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Editorial: The Skelly resignation
Original post made
on Feb 21, 2014
While not a surprise, Superintendent Kevin Skelly's announcement this week that he would leave the district at the end of the school year is a great relief.
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posted Friday, February 21, 2014, 12:00 AM
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Posted by anon
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Feb 21, 2014 at 2:57 pm
PA Weekly take note: This is what good people do.
February 21, 2014
Dear fellow PAUSD community members:
While I'm sure my school board colleagues share many of the same sentiments, I am writing to you as an individual, not as their spokesperson. I want to take this moment to thank Kevin Skelly for his compassionate, student-centered, and adept leadership during the past seven years and to express my sense that our school district is losing one of its best champions ever. As you know, Dr. Skelly announced his decision to step away as superintendent effective June 30.
Only one superintendent in the past 40 years has served our public schools longer. Like Newman Walker (1975-85), Dr. Skelly understood the vital, complex, and peppery challenges that come with leading one of our nation's finest public school systems. Former school board president Don Way once explained the role of a PAUSD superintendent this way: "The job description is simple: Walk on water, twice, before breakfast." Despite the high expectations we have, this superintendent has delivered for us with integrity, good humor, and countless impressive results that were indeed what he termed "worthy of the promise and talents of our students."
Casey Stengel once said, "Getting good players is easy. Getting 'em to play together is the hard part." Kevin Skelly has done this "hard part" especially well. I think the Yankee skipper would have indeed admired his empathy, resolve, and ability to explore and fulfill common interests while surrounded by a diverse and expressive cadre of board members, administrators, teachers, parents, students, and community members.
Our community is full of good players - students, administrators, principals, teachers, parents, and homeowners who care deeply about the education and wellbeing of our young people, the excellence of our schools, and the high expectations we have of our school board and district leaders. That is as it should be, and I'd like to share just a few of Kevin Skelly's contributions.
In his first year, back in 2007, Dr. Skelly asked PAUSD stakeholders for their opinions about district services. With help from a highly acclaimed consulting firm, he received over 4,000 responses that led to an array of district-wide initiatives, including a fruitful focus on improving college readiness; an innovative new preschool readiness program for low-income children; a strengthened high school guidance and peer-to-peer support system; increased middle and high school academic electives; a more inspirational structure for teachers to develop and share instructional practices; and 300,000 square feet of much-needed new classrooms, science labs, libraries and athletic facilities. Our superintendent initiated a 360-degree evaluation process to hold himself accountable year after year and robust, user-feedback surveys to monitor district progress through the lens of students, parents, and teachers.
Our students, parents, and teachers are thoughtful judges of district goals, efforts, and results. Last spring, thousands of survey respondents reported 90% parent satisfaction with the education students receive; 84% parent satisfaction with the social-emotional experience of students; 88% student satisfaction with the quality of teachers, and 87% parent satisfaction with home-school communications. Our superintendent's efforts provided the necessary supports for students and teachers to reinforce some of the highest college readiness rates in California, with 85% of this year's senior class meeting rigorous University of California admission requirements (up from 75% in 2008), including an unprecedented 26% of them qualifying as National Merit Commended or Semi-Finalist Scholars. 94% of last year's graduates are attending college.
I want to reaffirm that Dr. Skelly's decision was entirely his. His departure is not what the school board wanted for our school district. He has earned our confidence, respect, and gratitude during every evaluation period throughout his seven years of service, and full support for every contract extension. We had good reason to draw such conclusions.
As one who graduated, whose husband graduated, and whose four children graduated from our exceptional public school system, I can opine with conviction that there has never been a better time to be a student in PAUSD. That is in no small measure due to the steadfast contributions of our superintendent and the time and talents of the principals, teachers, and parents in our schools.
Moving forward, the school board will review its successful 2007 superintendent search process and promptly develop a timeline and process to recruit and select an outstanding individual to lead our school district going forward. We will invite your participation as we solicit community input over the next month on the specific attributes that you seek in our next superintendent.
As my school board colleagues and I look forward to serving our students, families, and district staff in the coming months, please join us in recognizing Kevin Skelly for the energy and talent that he fostered here for our schools.
President, Board of Education
Palo Alto Unified School District
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