News


Update: District eyes $250,000 in mental health support

School board to discuss $2M in staff, program additions

The Palo Alto school board will consider tonight the allocation of $250,000 to hire two full-time licensed mental health therapists, one for each high school, according to an updated agenda released Tuesday afternoon.

The therapists will be contracted employees and not necessarily associated with organizations like Adolescent Counseling Services that already provide on-campus services, Superintendent Max McGee said. ACS and other school-based counseling programs as well as local private practices are reportedly in high demand this year. The therapists would "provide essential Tier One Intervention support for students who are having social, emotional, and/or behavioral challenges and "design appropriate interventions for the teachers of these students to differentiate instruction, to incorporate social-emotional and behavioral classroom plans, and to support and monitor student progress and mental health," a staff report reads.

McGee told the Weekly Tuesday afternoon that this additional mental health support was prioritized after recent conversations with both Palo Alto and Gunn high schools' principals, school counselors students, parents and community members. The principals "requested these positions as the best way to provide the most needed services for the largest number of students," a staff report reads.

"Something needs to be done," McGee said Tuesday. "We're in a crisis situation."

The hiring proposal is being made as part of $2 million in funding requests for the 2015-16 school year, primarily in staffing throughout the district, to be considered by the board at a special meeting Tuesday night.

Meg Durbin, a Palo Alto Medical Foundation pediatrician and co-founder of the HEARD Alliance, a coalition of health professionals dedicated to youth mental health, lauded the district Tuesday for taking a step toward increasing access to mental health services in a community where therapists who have immediate openings are scarce.

"It's difficult to find therapists in networks for the patients' insurance and to find network people who have prompt openings," Durbin said. "When people are going to pay out of pocket, even then it's hard to get good access to quality people."

"It's not all up to the schools (to fill that gap), but it's really profoundly important they're going to commit to that," she added.

Durbin said Palo Alto Medial Foundation would welcome the opportunity to work with these two new hires to better integrate school-based services with primary care and ongoing mental-health support provided outside of the schools. She said it will be important for the therapists to have established connections with psychiatrists or physicians to which students can be referred.

Staff are suggesting three options for funding the two new mental health hires, one of which means modifying some of the other staffing requests: hiring two instead of three full-time Teachers on Special Assignments for the secondary level; hiring one high-school clerical support person instead of two; assuming the schools will cover all graduation costs instead of contributing $15,000 in district funds to each school; and cover additional items like a professional development day, art supplies and music instrument repair through existing professional development and materials and supplies budgets.

A second option is to fund the new therapists from the current 2014-15 budget "because our property tax revenues exceeded earlier projections and funds are available," the report reads.

A third option would be to dip into the district's reserves. McGee said assuming the reserves will be above the 10-percent required by district policy, he will recommend at least $500,000 be earmarked for student health and wellness supports. He noted that he also plans to recommend that some reserve money be set aside to fund the opening of a new school, though that will not be discussed at tonight's meeting.

"The schools are a part of the larger environment," McGee said. "We will try to do our part and know that others are working to do theirs as well."

Staff is recommending the district set aside the largest chunk of the $2 million proposal, $600,000, to fund an additional full-time Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA) who would provide math and literacy support for all of Palo Alto's 13 elementary schools. In addition, each elementary site would receive a part-time staff member to "to support their schools as determined by site needs," a staff report reads.

"Increasing school site allocations allow school sites' flexibility in fulfilling their unique student needs," the report continues. "Most of the sites plan to use the funds to increase certificated staffing, specifically 1 Reading Specialist and Math Specialist support positions. Reading and math are consistently identified as gateway skills for learning throughout a student's journey through our schools."

At the secondary level, staff originally proposed the district allocate $358,864 to pay for three additional TOSAs to support staff during the transition to new state standards such as the Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards. An additional $363,156 would fund additional middle school administrative support needed to address increasing enrollment and other administrative responsibilities, according to the report.

With $157,905, staff is proposing the district reclassify the two high schools' half-time dean position to a full-time assistant principal who would "perform administrative support duties to address the increase of enrollment, additional administrative responsibilities and support comprehensive programs," the report reads.

