March is traditionally a busy month of change for school districts around the state. March 15th is the deadline for teacher release notices, which can be rescinded if budget cuts are avoided in May. Although Palo Alto hasn't had to issue any release notices this year, it has still been a month of change, predominantly in our leadership positions. In addition to the resignations of our Superintendent and our Chief Technology Officer (Ann Dunkin, tapped for the Obama Administration), resignations or retirement notices have been received from Principals at: Fairmeadow Elementary, Addison Elementary, Ohlone Elementary, Gunn High School, the Palo Alto Adult School, and an Asst. Principal at Jordan Middle School. Job descriptions are posted on the PAUSD website, HERE.
SUPERINTENDENT SEARCH: The Board hired Leadership Associates to do a national search for our next Superintendent. Community forums were held at the end of March and the executive search team met with active parent and teacher groups individually as well. A job description is being developed and the advertising has already been placed in national education journals. A brochure is being created right now based on community feedback, and we should be able to start the interview process by the end of the month. The Superintendent will be given a July 1st start date. If you are interested in filling out the Superintendent Search Survey, you can find it on the PAUSD home page. While you're there, please take a moment to fill out the PAUSD Website Redesign survey as well. This is your chance to provide feedback about how to make the district website more useable and navigable to meet your needs.
ENROLLMENT GROWTH: The move to a later kindergarten start (children must be 5 years old by Sep. 1st) has suppressed kinder enrollment for the past few years. These smaller cohorts will now move through the educational system, delaying our need to open a 13th elementary school at this time. The Transitional Kindergarten process will be completed this coming fall (2014-2015), which means will may see growing kinder enrollment the following year, 2015-2016. Therefore, the Board deferred the decision to open a 13th elementary school until next Spring.
CUBBERLEY: Both the City Council and the School Board had open forum discussions on the Cubberley Community Center. The School Board discussed shared community interests for the development of Cubberley, including a continuation of joint-use facilities at Cubberley and other school sites for affordable recreational, cultural, early education, and other community services in all neighborhoods. The school district honored the hard work of the Cubberley Community Advisory Committee (CCAC) and is ready to develop flexible options to address current and future use of the Cubberley site, ensuring that revenue from the 1987 Utility User's Tax (UUT), promoted as a way to continue the educational excellence of our schools, continues. The School Board directed the Superintendent to explore these and other common interests with the City Manager.
COMMITTEE WORK: I joined two new Committees this month. I am rotating onto the Board Policy Review Committee (BPRC) and I will serve as the Board Liaison to the City of Palo Alto's Housing Element Committee. In the BPRC Committee, I participated in my first discussion about our developing bullying policy. The district is working to ensure that families, teachers, and administrators are well aware of the policies around bullying, and provide clear guidance as to the procedures for addressing bullying incidents. The BPRC meets again after Spring Break, and will hopefully be very close to finalizing this and several other policies that are under review. To see the most up-to-date materials on bullying prevention, visit the PAUSD website, Bullying Prevention page. The Housing Element Committee is a community panel to create one part of the larger Comprehensive Plan for the City of Palo Alto. The Association of Bay Area Governments requires cities to show how much available property they have for potential housing developments. We will be meeting through the fall to identify these potential sites. Any increased housing will have an impact on our schools.
BLOG: Remember to take a look at my blog for other activities I'm participating in around the district. This month I attended the "Youth Speaks Out" event at the Palo Alto Art Center, the Paly Gym Farewell, a tour of the new Paly Media Arts Center (MAC) building, and Read Across America day. See photos and blog: HERE. Also, if you find these newsletter interesting and informative, please pass them along and encourage other folks to subscribe at: www.heidiemberling.com. (If you would like to unsubscribe, that's fine too! Please use the link below.)