Principals of Gunn and Palo Alto high schools will report to the Board of Education tonight, Tuesday, Oct. 9, on their efforts to improve guidance-counseling services.
The issue has been particularly controversial at Gunn, where a parent group, We Can Do Better Palo Alto, has lobbied for the school to abandon its traditional counseling system and adopt a "teacher advisory" model that's been in use at Paly for more than 15 years.
Paly's teacher-advisory system uses 46 teachers to augment a small counseling staff. Gunn, by contrast, employs seven guidance counselors to handle the gamut of advising, generally on an appointment basis.
School board members have said the two schools need not have identical counseling systems, so long as all students get "comparable services." They have asked Gunn to consider a teacher-advisory model among its options, and in any case to come up with a system that gives students more adult "touch points."
An internal Gunn committee representing a range of viewpoints is due to recommend guidance-counseling reforms early next year. The Gunn committee is seeking clarification from the board tonight on what it means by "comparable services."
Superintendent Kevin Skelly has recommended language to clarify "comparable services," but his recommendation is disputed by the We Can Do Better group, which argues that the two high schools need a more unified vision.
In other business tonight, the board will hear a report on official enrollment figures for 2012-13, including data on ethnicity and on the number of students who have been "overflowed" from their neighborhood schools due to lack of space.
The board also will hear a presentation on Palo Alto's key findings in the 2011-12 California Healthy Kids Survey, which tracks risk and resiliency factors for seventh-, ninth- and 11th-graders.
The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the boardroom of school district headquarters, 25 Churchill Ave.