This addition would allow each high school to have four assistant principals and would also free up additional staffing to be used to lower class size, according to district staff. An additional $133,253 could support two additional classified staff members at the high schools to perform clerical and secretarial duties due to the increasing amount of work created by the increased of enrollment, according to the staff report.

Palo Alto and Gunn high schools could also have a new student research coordinator who would "design, develop, deliver, and evaluate electives for high school students that provide a framework for students to conduct original investigations on compelling questions of interest; collaborate with other students and on-campus or off-campus professionals such as educators, researchers, and scholars; and to share their investigation results through professional presentations, competitions, and publications," the report reads. Staff is recommending the board allocate $142,862 for this position.

Another new position on the table is a half-time English Language Learner (ELL) and bilingual support TOSA, who would work with ELL students and their families – as well as other bilingual students – to overcome language barriers, encourage parental involvement and improve these communities' access to information and school resources, staff said. The TOSA could continue current work in this area that is already being executed at a smaller scale, for example, by a Spanish-language tutor who is available to parents and students one day a week for three hours at Walter Hays, Hoover, Addison, and Duveneck elementary schools.

The board will also consider allocating about $100,000 to bring the three middle schools' health technicians on full time. The health technicians "perform a variety of technical duties in support of student health services" from administering basic first aid, dispensing medications and screening ill students to serving as a liaison for student health services and preparing and maintaining student immunization and health information, records and files, according to a job description. Due to a shortage in applications for this position, the district is planning to review the salary for health technicians elsewhere in the county.

The board approved $2.9 million in additional resource allocations for the current school year to pay for additional staff at all levels (the largest dollar amount went to the high schools), technology support and counseling services.

The board is holding a special meeting Tuesday, March 31, after reaching this agenda item at a late hour at last week's board meeting and deciding to postpone it. The board will also hear an update on future revisions for the district's website. The meeting will begin at 5:45 p.m. at district headquarters, 25 Churchill Ave. View the agenda here.

Comments

28 people like this
Posted by Reality check
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 31, 2015 at 9:24 am

Why is there no money in here for suicide prevention? The superintendent and board are disconnected from reality.

We need money for social emotional health, we need counselors and therapists, we need experts to help us solve this problem. We don't need yet another competitive program (full-time high school research coordinator? What?) that benefits only a select few. If we really have $140K laying around for science, let's see what the science departments want - lab equipment? And if we have money to burn period, spend it on our wellness initiatives, get some professional development in here to teach our teachers how to teach without so much homework.

My two cents.


12 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 31, 2015 at 9:35 am

I understand your point of view and agree with most of your statement. However, I don't think the PAUSD Charter includes providing mental health therapists to each campus...in other words a doctor (PhD/MD). Certainly additional training for the faculty & staff would be most helpful...so that parents can be alerted to a discovered concern. But treating mental illness on campus is not appropriate --- that should be handled at a medical site...and should be managed by the student's family.


11 people like this
Posted by Elementary School mom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 31, 2015 at 9:44 am

I wish they could use the money to make the class size smaller, then teachers could pay more attention to each student. Perhaps $2m is not enough. But this is my #1 wish on the PAUSD wish list.


29 people like this
Posted by Reality check
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 31, 2015 at 9:47 am

@CPD, what is ACS doing on campus then? We already provide school-based mental health even when there is no suicide cluster. Right now it is a pretty safe bet that big chunks of the population including staff and students have post-traumatic stress and are suffering from serious symptoms. We also need to do significant work in the elementary and middle schools too. The idea that there is no role for school-based mental health is wrong -- we have providers on campus now and we should have more of them.

We should also change policies and practices that are causing our students to suffer from sleep deprivation which is leading to depression and suicide attempts in the first place! See this article: Web Link

"Teenagers who don’t get enough sleep are four times as likely to develop major depressive disorder as their peers who sleep more, according to researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. They tracked the habits of more than 4,000 adolescents over a year."

The district needs to stop making our kids depressed by assigning too much work, and get rid of early start times for some classes and sports. It needs to assign and pay for more counselors. This is crazy. What do we need a "research director" for? And in the middle of a crisis this is what you are worried about?


