June 2013 Newsletter

The last few weeks of school seemed to fly by.  Highlights included accepting the graduating class of 2013 at Gunn High School and the eighth grade promotion class at Terman Middle School on behalf of the Board of Education. What a great experience to shake hands with all those eager students ready for their next challenge.  I also participated in the JLS eighth grade exit interviews, which were very impressive, and dropped by Camp Iris Way, a neighborhood tradition with high school and middle school counselors, elementary and preschool campers, and dedicated parents who create a full week of kid magic. 

SCHOOL BOARD RETREAT: The Board Retreat is coming up this week.  This is an opportunity for the Board to set goals for the year, guided by our newly revised Strategic Plan.  If you'd like to contribute your ideas, e-mail me or drop by during open session: 

Tuesday, 6/18 Open Session Discussion of Focused Goals: 9:30am-3:30pm, University Club, 3277 Miranda Ave.
Wednesday, 6/19 Closed Session Discussion - Superintendent Evaluation: 9am-4pm, University Club
Thursday, June 20th Open Session Discussion of Focused Goals: 8am-2:30pm, Garden Court, 520 Cowper St.

ENROLLMENT GROWTH: The Board decided to postpone its decision about a 13th elementary school until Spring, 2014.  Enrollment numbers at this point are not as high as our projections and our kinder numbers are down (although this could be an unintended consequence of moving the kindergarten cutoff date from Dec. 1st to Sept. 1st).  We also agreed to have a deeper discussion in the fall about choice programs and neighborhood schools, in the context of district growth.  Also, the Board authorized Dr. Skelly to begin talks with City Manager Jim Keene about renewing the Cubberley lease.

CALENDAR: The Board held a study session about the Calendar process.  We are currently discussing Board values for future calendar planning and looking forward to the analysis of the calendar survey results.  At first glance, pre-break finals seem to be extremely popular, with many also wanting a later August start date and a June end date.  I look forward to hearing the Calendar Advisory Committee's suggestions on balancing instruction and downtime throughout the year as we strive to meet students' educational needs in the most effective way possible.

SAFE AND WELCOMING SCHOOLS: The District has been working closely with the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) to improve delivery of services around bullying prevention and student social-emotional health.  The District's 504 policy was recently approved by the OCR and posted on the district website, administrators and staff throughout the district participated in bullying prevention trainings this Spring, school handbooks are being revised with the most updated information available, and the district is awaiting final approval of a comprehensive bullying prevention policy that will guide our work.  Also, Gunn High School has developed an action plan for strengthening its guidance delivery model, working towards incorporating the comprehensive recommendations of the Gunn Guidance Advisory Committee.

DISPROPORTIONALITY UPDATE: In 2009-2010, PAUSD received designation as being "significantly disproportionate" in the Special Education identification of African-American and Hispanic students.  The district created a multi-year plan to address these concerns and this year, the district has moved out of that designation.  This important work includes progress in these key areas: instructional practice and support for all students, collaborative processes within the professional learning community, and creating a culture and climate of high expectations for all students.  The district remains vigilant as these initiatives are embedded into everyday practice to benefit every student.

SUMMER SCHOOL FEES: In April, 2013, the California State Superintendent's Office issued an Advisory to all school districts reflecting recent legislation about limited permissible fees charged for educational services.  Although the school district does not charge any fees for credit recovery summer school classes, PAUSD did charge for enrichment opportunities.  A letter was sent to all currently-enrolled summer school families offering a full refund for these enrichment classes.  In the coming year, the District will revisit whether to continue to provide enrichment during the summer.

CHILD DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM: As an early childhood educator, I am constantly looking for ways to strengthen foundational learning opportunities for students.  After speaking with several key leaders across our district, I am thrilled that our high schools are interested in developing a child development course for students, including a lab component incorporating preschool children at our Greendell site, to support hands-on learning about human development.  The Early Childhood Education Workgroup includes Principal Sharon Keplinger (Young Fives), Assistant Principals Kim Diorio (Paly) and Trinity Klein (Gunn), and Dave Hoshiwara (Career/Tech Coordinator), with enthusiastic support from Dr. Skelly.  This idea will be explored in the coming year for implementation in the fall of 2014.                   

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