Heidi's PAUSD School Board Newsletter - June 2015

School may have ended for students in the first days of June, but your School Board was hard at work all month with two evening Board meetings, a two-day facilitated School Board retreat, the annual Superintendent evaluation, and an additional morning Board meeting to discuss a wide variety of policy updates.

2015 PARCEL TAX EXPENDITURE PLAN: The May 2015 ballot measure (approved by 77.3% of voters!) states that proceeds from the parcel tax will be used to, "preserve excellence in core academic programs, including science, engineering, math, reading, writing, arts and music; reduce class sizes; attract and retain qualified teachers; and advance health, well-being, and equitable opportunities for every student."  In 2015-2016, revenues are estimated to be $14.7 million, a $2.3 million increase over last year.  This represents about 7% of the total revenues for the district.  Superintendent McGee divided the new expenditures into three areas: health and wellness, equitable opportunities, and curricular innovations.  This includes a new licensed mental health support therapist at each high school, expanded nursing services at the middle and elementary schools, additional counseling and mental health services for students and families, funding for the equity recommendations of the Minority Achievement and Talent Development Advisory Committee, including an expansion of summer school, and the addition of a computer science curriculum at our middle schools.  To see the details of the expenditure plan, download the Board packet from the June 23rd meeting HERE.

2015-2016 BUDGET: The Board approved the 2015-2016 Budget presented by Chief Business Officer, Cathy Mak.  Governor Brown's May Revision to the California State Budget included $6.1 billion to the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) and $3.5 billion in one-time funding for implementation of Common Core State Standards (CCSS).  PAUSD does not receive any funding through LCFF, because we are a community-funded district that relies predominantly on property taxes (70% of our budget) to fund our schools.  However, PAUSD is eligible for $7.2 million of one-time funding, which we are reserving for textbook adoptions and one-time projects.  Also, during the 2014-2015 school year, property tax grew 7.47% over last year.  Looking forward, district staff is using the City of Palo Alto estimates of 5.24% for planning for the 2015-2016 school year.  In terms of district expenditures, 82%, continue to be utilized for employee salary and benefits.  The remaining 18% are for contracted services, supplies and materials, capital outlay, and other expenses.  We are also reserving funds for potential new schools, assuming ongoing operating costs for a new elementary school at $1.5 million and operating costs for a new middle school at $4.5 million.  The Enrollment Growth Management Advisory Committee will complete their work in the fall and the Board will then make a decision on managing expected enrollment growth throughout the district.      

DISTRICT OFFICE REORGANIZATION: Superintendent Dr. Max McGee presented the Board with three new staff positions and a reclassification of seven others as part of a reorganization plan for the District office.  Dr. McGee reflected on his first year here at PAUSD and identified several ways to improve the effectiveness, responsiveness, and efficiency of District operations.  The new positions include a Chief Student Services Officer to oversee all efforts around special education, student health and wellness, compliance issues, and central attendance.  He recommended, and the Board approved, Dr. Holly Wade, for this position.  He also recommended adding a General Counsel, who could advise the district on a wide variety of legal questions and act as an ombudsman for informal, but potentially serious, complaints.  This would not prohibit the District from seeking specific outside legal expertise, but could decrease our overall legal expenses for every issue that requires legal guidance or advice.  And the final new position is the addition of a second District Nurse, particularly focused on the elementary level.  With health concerns (particularly around allergies) increasing, the District needs to increase its responsiveness and support for students and families.  We will also welcome a new Deputy Superintendent to the District staff this summer, as Dr. Charles Young has left to become a Superintendent in another school district.  For more information on the District reorganization approved by the Board, click HERE and download the June 23rd packet.   

BOARD RETREAT: The Board met on June 16-17 to discuss the roles, responsibilities, and relationships of being a successful Board Member, and to discuss potential goals for the 2015-2016 school year.  The retreat was facilitated by Bill Attea, of Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates Executive Search Firm.  The Board discussed effective and efficient governance, the different roles of the Superintendent (management of the District) and Board (governance and vision for the District), setting direction, developing policies and protocols, and communication processes.  We discussed perceived roadblocks to becoming an effective Board and discussed ways to improve Board function.  Superintendent McGee presented his goals update from the 2014-2015 goals and the Board discussed potential goals for the coming 2015-2016 year.  In general, we discussed a wide variety of topics including: managing enrollment growth, achievement and equity for all students, transparency and communications, student social and emotional learning and health, effective use of data, differentiating instruction, consistency and alignment in coursework, and innovative curriculum options such as foreign language in elementary schools.  The goals will be finalized when we return in August.    

SCHOOL LIAISONS: The Board approved the 2015-2016 Board Member Assignments to Schools and Parent Groups.  Check out the full list HERE.  I am looking forward to getting to know my liaison schools better in the coming year: Barron Park, Hoover, JLS, and the PTA Council.  If you are a family at any of these schools or programs, please reach out and let me know about any exciting school events--preferably a week or so in advance, so I can coordinate it with my work schedule.     

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