Heidi's PAUSD School Board Newsletter - May 2015

We did it!  Measure A, an extension and increase of Palo Alto's parcel tax, passed overwhelmingly with 77% of the vote.  Thanks to all of you for your support of our excellent public schools.  And a special thank you to those who got involved by phone banking, putting a lawn sign in your front yard, or donating to the campaign.  I am particularly grateful for the efforts of the Measure A campaign team, led by the fabulous Nana Chancellor and Sara Woodham.  I look forward to the district and Board budget conversations about implementation of Measure A funding.

MAY EVENTS: May is always an exciting month, filled with community events, end-of-year performances, and the anticipation of summer.  I marched in the May Fete Parade, bid at the Adolescent Counseling Services' wonderful Spring Sounds event, thanked Leadership Circle donors for supporting Partners in Education (PiE), participated in two Project Safety Net meetings outlining a Collective Impact approach to our community work, honored community volunteers at the PTA Honorary Service Awards breakfast, and spent all day engaged in substantive conversations with dedicated community members who attended the "Our Palo Alto 2030" Summit at Mitchell Park.   

MINORITY ACHIEVEMENT AND TALENT DEVELOPMENT ADVISORY COMMITTEE: Thank you to the twenty-five community members, teachers, parents, and students who worked diligently for six months this year to carefully examine the root causes and consequences of the disparities that exist among our under-resourced students and students of color.  There is a significant access, opportunity, and achievement gap (reflected in substantial gaps in standardized testing) between our White and Asian students and our Black, Latino, and Pacific Islander students.  The advisory committee presented its research, along with strategic, evidence-based recommendations to ensure that all our students have the necessary opportunities, conditions, and supports to succeed.  The important work of this committee will inform the district's focused goals and budget priorities for the coming year.  To read this informative, comprehensive report, click HERE and download the "Final Report for the Board of Education."    

CREATIVE BELL SCHEDULE AT GUNN HIGH SCHOOL: In early March, a Gunn community advisory group of teachers, students, administrators, and parents was convened to look at a new creative bell schedule to optimize student learning and well-being.  The committee presented its final report to the board this month, a culmination of hundreds of hours of research into best practices, conducting site visits, analyzing survey data, and designing a new schedule that will reduce homework loads, allow counselors to deliver social-emotional curriculum and post-secondary planning, increase time for students to meet with teachers, dedicate teacher collaboration time, and increase the length of class-periods to support project-based learning, authentic assessment, and instruction aligned with the new California State Standards.  To read more about the new Gunn schedule, go to the Gunn Creative Bell Schedule website HERE or download the May 12th Board Packet HERE

PALY ATHLETIC CENTER UPDATE: On May 26th, the Board received an update about the new Palo Alto High School Athletic Center project.  In 2012-13, the Peery Foundation offered the district a very generous contribution of $24 million to substantially fund the creation of two new gyms.  For the past two years, members of the Peery family, the lease-leaseback contractor Vance Brown, architects, and PAUSD staff have worked closely to craft a mutually-agreeable and approved set of plans for this state-of-the-art project.  With this donation, the district can spend less (about $17 million) for double the amount of square footage, an enhanced aquatic center, and one of the finest indoor athletic facilities in the state.  This is a gift not only to PAUSD, but also to the greater Palo Alto community that will enjoy the facilities as well.  For more information on next steps to be approved at our Board meeting on June 9th, click HERE and download the May 26th Board Packet.  

COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENTS: The district has concluded negotiations on the Collective Bargaining Agreement for the 2014-15 school year with the Palo Alto Educators Association (PAEA - Certificated Staff) and California School Employees Association (CSEA - Classified Staff). The Board is set to approve these agreements at our June 9th meeting.  Both agreements provide for a 4.5% increase to the salary schedule and a .5% one-time payment.  The PAEA agreement also initiates a two-year pilot program for District-collected student input into teacher evaluations at the high school level and requires teachers to use the district's online learning management system, Schoology, to electronically post the course syllabus, instructional materials, homework, and test and project due dates.  

JUNE: I will be out of town for the June 9th Board Meeting; my first missed meeting since I was elected in November, 2012.  I will be watching it on the MidPeninsula Media Center website when I return.  For those of you who might be interested in a certain topic or meeting, you can find all the archived recorded PAUSD School Board meetings HERE.  (You can also watch the meetings live HERE or on local Channel 28.) The School Board meets through the end of June, including our two day Retreat on June 16th-17th. 

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