March 2013 Newsletter

School districts are busy places with hundreds of decisions being made every day in classrooms, at school sites, and around the district office.  As one important issue engages the school board's time and attention, other issues wait to be addressed.  Add on the demands of a job and family, and this becomes quite a balancing act!  Superintendent Skelly recently told me the school board job can become a "jealous lover," and I see his point. 

LIAISON SCHOOL UPDATES: Luckily, there are great perks to the job.  I recently visited three of my liaison schools, Addison, Young Fives/Preschool Family, and Terman, and had great conversations with three of our dedicated, caring, and thoughtful Principals.  At Terman, I observed an AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) class, where kids who need extra academic support work on study skills and class assignments directly with Stanford student mentors.  At Addison, I learned about the school's commitment to building students' Developmental Assets, including a six-session PTA-sponsored parent education series from Project Cornerstone.  And at Young Fives, I saw some amazing inclusion classes, Springboard to Kindergarten classrooms, and learned more about the partnership between Preschool Family and our Adult School. 

OCR REPORT/BULLYING: In the Summer of 2011, a complaint was filed against our district with the Office For Civil Rights.  After conducting an investigation, the OCR found in April 2012 that the district did not respond appropriately and effectively to peer harassment of a student based on disability.  The district agreed to voluntarily resolve the issues through an evaluation of the student's Individualized Education Program (IEP), administrative training across the district on disability-based harassment, issuing a notice to all parents that the District does not tolerate discrimination, and by updating our complaint procedures.  The resolution agreement was signed in December 2012 and the Superintendent did not report the results to the board in a timely manner.  The board expressed its disappointment and reiterated that any formal agreement with an outside agency needs to come before the board as an agenda item.  Next steps include implementation of the resolution agreement, development of a comprehensive bullying policy and easy-to-navigate procedures for reporting incidents of harassment or bullying behaviors.

LOCAL CONTROL FUNDING FORMULA (LCFF): The Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) recently recommended the Governor reject the "hold harmless" provision of the new funding formula, which would result in the loss of nearly all state aid received by community-funded (basic aid) school districts such as PAUSD.  Rather than elevate all California school districts to the funding level of community-funded districts, this would decrease funding to these school districts across the state, increasing reliance on outside funding sources such as education foundations, parcel taxes, and property taxes.  Next Thursday, Mar. 21, I will go to Sacramento for the Schools For Sound Finance (SF2) Conference to advocate for high-quality education for all.    

STAFF DEVELOPMENT DAY: Remember President's Day weekend and the extra day off?    That Friday, our staff was immersed in a variety of professional development experiences throughout the district, including a Science Teachers' workshop at NASA, a focus on Common Core Mathematics Standards in middle school, and a Technology Day for Nixon and Barron Park.  See all the agendas for the day contained within the Feb. 15th Weekly Communication (p. 6-24)

MARCH MADNESS: This month is packed with big items for the board to consider.  We'll be hearing reports from several community advisory committees that have been hard at work this year on very important topics: the future of Cubberley Community Center (Thurs., Mar. 14th, 7pm at Cubberley Theater--joint presentation with City Council), improvements to guidance models at Gunn (Mar. 19th School Board Meeting), and the possible location of a 13th elementary school.  

Join us at a board meeting!  You are welcome to e-mail me with your comments: hemberling@pausd.org.

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published this page in Blog 2013-03-30 15:45:16 -0700
Emberling for Education
Heidi Emberling,
Palo Alto School Board