The month of May always seems like the busiest month of the school year, doesn't it? I'm looking forward to attending both Paly and Jordan's graduations this week and my kids are certainly looking forward to the end of finals. The PAUSD School Board continues meeting through the month of June, including our Annual School Board Retreat on Mon. June 13th (9am-4pm-Open Session) and Tues. June 14th (9am-2pm-Closed Session for Superintendent Annual Review) at the Sheraton at 625 El Camino Real. We will review our annual data and set focused goals for the coming 2016-17 school year.
CAMPAIGN UPDATE: Before I get to the monthly School Board news, I want to thank those of you who have sent such kind e-mails of endorsement and those who have already made a donation to my re-election campaign! If you don't see your name on my endorsements page yet, please reply to this email and I'll add you right away. Also, please consider making a donation (of any amount) on my website as well. The first financial reporting deadline is the end of June, so please take a quick moment and donate online today. If you'd like to host a coffee, I would love to meet your friends and neighbors to discuss my top priorities and hear more about your thoughts and concerns. These are terrific opportunities to learn more about the School Board and share your ideas for improving our outstanding district. Let me know if you'd like to host (or co-host) a coffee, and we can get it on the calendar. Campaigns are expensive and I can't do it without your support. Click HERE to learn more about my issues/priorities. Thank you!
RATIFICATION OF COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENTS WITH PAEA (PALO ALTO EDUCATORS ASSOCIATION) AND CSEA (CALIFORNIA SERVICE EMPLOYEES ASSOCIATION): The School Board took a historic vote this month to approve a 3-year contract for our teachers and classified staff. This is an improvement for teachers, because usually negotiations conclude in May and are retroactive to the current school year. Since rent and mortgages are not paid retroactively, a one-year contract that concludes at the end of the school year is not helpful for prudent financial planning. With a 3-year contract, teachers and staff know exactly what they will be earning for the next two years (since the first year is still retroactive for 2015-16). The final contract provides for a 5% salary increase and an additional 1% "off" the salary schedule for the 2015-16 school year; a 4% increase for the 2016-17 school year with an additional 1% "off" the salary schedule; and a 3% increase for the 2017-18 school year. If property tax comes in either 1.5% above or below our current projections, PAEA or the Board may re-open negotiations. The School Board voted 4-1 in favor of this contract, and spoke about the need to recruit and retain the best teachers for our students. With a national teacher shortage looming, we have to maintain our status as a "destination district" for excellent teachers, staff, and administrators. The Board Member who voted against the contract spoke about the need to reduce class sizes and direct resources to other programs, suggesting that a smaller increase for teachers would offset these additional needs.
FULL-DAY KINDERGARTEN: In order to eliminate the persistent achievement and opportunity gap that exists in our school district, the Minority Achievement and Talent Development (MATD) Advisory Committee Report outlined 11 recommendations to implement across our district. One of these was to provide a full-day of kindergarten for all students. The Superintendent convened a kinder teacher Think Tank, which met between Feb. and May to discuss this recommendation. The Superintendent assured teachers and the larger community that a full day with our credentialed teachers would not mean more academic workload, but rather more time for all students to play, develop strong social and emotional skills (self-regulation, attentiveness, self-confidence, and interpersonal skills), and nurture a disposition and love of learning. Teachers from two of our twelve elementary schools who already have a full-day kinder program shared their experiences of more time to spread out the curriculum, more time for creative exploration, and more time to focus their attention on struggling students. Many other kinder teachers spoke out against this proposal, however, citing fears of a push-down of academics and a loss of the treasured small group time that currently exists for each student twice a week. (half the class stays later on M/T and half the class stays later on Th/F) The community response was also mixed. Some parents advocated for a child's need to go home and rest, eat, and do enrichment outside of school, while others advocated for children to spend more time with a caring, credentialed teacher in the classroom, rather than mixed-quality aftercare options. The School Board eventually voted 4-1 to invest $428,000 towards full day kindergarten across the district, including a guarantee of 10 hours of instructional aide time per week and the addition of music and physical education for kinders.
ADDITIONAL RESOURCE ALLOCATIONS: Property taxes came in higher than expected at 11.25% this year. In addition to the salary increases for teachers discussed earlier, the Board was asked to weigh in on additional resource allocations. This month, the Board voted unanimously to spend $1,825,000 towards class size reduction in our middle and high schools, $150,000 for expert instructional math intervention specialists at the high schools, $164,000 for two high school Wellness Outreach Workers (WOWs), $100,000 to provide breakfast to our five Title I schools, $300,000 for additional reading specialists at our elementary schools, $111,059 towards additional staffing in various departments at the district office to accommodate growth in our schools and increased requirements from new regulations, and $100,000 to support high school athletic programs. Of course, there are always more programs we would like to fund. Included in consideration for next year is: expanding SLC (Gunn) and TEAM (Paly), our 9th grade transition programs; enhancing summer school; providing after school tutoring programs in our middle schools; supporting the newly created High School Learning Design Team; providing funding for the special education program review, which is nearly completed; and continuing to reduce class sizes in our secondary schools.
Thank you for reading these monthly updates, which have been part of my concerted effort to increase transparency around School Board deliberations, important issues affecting our district, and difficult budget decisions. This is my 92nd blog post since I was elected to be your School Board representative in 2012! (Read all past blogs HERE.) I hope you enjoy them and I hope you choose to support me for re-election in November.