School Board Members gathered with the Measure A - Parcel Tax Campaign Committee to launch the effort to renew our current parcel tax for the next six years, with a $120 increase and continued two percent escalation, senior exemptions, and an independent oversight committee with annual audits. The parcel tax represents about 7% of our budget, an estimated $12.4 million in 2014-15, and is a local source of funding for schools that cannot be taken away by the state. The proposed increase of $2.3 million in revenue will allow the district to preserve core programs, keep class sizes small, support school libraries, and address new priorities including: equitable opportunities for all, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) initiatives, and health and wellness supports for students at all grade levels. Make a donation, volunteer, and endorse Measure A on the website: www.SupportPaloAltoSchools.org. Thank you for your continued support of our excellent schools!
NEW MIDDLE SCHOOL COURSES: One of my favorite jobs is to approve new courses at our secondary schools. Teacher teams presented proposals for new middle school courses at JLS: Design and Technology Studio, Creature Creations, and Writing for Multimedia. "Design and Technology Studio" is described as a bridge between the creative "makers spaces" in elementary school and "robotics" at the high school. In "Creature Creations," students will design imaginary creatures while learning art skills, writing strategies, puppetry, mime, mask work, and film. "Writing for Multimedia" will help middle school students become both critical consumers and producers of multimedia content. It's an exciting time to be in middle school at PAUSD. Also, the Board voted to expand the Mandarin Immersion (MI) program to Middle School, as our MI students at Ohlone are now graduating 5th grade. The new MI program will be offered at Jordan, where Spanish Immersion is already offered. Students will then be eligible to continue their language studies in high school.
ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT ADVISORY COMMITTEE: Dr. McGee received approval from the Board to create an Enrollment Management Advisory Committee with the charge of: "Preparing multiple, strategic, evidence-based, actionable recommendations that will enable the district to design, develop, and implement short and long-term plans for accommodating projected PAUSD enrollment consistent with PAUSD educational standards and the thirteen Community Values and seven Planning Standards of BP7110." This committee will both inform and inspire the joint city/district planning for Cubberley, as well as other properties in which there are mutual interests. Committee applications are due Monday, March 2nd: http://pausd.org/community/Committees/enrollment_mgmt_adv/index.shtml.
SECOND INTERIM FINANCIAL REPORT 2014-15: Although you may have heard that Governor Jerry Brown is allocating an additional $4 billion to the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) this year, Palo Alto Unified receives none of this funding from the state. We are funded primarily through property taxes--now estimated at 6.36% growth over 2013-14. This is an increase in $4.4 million over the 3% growth budgeted in June. Next month, the Board will discuss potential program enhancements for the coming year. Keep in mind, though, that we still need to settle our employee compensation for the current year. And despite an increase in per-pupil funding over the past six years of about 10%, we have still not kept up with inflation, which has increased about 13% over the same amount of time. Compared to our benchmark districts that spend more than $20,000 per pupil, we spend about $14,000 per pupil and expect similar results. The pressures we face today are: growing enrollment, increased pension costs (which will automatically consume 1.5% of any property tax growth over the next five years), the potential loss of ROP (Career Tech) funding, and a permanent reduction in the Cubberley lease renewal.
SOCIAL MEDIA BOARD POLICY: Led by a team of district personnel, the Board heard a proposal to craft a new policy and administrative regulation on social media. Discussions were held with PAUSD staff, parents, and community members, and sample policies were considered from across the state. Legal review has occurred and a multi-pronged approach to implementation has been crafted. While we are certainly not the first district to consider a social media presence, we are very concerned and aware of the complexities of protecting the privacy of our students. The Board commended Communications Coordinator Tabitha Kappeler-Hurley and her team for their comprehensive work putting together this policy and regulation. The Board asked that some clarification questions be answered before moving forward with implementation.