Palo Alto's two high schools will be the main focus of Tuesday night's school board meeting, with the board set to approve their Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) reports, exhaustive self-studies that examined areas of strength and weakness in academics, school climate, culture and more.
The 500-page reports, produced every six years by leadership teams of staff, students and parents at Palo Alto and Gunn high schools, are the schools' guiding planning documents. The principals from each high school presented their respective reports to the board last month, identifying the top challenges and goals they each want to tackle -- with much overlap -- and their plans for how to do so.
Both Paly and Gunn identified in their reports increased consistency in curriculum, instruction and assessment; better use of data to guide decision-making; closing the achievement gap and school culture as top priorities. (View Gunn's full WASC report here and Paly's, here.)
In Superintendent Max McGee's regular "executive summary" for tonight's board meeting, he wrote that the board's approval of the schools' WASC reports does not "imply implicit or explicit approval of every recommendation, every finding, or every conclusion.
"Accepting the report merely confirms the Board supports the accreditation of the high schools," McGee continued. "Over the course of the next six years, the Board will have ample opportunities to discuss and vote on policy recommendations, significant budget expenditures, and staffing additions that come out of the WASC reports."
At tonight's meeting, each school's WASC leadership team will recap their processes and present their goals to the board. The final step in the WASC process are multi-day visits from an accreditation team who evaluate their reports and then offer what they think are the school's major strengths and areas for improvement. The team visited Paly March 1-4 and will be at Gunn March 22-25.
School board member Ken Dauber requested at the board's last meeting on Feb. 24 that the WASC reports be return as an agenda item rather than on the consent calendar, which would mean an automatic approval rather than a full discussion.
Dauber also suggested that at a separate meeting in the near future, the board have an agenda item dedicated to mental health and wellness. Paly and Gunn's social-emotional wellness programs, services and initiatives will be placed on the March 24 agenda, according to a staff report. If questions or ideas related to these topics come up tonight, they will be noted with an understanding that a portion of the board's next meeting will be to having a "more detailed, 'follow on' discussion," staff wrote in this week's board packet.
In other business Tuesday, the board will consider approving a second interim budget report, hear a report from the superintendent on progress on board goals and consider authorizing staff to purchase up to $1,121,000 of Apple computers and up to $510,000 of Dell Chromebooks.
The Tuesday, March 10, meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. at district headquarters, 25 Churchill Ave. View the full agenda here.