27 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Mar 31, 2015 at 9:54 am

When the city approves more and more development, the impact of increased enrollment is not considered.
We pay for the impacts of more and bigger development while the developers and architects make the money.


51 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 31, 2015 at 9:54 am

If the district is raking in more dollars from the rising economy and property taxes why does the parcel tax need to be both raised and extended?


50 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Duveneck School
on Mar 31, 2015 at 10:18 am

Wait so why do we need to Vote Yes on A?


42 people like this
Posted by mutti
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 31, 2015 at 10:28 am

So, why new parcel tax? PAUSD already has way more money per student than other districts in Calif. I'm a senior now, so i can get out of paying parcel taxes and write a check to Ravenswood for the same amount.


30 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 31, 2015 at 10:56 am

They just made up my mind - I will not vote for new parcel tax.


35 people like this
Posted by 38 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 31, 2015 at 11:10 am

Four assistant principals per high school? This makes absolutely no sense. How will students benefit from having more "so called" administrators? What exactly will they do? This is another example of how liberals roll in a failing public education system. Tax the residents and then tax some more. Then add more employees while the students get the short end of the stick. Measure A should be rejected and fiscal accountability should be demanded.


29 people like this
Posted by Jim H.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 31, 2015 at 11:16 am

Nearly all of this is admin support. Very little goes to helping students. Yes, they try to say that adding admin gives others more time for students. Bunch of BS.

The article says, "the largest chunk, $600,000, to fund an additional full-time Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA) who would provide math and literacy support for all of Palo Alto's 13 elementary schools." Makes it sound like a lot is going to support the students. Buth, they then go on to say, "In addition, each elementary site would receive a part-time staff member to "to support their schools as determined by site needs," a staff report reads." So, another 13 administrators to support the schools is included in that $600K figure.

Also included:
- $358,864 to pay for three additional TOSAs to support staff during the transition to new state standards'
- $363,156 would fund additional middle school administrative support
- $157,905, ,,, assistant principal who would "perform administrative support duties
- $133,253 two additional classified staff members at the high schools to perform clerical and secretarial duties
- $142,862 for new student research coordinator who would "design, develop, deliver, and evaluate electives for high school students
- $100,000 to bring the three middle schools' health technicians on full time

They're also approving $2.9M in additional pay. Everytime I'm over at one of the school sites, I see plenty of administrators standing around shooting the breeze. Let's put to money where it needs to be going.

And they want to increase the parcel tax because they're running out of money. I'm sure we've all heard the saying, "Don't pi** on my leg and tell me it's raining"


16 people like this
Posted by 38 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 31, 2015 at 11:36 am

@Jim H....Well stated and thanks for putting the numbers into perspective.


4 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 31, 2015 at 11:42 am

Hi Reality Check,

The best suicide prevention beyond what we are already doing is depression prevention, which from the programmatic standpoint is more about focusing on making happy students (the dietary equivalent of focusing on stopping the donuts versus focusing on eating a healthy satisfying diet). If you haven't seen this article about happiness, it's a must read -- the most important point is that achieving happiness is a side effect of achieving other things, it's not something you can get by trying directly for happiness.
Web Link

Two essential ingredients of happiness are engagement and meaning, two things our current school program has too little of.

How to achieve that? One could easily see that trying to achieve that by a thorough overhaul of our educational system would take decades. I cannot argue for the school district because I unfortunately have too much experience that leaves me with an overriding IBIWISI (I'll-believe-it-when-I-see-it) feeling, but I also still have a lot of hope when it comes to McGee and the new board composition.

If we had a staff position dedicated to "evaluate electives for high school students that provide a framework for students to conduct original investigations on compelling questions of interest" I wonder if this is the key to innovating in our whole educational program. When the district wants to try something new, it usually starts small, then great aspects work their way into the rest of the system.

SJUSD has a learning options program, part of which is a Homestudies program, in which families who want to be independent can find ways to integrate outside projects while still attending school in whatever capacity works best for the family/child. If your child chafes at sitting in class all day (one could argue most children do until they are conditioned to sit sit sit!), and wants to start a business while still at home when it is safest to fail and learn, for example, such an endeavor involves math, living skills, English, presentation skills -- a coordinator could help pull together a program that incorporates such an outside endeavor while still satisfying UC requirements in the students' individualized learning path, even if it's just consolidating certain core requirements as independent study so the student had time to do such a comprehensive project. Science projects are another natural fit, but so would be social projects.

