As we approach the end of the first semester, there are wonderful opportunities to see our students shine in a wide variety of musical and theatrical performances and shows. (Find out more detailed information on the individual calendars on the school websites.) Also, check out one of the many student publications from Paly and Gunn and read in-depth stories about current issues in our community, as well as student perspectives, interests, and passions. Here are a few to check out online. Gunn--Oracle: http://gunnoracle.com/, Paly--Campanile: http://www.palycampanile.org/, C Magazine: http://issuu.com/c_magazine, Verde Magazine: http://verdemagazine.com/, Viking Sports: http://www.vikingsportsmag.com/.
BUDGET STUDY SESSION: The School Board met for a budget study session this month on November 3rd. We heard from the Superintendent and staff about the unallocated property tax revenue of $7.4 million and some of the potential uses, including: employee compensation, recommendations of the Minority Achievement and Talent Development Advisory Committee, possible new school(s) to manage enrollment, expansion of full-day kindergarten, expansion of the Advanced Authentic Research program in our high schools, K-5 mathematics program exploration, pilot, and adoption, improved counseling programs, possible elementary world language program, improved and expanded Living Skills and computer science curriculum, and recommendations from the current Special Education program review. Obviously, the district and School Board (and community) have a lot of ideas and a limited amount of funding. The district and Board will continue to prioritize program additions, elicit community feedback, and develop a revised proposal for our February budget study session. To read the report, click HERE, (download the packet for November 3rd).
ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT ADVISORY COMMITTEE (EMAC): On November 10th, the School Board continued our discussions with both the elementary and secondary sub-committees of EMAC, to guide our thinking around short-term and long-term enrollment needs in our district. The final reports are currently slated for Board discussion and action in December and may be continued into January as needed. The elementary sub-committee is looking at the following problem statements: developing a plan to keep overflowed students within their cluster, determine where to send students from the new Stanford housing, manage the impact of choice programs, and downsize schools with large enrollments. The secondary sub-committee is looking at the following problem statements: size of our middle and high schools, desirability of choice programs in secondary schools, the impact of a new secondary school, the possibility of creating smaller "schools within a school" in our current secondary schools, and improving retention of our elementary students through middle and high school. There are very creative, thoughtful, well-researched ideas contained in these reports. You can read them HERE, (download the packet for November 10th).
ANNUAL PARCEL TAX AND STRONG SCHOOLS BOND REPORT AND AUDIT: On November 10th, the School Board received the 2014-15 Parcel Tax Fiscal Report, the final expenditure report for the 2010 Parcel Tax Measure. In 2014-15, the parcel tax was $638 per parcel. The net amount was $12,313,099, which is approximately seven percent of total revenues for the year. This parcel tax was designated for five areas of expenditure: maintain excellence in core programs, reduce the impact of budget cuts, minimize teach layoffs and class size increases, continue teacher professional development, and protect high school electives. The review by the Parcel Tax Oversight Committee and the audit by our external auditor found no exceptions to the report (the highest result). Also, the Strong Schools Bond of 2008, a $378 million general obligation bond, was reviewed and audited and the district is in full compliance with its bond responsibilities (the highest result). This year, the building program included classroom modernization and the Miranda Ave. parking and drop-off project at Gunn, in addition to completion of the math and social sciences building. At Paly, significant progress has been made on the new performing arts center. And the new classroom building and modernization of existing classrooms was completed at Duveneck Elementary. As of June 30, 2015, approximately 65% of the full Bond Budget was contractually committed and 57% has been expended.
AROUND AND ABOUT: This month, I was happy to serve about 1,600 complete Thanksgiving Turkey lunches to hungry Gunn students. (Last year, I was at Paly's event, so I was ready!) I was also honored to attend Hoover's Winter Wonderland evening and auction, a warm community-building and fundraising event. I attended the Bi-County Early Learning Family Engagement Summit, with new Principal Dawn Yoshinaga from PAUSD's Early Learning programs at Greendell. We heard innovative ideas for improving communications with families, including attending a model "Parent Cafe" where parents talk about resiliency, strengthening families, building relationships, and social and emotional connections both within the family and in the larger school community. More info. HERE. I also visited Barron Park for a brown bag lunch with teachers and to help out some very dedicated and energetic parent volunteers during Partners in Education (PiE) Donation Days. And I attended a fascinating community event at Mitchell Park called "Literature, Leadership, and Lunch" with local Peninsula authors Meg Waite Clayton, Brigid O'Farrell, and Myra Strober, hosted by Close the Gap, a terrific organization dedicated to recruiting and promoting women to run for the California State Legislature. I am also still serving as the School Board Liaison to the City of Palo Alto's Community Advisory Committee for the update of the Comprehensive Plan. This month, we discussed the Transportation element. Next month: Land Use and Community Design. These discussions are always lively. Feel free to join these open, public meetings anytime or make a comment on the Digital Commenter. It's easy to use. Click HERE for more information.
Enjoy the cooler temps--hopefully there will be more snow this winter! For the rest of this week I will be in San Diego at the California School Boards Association's Annual Education Conference. Looking forward to connecting with my School Board colleagues from around the State. Happy Holidays to you all.