Homework policy, graduation requirements, high school counseling and possible school budget cuts crowd tonight's agenda of the Palo Alto Board of Education.
The board is expected to finalize new high school graduation requirements, effective with the Class of 2016 -- today's eighth graders -- that will align with entrance criteria to California's public, four-year universities. The new policy also will offer customized "alternative graduation requirements," to be negotiated by students, parents and the school district, for students who cannot or prefer not to pursue the standard route.
The new rules will not affect 80 percent of Palo Alto students, who already routinely meet or exceed the four-year college prep course load.
School board members also are scheduled to vote tonight on a proposed two-year, $10,000-a-month lease of property at 525 San Antonio Road, which was purchased by the school district last November with the idea of eventually putting classrooms there.
The primary lessee would be Athena Academy, a small, nonprofit, startup school for dyslexic learners. Athena plans to sublease space to Champion Kinder International School, which currently operates day care and after school Chinese programs at Stratford School, 870 N. California Ave.
The board will hear a presentation from a parent-teacher Homework Advisory Committee, which has met monthly since December to examine the "purpose and volume" of Palo Alto's K-12 homework as well as the schools' policies for distributing test and project deadlines.
On the topic of high school counseling, Superintendent Kevin Skelly will present a staff analysis of nearly 1,700 "open-ended responses" by high school students about counseling services. The responses were part of a larger student survey on counseling administered in March.
The parent-led group We Can Do Better Palo Alto, which has lobbied the board for more than a year to have Gunn High School adopt Palo Alto High School's "teacher advisory" counseling model, previously has published a separate analysis of the student comments.
Also tonight, Skelly and his staff will present an update on the school budget outlook following the May 14 budget revision proposals from Gov. Jerry Brown. The governor's latest proposal assumes passage of his proposed tax initiative this November.
But staff members said that districts are being advised to plan for "trigger cuts" of $450 per student should it fail.
Tonight's public session convenes at 6:30 p.m. in the board room of school district headquarters, 25 Churchill Ave.
The board also will convene earlier today, at 1 p.m., for a study session on enrollment projections and facilities planning. That meeting will be held in Conference Room A of school district headquarters, 25 Churchill Ave.