The world is changing fast, and these outside resources are just exploding -- if our students could take advantage of them, it would be so much easier to individualize their programs to optimize every child's education, truly individualized project-based paths, without major disruption to the school, no overhaul necessary, no waiting for Cubberley to reopen before moving forward.

Having a staff member engaged in evaluating electives -- all these new blended learning options -- and bringing them into our school community in the best ways as meets existing needs, is arguably THE best way to help existing teachers innovate, too, so that new resources can be brought into the existing school framework in the most constructive way. It's unrealistic and unhelpful to make every teacher responsible for what is arguably a systems job. Ultimately, we want a successful public school system in our town in which kids are happy and each child's education optimally supported -- something new technology is enabling -- but we don't want public school to be decimated the way the music industry or publishing industry have been by being too arrogant and slow. We want to ride the crest, not be overwhelmed by the coming waves.

If I'm being optimistic, that's my read on it. In order for my take to be successful, though, the district will have to figure out how to make some kind of sanctuary for open communication with families. The SJUSD people (who have been running their program for decades) will tell you the parents have a vibrant community and THEY bring in the best information. The school would be handicapped if it wanted to do everything alone without help (it would be modeling an pretty unhelpful way of achieving things to boot), open source is the best way to innovate. But having a district person who evaluates and serves as a bridge to the administration is a great idea.

If that's what is really intended. Like I said, IBIWISI If you like that vision, though, please send it to the board members and McGee -- important to put in your own words, though, even if not perfect. (Governmental bodies tend to respond to volume of correspondence, but only if the correspondence is not cookie cutter.)

I believe an email to board@pausd.org goes to everyone.


9 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto Parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 31, 2015 at 11:47 am

I really hope that money goes to providing enough guidance counselors such that each student in this school district has a relationship with someone in the school. It would also be nice to see the counselors move up with the children. We are one of the best funded school districts, yet we lack in so much.


28 people like this
Posted by ES
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 31, 2015 at 11:56 am

This is pretty clear evidence that there's no need to raise the parcel tax. Vote no.


3 people like this
Posted by PTSA-Active
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 31, 2015 at 11:58 am

TOSA = Teacher On Special Assignment. The cost sounds crazy at hundreds of thousands, but that's probably for a few years of program, and certainly needs to include other costs like healthcare, office space, equip.
TOSAs are paid at their Teacher salary rate, but tend to work longer in-office hours. They don't teach. While it is certainly debatable whether some of the TOSA positions are worth the expense (I've heard Teachers both compliment and complain about TOSA action/inaction), the public is getting a good deal b/c these positions cost less than hiring an administrative credential, plus the candidates are pre-vetted, in the sense that they already work here. TOSAs in some schools have all the job descriptions of an assistant principal, but are paid less; it's a defacto training ground / stepping stone to upper management.
Just FYI.


13 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 31, 2015 at 12:01 pm

Reality Check,

The trouble with just adding to our current mental health system is that trust is a huge problem not being addressed, and that won't be addressed by adding more people. One could argue it could be addressed by getting rid of certain people, and that could probably be best achieved by *reducing* certain salaries for awhile.

The "hitmen" in our special ed, IEP & 504s, and frankly almost any other issue where kids are vulnerable and on the far end of the curve (like developing mental health problems) are all the same personnel families are supposed to trust when they are feeling vulnerable or in crisis.

Personally, last fall was a nightmare of school stress, and the biggest problem wasn't lack of staff, it was lack of any kind of trusting relationship. Lack of trust comes from lack of open, good faith communication from the school/district and lack of any ability to rely on school personnel to act in a trustworthy manner. I can point to specific people in the district office who are the root of 95% of my own and many other families' worst stress in the last few years, including in the negative policies and just personal politics agendas they push through the people at the school site. Anyone engaged in that kind of bad faith with families would be incapable of serving in a helpful mental health role, and the answer isn't adding more people because all trust is gone anyway. The answer is in working on restoring trust. That doesn't cost anything, in fact, it would probably ultimately save money.


