Welcome back to the 2013-2014 school year!
STRATEGIC PLAN: The School Board held its Annual Retreat in June, where we discussed last year's accomplishments, areas for improvement, and progress towards our goals. We also celebrated the district's new Strategic Plan, which will guide our work for the next five years. You can find the 2013 Strategic Plan HERE. With students at the center, we focus on five areas: Academic Excellence and Learning (A), Personal Development and Support (B), Innovative Staff Development and Recruitment (C), Optimized Budget and Infrastructure (D), and Transparent Governance and Communications (E). The plan was developed over four months with input from nearly sixty one-on-one interviews, ten focus groups and more than 4,000 survey responses from parents, high school students, teachers, administrators, and classified staff. This input allowed us to build the strongest plan possible to move us forward as an organization.
FOCUSED GOALS FOR 2013-2014: At our first School Board meeting, we discussed the district's focused goals for the coming year. These include:
-Implement Common Core State Standards with increased consistency in curriculum, grading, and homework (A)
-Raise achievement of underperforming students by equity of preparation, access, and support (A)
-Ensure safe and positive school environments, with a particular focus on addressing incidents of bullying (B)
-Foster a culture of relevant and effective professional growth among all staff (C)
-Enhance long-term facilities planning process and adequate distribution of non-facilities resources such as class size, counseling, and special needs (D)
-Invest strategically in technology infrastructure, promoting efficiency and effectiveness of staff (D)
-Engender trust with the community through communication, including improvement of PAUSD website (E)
Although these are the focused annual goals, we will continue to discuss ongoing issues such as the calendar, the shared use of Cubberley, counseling, and the future of summer school.
NEWS FROM THE ASSESSOR'S OFFICE: In the 2013-2014 County Assessor's Annual Report, Palo Alto grew 7.65% in the Net Assessment Roll (including secured and unsecured rolls). This economic recovery is being heralded after four years of declining values, although many properties throughout the county still remain below purchase price. The estimated property tax growth for 2013-2014 is 6.56%, a $5.2 million increase over the 2% growth estimate in our adopted budget. As a reminder, 78% of our PAUSD budget comes from property taxes.
CONSTRUCTION UPDATE: Take a drive around our district to see the amazing results of our ongoing construction efforts. The Strong Schools Bond is continuing to support "facilities equal to the promise of our students," as our Superintendent often remarks. I attended the Grand Opening of the new Titan Gym at Gunn, toured the impressive new Gunn classroom building, saw the progress on Paly's new media arts center and classroom building, and visited the new buildings at JLS, Jordan, and Terman middle schools. In elementary news, Fairmeadow's new two-story classroom is complete and Duveneck's new wing is under construction, to be ready for fall of 2014. Coordinating massive construction projects at seven different schools over the summer was a Herculean task. Kudos to Dr. Robert Golton and his team of experts for pulling it off!
I've added an events page and a blog to my website at: www.heidiemberling.com. Check it out and send me your comments and ideas. If you have a big school event to share with the community, feel free to send the info. to me. And, as always, if you know any parents or community members who would like to read more about the PAUSD School Board, please forward this newsletter or direct them to my WEBSITE to sign up.
Have a wonderful year!