It’s been an honor to serve you as a Trustee for the Palo Alto Board of Education from 2012 to 2016. I have deepened my knowledge about the Palo Alto Unified School District, as well as learned more about key educational issues, legislation, and budget trends in our neighboring school districts and throughout the State of California.
The past four years, I have worked hard to benefit the 12,000+ students in our district in multiple ways. I’ve organized the work of my initial School Board term into five categories, mirroring the categories in our Strategic Plan. These include: Academic Achievement, Personal Development and Support, Staff Recruitment and Development, Budget and Infrastructure, and Governance and Communications.
-Implementing Full-Day Kindergarten with increased Instructional Aide hours.
-Engaged in a national search and in-depth interview process to hire a new Superintendent, Dr. Max McGee.
-Integration of the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS)
-Served on the Strategic Plan sub-committee to refresh our 5-year plan for district goals and metrics. Created a new Vision and Mission statement for the district.
-Endorsed creation of the Superintendent’s Minority Achievement and Talent Development Task Force, to look deeply into achievement data and access to higher level courses for all students.
-Supported a School Calendar ensuring students enjoy a work-free Winter Break.
-Actively supported creation of an Early Childhood Development course at Paly where students spend two days in an early education classroom at Greendell.
-Supported creation of Transitional Kindergarten and expanded TK at PAUSD.
-Supported introduction of Pathways programs at Paly and Gunn (Social Justice, Sports, Engineering).
-New Elementary School Report Card
-Shift to Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) statewide testing, instead of STAR Testing.
-Advocated for increased summer school opportunities.
-New Advanced Authentic Research project-based program introduced for high school students.
-Creative bell schedule and elimination of zero period at Gunn.
-Focused goal on course consistency and alignment, and ownership for personalized learning.
-Move to Advisory Guidance model at Gunn High School: Titan Connect.
Personal Development and Support
-Advocated for adding this fifth category to the Strategic Plan, dedicated to student social and emotional health.
-Liaised to Project Safety Net to coordinate community efforts towards suicide prevention and mental health services.
-Worked with the Dept. of Education’s Office for Civil Rights to update our bullying policies, non-discrimination, and sexual harassment policies, and develop a Uniform Complaint Procedure for the district.
-Advocated for the recommendations of the Gunn Guidance Advisory Committee report for more effective guidance delivery systems and curricula at both high schools.
-Served on the sub-committee to support Buena Vista Mobile Home Park students’ access to a PAUSD education. Spoke to the Palo Alto City Council on behalf of the School Board.
-Advocated for healthier food options for all students, more widespread use of school gardens, and a breakfast program for our free and reduced lunch students.
-Supporter of Unity Day, an Annual event created to highlight bullying prevention activities and encourage respect for all students, organized by our Special Education Advisory Committee team.
-Expansion of “Connections” program at JLS to additional class.
-Added emergency Epi-pens to all our school sites.
-Created new policies around Gender Identity and Access to provide broad protections from discrimination based on perceived gender identity.
-New Committee formed to look at consistent SEL curriculum, first with grades 6-12
-Requested support from the CDC through the Santa Clara County Department of Public Health for an Epi-Aid Study on suicides and suicide prevention practices.
Staff Recruitment and Development
-Set aside $5 million earmarked for Professional Development. Supported creation of a new Director of Professional Development and online tracking system for PD.
-Dedicated funding to CCSS implementation
-New staff development model of “Powerful Practices” introduced to deepen the learning and engagement of teachers and students and share best practices among teachers.
-Supported in-depth teacher partnership with Columbia’s Teacher’s College, which resulted in new writing rubrics, teaching strategies, and assessments.
-New efforts to create more inclusion classrooms and co-teaching throughout our district.
-With resignation of long-time Supe Kevin Skelly, expected major turnover at the district office, leading to new people for Superintendent, Assoc. Supe, Dir. Of Secondary Ed, Dir. Of Elementary Ed, Chief Tech Office, Dir. Of Research and Evaluation, and Director of Communications. Also new Principals at: Greendell, Fairmeadow, Jordan, Gunn, Paly, Terman, Ohlone, Escondido, El Carmelo, Palo Verde, Barron Park, and Addison.
Budget and Infrastructure
-Aligned our resources to support our most important resource--the classroom teacher.
-The State of California converted its education funding to a new system, known as the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF). As a community-funded district, continued to advocate for equitable and adequate funding for every student in our state.
-Supported creation of a Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP), an annual effort to reach all students, particularly low-income, English-Language learners, and foster youth.
-Evaluated enrollment growth and analyzed historical trends to decide on potential new elementary school or secondary school.
-Advocated for Prop 30, to bring needed educational dollars into the state, restoring funding to 2007 levels.
-2008 Strong Schools Bond construction continued, with new classroom buildings added to JLS, Fairmeadow, and Duveneck, a new library, administration building and theater classroom at Terman, a new Multipurpose room at Jordan, a new Titan Gym and English/Math building at Gunn, and a new Media Arts Center and English/Math building at Paly. Ongoing projects are a new Paly Performing Arts Center, a new Paly Athletic Center (funded in partnership with a generous donation from the Peery family), and a new Central Building and Music classrooms’ project at Gunn, including a new Student Activities Center and Wellness Center.
-Planned for Addison donation and building project.
-Partnered with the City of Palo Alto to decide next steps on Cubberley development Master Plan
-Evaluated impact of unfunded liability of teacher retirement fund (CALSTRS), including shifting large share of burden to school districts.
-New budget process: added formal study sessions in Nov. and Feb. to look at program additions and compensation.
-Successful Parcel Tax, passed May 5, 2015 with 77.3% of the vote!
Communications and Governance
-Advocated strongly for a new, more navigable website and expanded search capabilities.
-Created and sustained a monthly newsletter to inform the community about the work of the School Board.
-Supported Superintendent in creating community webinars, newsletters, and outreach efforts.
-Attended the California School Boards Association’s Annual Education Conference each year to learn about current educational trends, budget impacts, and innovations across California’s 1,000 school districts.
-Completed CSBA New Board Member Institute and began CSBA’s Masters in Governance program.
-Attended annual meetings for Schools for Sound Finance (SF2) and the California Suburban School Districts (CALSSD) and events hosted by the Santa Clara County School Boards Association (SCCSBA).
-Resolutions in support of Buena Vista
-Partnered with California School Board Association to work against a local reserves cap, limiting our budget reserves.
-City of Palo Alto Comprehensive Plan Update 2030, Community Advisory Committee as School Board Liaison
-City of Palo Alto Housing Element, Community Advisory Committee
-Board Policy Review Committee, including Chair
-Liaison to Los Altos Hills Town Council
-Education Advisory Committees for local elected officials: Rich Gordon, California Assembly, Jerry Hill, California State Senate
-Early Education Committee, Palo Alto League of Women Voters
Joyful Connections to Schools
-Read Across America Day
-School Liaison Role at every school site
-Chinese New Year celebrations
-High School Sporting Events
-Youth Speaks Out Art Exhibitions
-Turkey Days at both high schools
-Student Executive Council meetings
-Summer School Visits
-Gunn’s 50th Anniversary
-Paly’s Farewell to the Gym
-PiE Donation Days
-May Fete Parade