20 people like this
Posted by Reality Check
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 31, 2015 at 12:32 pm

@parent I agree that Young is terrible and I am not sure why he isn't already gone. If he has a contract that lets us fire him and pay him off (it's public record), why don't we write him a check. We can chalk the waste up to Caswell's failed leadership.

But that's not an argument for more taxes and higher spending. That suggests that the board and super are not good managers and waste our money so why give them more of it?


6 people like this
Posted by Concerned Parent
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 31, 2015 at 12:40 pm

The Parcel Tax is what funds smaller class sizes. If you want that, vote yes on A. We have 1100 more students in PAUSD in the past five years, and 700 more expected. Not one single more dollar arrives when those students enroll. If over 5 years, our property tax numbers get a little better than helps but we are never going to be flush with funds. Is PAUSD perfect, good lord no, but to vote no on A and have $13MM less seems terrifyingly foolish.


3 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 31, 2015 at 12:48 pm

@Concerned Parent,
Fortunately, this proposal came forward early enough that there would still be time to come forward with another proposal if it were voted down. This has happened before. Unfortunately, until the board decides to provide for some more direct methods of family input (meaning, input that can't be ignored, like initiatives and referenda), the ballot box is pretty much it.


22 people like this
Posted by My Thoughts
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 31, 2015 at 1:20 pm

My Thoughts is a registered user.

@parent writes: "If the district is raking in more dollars from the rising economy and property taxes why does the parcel tax need to be both raised and extended? "


Classic local government move - they spend the money first on the items they want. Then cry poor when it comes to the communities priorities - and use this panic to fleece teh taxpayers.

Fremont wastes money all the time, then raises taxes to pay for fire & police. You want fire & police don't you?

It is just normal small-town corruption. Should not be surprise.


9 people like this
Posted by Jim H.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 31, 2015 at 1:41 pm

@ Concerned Parent - If the district didn't spend the $4.9M on admin and pay increases, that's a good way to offset the $13M they claim to need from Prop A.

When new students come into the district, let's assume that most of them come with the purchase of a new home. That resets the assessed value of the home to something, most likely, much higher than the people that moved out. So, there is money coming in to the district with new students.

If PAUSD would show that they actually want to take action on items that increase the value to the student's education, instead of setting up committees and studies that drag on until the board members and superintendent can disappear so that no one is held accountable, then maybe I'd believe that they need more money. How long have they been looking at opening a new elementary school? You say the district has 1100 more students. What is their plan to absorb these students? Build bigger schools and stuff them in as tight as they can. Nearly all of the schools, if not all, are now at a capacity over their initial maximum capacity.

PAUSD could easily have opened a new elementary school and even Cubberley as a third HS/4th MS with the money from the bonds instead of stacking students on top of each other. Paly's original capacity was, I believe, 1800-1900 students, now they say it's 2400, with less open space. It's ridiculous.


5 people like this
Posted by Good Pla
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 31, 2015 at 1:57 pm

Using ACS trainees is cost-effective in the short-term, but our HS students really need experienced, full-time therapists. Many families cannot afford the out-of-pocket fees for those in Palo Alto, where almost no one accepts insurance.


23 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 31, 2015 at 2:31 pm

So no need to get rid of 35 teachers when the parcel tax is not extended. This extra money can go instead to pay for them which of course is why there is extra money in the first place.

This extra money is coming from an economic upturn and an increase in income from property taxes. In other words, this money is coming because there are more people living in Palo Alto and paying taxes to live here. This is the money that should be paying for all the things that having extra residents and extra school kids bring.

In other words, we do not need to increase and extend the parcel tax.

They have said it themselves. They have more money from natural sources.

Say No to Measure A.


15 people like this
Posted by TwoWordsForYa
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 31, 2015 at 2:34 pm

"Administrative BLOAT"


30 people like this
Posted by Another dad
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 31, 2015 at 2:41 pm

Hiring "mental health staff" is a smoke screen. The school is crushing kids with stress and insane homework loads. They completely ignore parents who try to get them to back off.

