couple of the staff at the Gunn Student Forum were supported by PiE funding.

While we do not yet have the final numbers of dollars generated through Donor Days, I am confident the extra effort of the entire PiE team, volunteer staff, students, Board members, and parents paid off in many different ways.

Two major conversations regarding large gifts and grants are percolating, and I am writing to keep you informed and in the loop. The first concerns a potential major donation for Addison. Last spring, an anonymous donor interested in funding significant building and site improvements at Addison approached us through a third party representative, Diane Parnes of Pacific Foundation Service, and subsequently funded a $25,000 planning grant for us to engage our architect, the Addison site council, and the Addison community in conceptual thinking about what improvements were needed and could be made. Diane has since left PFS and the donor is now being represented by Carolyn Wall Sakata. Over the course of the last few weeks the collective vision has coalesced to the point that our architect, Lisa Gelfand has been able to produce a conceptual design. Bob Golton has been our point person throughout these discussions and we expect that before the end of the calendar year, we may have an idea of the design and the level of funding that we will need to bring to the Board for information, for further discussion, and eventually for action, if, in fact, the donor does wish to fund a project in excess of $50,000, as is currently being proposed in AR 3290. We reviewed this AR in BPRC today, and while we still have more work to do in another BPRC session, I know the ommittee and administration are supportive of Board approval and acceptance of gifts over $50,000.

The second potential major grant may (or may not) come from the XQ Super School Project Grant being sponsored by Loreen Powell Jobs. This “Super School Project” is, “an open call to reimagine and design the next American high school. In towns and cities far and wide, teams will unite and take on this important work of our time: Rethinking and building schools that deeply prepare our students for the rigorous challenges of college, jobs, and life.” A local team was assembled with PAUSD parents, Stanford faculty, and d.school representatives to submit a concept plan that was due by November 15. A d.school fellow wrote the proposal in conjunction with the committee, and asked me to comment on the first draft, which I did. The team submitted the plan on November 14. Clearly, if the Board were to approve a Design Task Force (DTF) as the draft recommendations of the Secondary Subcommittee of EMAC shared last week, the DTF could draw upon this preliminary work of this committee… or not. The concept was submitted as a placeholder for potential funding for a new school project and the team will learn if they qualify for moving forward sometime in late December or January. At that point we would need to discuss how to integrate the work of this team with a DTF, or if one is on the path to Board approval. I wanted to be sure both of these potential major gifts and grants were on your radar.

Looking ahead to the week following Thanksgiving, we have several special events. Monday evening, November 30, EMAC is hosting a town hall from 7:00 to 9:00p.m. in the District Office Board Room to share various scenarios they are considering for inclusion in their final report. On the following evening, I am hosting a webinar from 7:30 to 8:30p.m. to recap the events of 2015, look ahead to 2016, and will be responding to questions that are submitted during the event. Board members and I are then off to San Diego to the California School Boards Association Annual Conference at which we are presenting a session on the outstanding work of our Minority Achievement and Talent Development and I will be the lunchtime speaker at the Superintendent’s lunch. This conference is a great opportunity to learn of best practices in other districts, and I know we are all looking forward to sharing the information and ideas we acquire from the sessions and speakers.

Although still eagerly anticipating the El Nino rains, I am happy that the forecast for this weekend looks pretty nice. I hope all of you have some excellent adventures, too, but also make time for relaxing and reflecting during a fine family Thanksgiving. We have such abundant blessings and rewards that come from working with our extraordinary students and staff, faculty and families, and caring, compassionate community, and I am so grateful to serve as your superintendent. Thank you!

Board Calendar 2015-16 Academic Year

Month

Date

Event

November

25-27

Thanksgiving Break

December

3-5

CSBA Annual Conference

 

8

Board Meeting

 

15

Elementary SPSAs

 

16-18

Finals Testing Day

 

18

End of Semester

 

18

District-Wide Minimum Day

 

21-31

Winter Break

January

1

Winter Break

 

4

Return to School, K-8 Only

 

4

Teacher Work Day, High School

 

5

Return to School, 9-12 Only

 

12

Board Meeting

 

18

Martin Luther King’s Birthday

 

26

High School SPSAs

 

26

Board Meeting

February

9

Board Meeting

 

11

Staff Development Day – No School

 

12

Washington’s Birthday

 

15

Lincoln’s Birthday

 

23

Board Meeting

March

8

Board Meeting

 

9

End of Third Quarter

 

11

Local Holiday

 

22

Board Meeting

April

1-8

Spring Break

 

19

Board Meeting

May

10

Board Meeting

 

24

Board Meeting

 

30

Memorial Day

June

1-2

Finals Testing Day

 

2

End of Semester

 

2

District-Wide Minimum Day

 

2

Last Day of School for Students

 

3

Teacher Work Day

 

7

Board Meeting

 

21

Board Meeting

School Events Calendar 2015-16 Academic Year

Month

Date

Event

Location

Time

November

20

Turkey Feast

Paly

11:45-1:00 p.m.

 

20

Gunn Swing Dance

Terman Café

Begins 6:30 p.m.

 

21

Ice Skating Party

Winter Lodge

5:30-7:30 p.m.

 

23

Noon Art

Palo Verde

Begins 12:00 p.m.

 

23-24

Fall Band Concert

Gunn

Begins 7:30 p.m.

December

2

Ice Skating Party

Palo Alto Winter Lodge

6:00-8:00 p.m.

 

5

Annual Pancake Breakfast

Walter Hays

8:00-11:00 a.m.

 

12

PAUSD’s Code Fest 2015

JLS

1:00-5:00 p.m.

Board Reports and Tentative Timeline 2-15-16 Academic Year

December

8

Goal Updates

 

 

OCR

 

 

First Interim

 

 

Enrollment

 

15 AM

SPSAs – Elementary Schools - Daytime

January

12

Audit Report

 

26 AM

SPSAs – High Schools - Daytime

 

26 PM

OCR

February

9

Facility Planning

 

16

Budget

 

23

OCR

 

 

Staffing

 

 

Second Interim

March

8

Goal Updates

 

 

Staffing

 

 

Second Interim

 

22

OCR

 

 

Celebration of Tenured Staff

 

 

3-Year Calendar Preliminary

April

19

OCR

 

 

CCSS Budget

May

10

LCAP

 

 

K-12 Health Curriculum

 

 

Special Education Program Review Report

 

 

Mathematics Piloting for 2016-17

 

24

OCR

 

 

LCAP

 

 

Budget

June

7

Budget

 

 

Deferred Maintenance

 

21

Goal Updates

 

 

OCR

  LCAP
  3-Year Calendar Preliminary
  Budget
  Deferred Maintenance