The leaves are changing and the weather is cooling; it must be Fall. Our students are actively engaged in learning and our teachers are preparing for the PAUSD Powerful Practices staff development conference on Friday. In my house, we just made our first pumpkin pie of the season; a sure sign that Halloween is right around the corner.
CAMPAIGN UPDATE: Only 5+ weeks to go before Election Day, November 8th, 2016. I've enjoyed being out in the community at candidate forums, talking about issues that matter in our school district. A heartfelt thanks to so many of you for your kind comments, your endorsement, and for taking a lawn sign and/or hosting a coffee event to introduce me to your friends and neighbors. I need to raise an additional $5,000 this month to run a competitive campaign, so if you haven't had a chance to donate yet, I would very much appreciate your financial support: https://heidiemberling.nationbuilder.com/donate. Campaigns are expensive and I need your help to WIN on November 8th.
2016-17 BUDGET: This month, the Board approved the District's final 2015-16 budget and the proposed budget for the current 2016-17 year, following a series of five meetings and study sessions about the budget shortfall from the less-than-projected property tax increases. The 2016-17 budget will be reviewed and modified as the County property tax revenue projections are received in November, February, and May. At our last meeting in September, the Board approved 13 budget solutions totaling $4.2 million to address the shortfall this year, making cuts as far from the classroom as possible and maintaining all of its Basic Aid reserves (the State of California requires 3% reserves; PAUSD has a policy mandating 10% reserves). To plan ahead for the 2017-18 school year, the Board will hold a budget study session on the morning of October 18th. This is an opportunity for us to look back at the programs and resources we've added over the past four years and evaluate what has worked and what needs to be changed or modified moving forward. To read the report and see a list of the budget solutions, click HERE.
ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE RESULTS - ELEMENTARY: The district presented the 2015-16 student achievement results for the new CAASPP/SBAC State Assessment. Since last year was the baseline year for this new Common Core-aligned assessment, this is the first comparison year available. Overall, there is positive growth in our elementary schools--a direct result of the hard work of our teachers, the engagement of our students, and the support of specialists at school and families at home. The district also shared the disaggregated data by grade level, racial ethnic group, and socio-economic status. While PAUSD scores are higher than Santa Clara County and the State of California, we still have a persistent achievement gap in our district, particularly for our economically-disadvantaged students. District Director of Research, Evaluation, and Assessment Chris Kolar and Program Evaluation Coordinator Clarisse Haxton will be working directly with school sites to delve deeply into this achievement data, in order to inform instruction and support. To read the report, click HERE.
ELEMENTARY MATH ADOPTION: The District presented three mathematics curricula to pilot this year for adoption in the 2017-18 school year: Investigations, Bridges, and Eureka/Engage New York (recommended for supplementation). Two of the three curricula, Bridges and Eureka/Engage New York, have received favorable reviews from Ed Reports, a non-profit, independent institution that provides evidence-based third-party validation for educational curricula. The most current version of Investigations has not yet been reviewed. The Board approved the pilot for both Bridges and Eureka/Engage New York and conditionally approved the pilot for Investigations later this year, pending a favorable review by Ed Reports. To read the report, click HERE for the Math Study Session packet and HERE for the Board report.
ENROLLMENT REPORT: Overall, elementary enrollment has decreased by 295 students this year, below our conservative projection of 152. Our middle schools have grown 101 students. The growth is expected to stabilize as the current smaller 4th and 5th grade classes enter middle school over the next two years. Our high school enrollment has decreased by 33 students. The district is projecting growth over the next few years as the large middle school cohorts move through, and then declining enrollment for the subsequent 5-6 years as our elementary-aged students reach high school. If you look at our 10-year growth from the 2006-07 year, however, you will see a total overall growth of 357 students in elementary, 659 students in middle school, and 308 students at the high school level. To read the report, click HERE.
OPENING AN ADDITIONAL SCHOOL: Due to declining enrollment in our elementary population and current budget constraints, the Superintendent did not receive enough Board support to pursue a process for opening up a new elementary, middle, or K-8 school, but did receive Board support to work with a consultant and design a process to re-purpose space at the District office (25 Churchill) or at Cubberley for a potential "innovative alternative choice placement for middle school and high school students" that is not only smaller, but also more individualized to students' abilities and interests, with less emphasis on grades and test scores than our current secondary schools. This might be an extension of a current school or an alternative option like the Middle College option at Foothill. Re-purposing one of the sites for childcare was also mentioned as a viable option for further study. To see the report, click HERE.
VISITING SCHOOLS: I was able to visit all of my Liaison schools this month and saw wonderful teaching, learning, and cultural exchanges on every campus. At Fairmeadow Elementary, I attended the energizing Rock & Walk, where students of all ages participated in a walk-a-thon and parents signed up for wonderful auction items and events. There were arts and crafts activities, community partner booths, food trucks, and a surprise teacher and parent flash mob on the field! At Nixon and El Carmelo elementary schools, I visited classrooms with Principals Mary Pat O'Connell and Danae Reynolds. I saw Teachers' College Readers and Writers Workshop lessons, innovative use of technology, student poetry readings, and math games. Many students were moving around the classroom, doing hands-on exploration or finding a quiet corner to read. And at Jordan Middle School, I attended the lively International Fair, where I ate some delicious food from around the world, saw some athletic bollywood dance, and learned about students' and families' home countries, customs, and traditions. I am grateful to all the families, teachers, and administrators who create a diversity of experiences that truly engage, challenge, enrich, and support our students every day. See my BLOG for photos!