But of course they won't back off. Won't even consider it. Won't listen to public comments at board meetings, when people arrive. Won't allow other board members or teachers to support a saner policy.

A fairly well-connected dad, as one of our local parent meetings, recently said "PAUSD is heading for a lawsuit. Big time. That may the the only thing that shakes them out of their pattern of denial". I now have to agree with this.

To any of you fellow parents who are fighting this...I suggest that "friendly debate" is no longer effective. The school administrators are not debating in good faith. At this point, legal action is probably the only solution that will work.
Alternatively, find a charter school.


4 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 31, 2015 at 3:00 pm

Sorry but this is an action to look like your doing something without addressing the real issues. But this won't upset the teachers so it's more feasible.


17 people like this
Posted by no parcel tax needed!
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 31, 2015 at 3:10 pm

If we have extra money for additional staff, lets use that to fund what the parcel tax funds instead! And perhaps a more zealous person investigating people who live out of the District, I know of at least 4 high school kids who live in Menlo Park and Mountain View and attend Paly (they used to live in Palo Alto).


Like this comment
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 31, 2015 at 3:57 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

The calls to send a message by not approving Measure A bring back a question I posed on another thread: what are the demands of the No on A campaign? Do administrators have to go, how about teachers that don't give enough A's, and what about implementation of a district-wide internal air quality overhaul that meets the highest standards in the country? These issues have been raised online with an energy that suggests they must be addressed. I'm not saying that the opposition should prevail in these matters, but that someone should speak up with counter-arguments for voters to consider before mailing in their Measure A ballot.

Part of the mystique of Palo Alto is that it really supports education. We're in the midst of a great debate about how we can best support students, changes are in the works and more will certainly have to be made. But what is the message if voters, for what I believe to be the first time, decline to tax themselves more to give the support requested by the school district?

Now I'll admit that


Like this comment
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 31, 2015 at 4:08 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

Continued

Now I'll admit that both my wife and I taught in public schools and appreciated the willingness of voters in our respective districts to pass parcel taxes which made possible construction of facilities and provision of programs that improved students' education. Maybe that lies behind my resistance to the notion of "sending a message" by turning down the parcel tax before us.


4 people like this
Posted by Eva
a resident of Barron Park School
on Mar 31, 2015 at 4:20 pm

Yes on Measure A.

Hold on. The parcel tax is a renewal of the existing parcel tax in Palo Alto (plus a very moderate $10/month increase). This is not a new tax. This amounts to $13M per year for Palo Alto schools. The funding pays for 85 full-time staff which are critical in keeping class sizes smaller than other California districts.

If it is not renewed class sizes will increase. Not a good prospect for our kids, schools, or property values.

Web Link


2 people like this
Posted by Karen
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 31, 2015 at 4:25 pm

Do it! Do it NOW!


9 people like this
Posted by OPar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 31, 2015 at 4:37 pm

Jerry Underdal,

Okay, good point. I'll bite. To get a yes vote on Measure A, the district needs to A) eliminate the academic zero period at Gunn and B) make teachers adhere to its already established homework policies. At that point, I'll consider voting for A.

However, I also want the board to quit making mega-elementaries and actually open a 13th elementary. Ideally, I'd like them to look at options for a third high school--it's going to have to be choice or charter because too many people buy or rent with a particular high school in mind, but I think a choice high school would work well in Palo Alto.

So the first two are mandatory--the district needs to own up to its own responsibility when it comes to student stress. The second two would show that the district bureaucrats and board actually have a sense of civic responsibility that goes beyond mutual back-scratching.


22 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 31, 2015 at 4:53 pm

They are proposing 360 thousand dollars to help teachers switch to common core??? Are you kidding me. I bet teachers in other districts were able to do this with a few good trainings. How about using the 360 to help lazy/not great teachers to have better lesson plans so they can give less homework. Of course, they should be able to do that on their own also but at least it might really help our kids.

Unbelievable !


2 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 31, 2015 at 5:00 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

Opar,

Thanks for responding with a position that suggests that maximalist demands are not fixed as conditions for getting your support for A. I hope others will weigh in as well.


12 people like this
Posted by Janice
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Mar 31, 2015 at 5:02 pm

So much money for these therapists when a real cost effective solution would be to start working on the parenting that is leading to too much stress in our children. Parents need to lower their expectations and the school can help by changing homework policies, eliminating zero period, eliminating math lanes, and give our children some realistic and attainable academic goals.


33 people like this
Posted by Absolutely NO
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 31, 2015 at 5:11 pm

The Teachers on Special Assignment have little effect on students. They go from school to school and meet with a few teachers, coach them and encourage them in the way that only Palo Alto can do. They are not needed, they have not been responsible for any achievement in the last 10 years. I know that is tough to hear for some teachers, but it's the truth. They are normally skilled practioners but they only help in bits and pieces and do not impact a school or system as a whole. It's almost an administrative position, which we should not be adding, also. I, too, like Jerry Underdal, taught in the public schools for decades, but I absolutely will be voting NO on the current parcel tax. If by some chance, it does not pass now, Max McGee and Carhy Mak will put together a slideshow warning that we will have to cut teachers. It would be a scare tactic to make sure we get over that two-thirds majority. Folks, open your eyes to see that all these proposals for more staff is just to ensure that they have a message that more money is needed, thus we need more money from the parcel tax. Even if it doesn't pass, there will be some heathy revenue from property tax increases, and this plan will suck up all that money. The final, insulting in my opinion, strategy that PAUSD is using is to message us that the suicides will get worse if we don't pay. That might have been an effective argument in 2010, but things are already worse now? Your NO vote is the critical this time.


4 people like this
Posted by All our schools matter
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 31, 2015 at 5:22 pm

Measure A goes to something like 80 staff throughout the District. So roughly 5 teachers per school. What would your school look like without 5 teachers?

A vote no on Measure A as a message to the Board seems absolutely asinine and petty. And truly destructive. How could it possibly give a clear mandate to anything? Since a No vote doesn't come with any clarifying comments.

If you want change, call the school board, host a coffee and invite them, reach out, attend.


21 people like this
Posted by jerry99
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 31, 2015 at 5:31 pm

If Palo Alto has two million dollars to waste on these programs we don't need another Parcel Tax. Just spend taxpayers money as fast as possible.

Vote NO on Measure A


11 people like this
Posted by jerry99
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 31, 2015 at 5:37 pm

To: All our schools matter
If you can get the socialist free spending Council to not spend this 3 Million dollars in additional nonsense spending, we can all vote for Measure A.

Otherwise, everyone should vote against Measure A.

The City Council ignores the residents on downtown parking, allowance of endless new office space, condos and hotels when the residents don't want any more, refuses to acknowledg eand do somethings about the crime increases downtown and in our neighborhoods. So this is just more wasted money, just like the garbage pail program, two new deputy city managers, the green energy programs and everything else the residents don't want.


15 people like this
Posted by Why are you so sleepy?
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 31, 2015 at 6:39 pm

I teach middle school in an affluent Northern California school district. (I'll leave it at that.)

I did an informal, anectdotal poll and a brief interview in a class recently, asking how many kids were awake past 11:00 pm and how many were awake past midnight. About 20 kids were awake past 11, about 6 said they were awake past midnight, including the two kids I noticed who were taking a brief nap toward the end of class as work wrapped up. I asked how many had their phones and/or computers with them in the bed/bedroom. Almost all of them admitted that the phone was there (some claimed "it was off!"), several said they had a computer with them as well.

Again, I'll leave it at that, except to say that I can tell them until I'm blue in the face that they need at least 8/9 hours of sleep per night, but I have absolutely no control over how they spend their time at home. Someone else is supposed to be in charge of that.


11 people like this
Posted by JIm H
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 31, 2015 at 7:32 pm

Jerry Underdal -
To get a yes vote on Measure A -
1) Open up an elementary/middle/high school. There was a plan floated around recently that would put a K-12 magnet type school at Cubberley. Stop trying to cram kids into spaces that are 30% too small.

2) Take some ownership in their policies. If there's a homework policy put in place, such as there was a few years ago, ensure that it's being followed. If the district spends money on Schoology, mandate that the teachers use it. If there's a policy to not allow students to take 8 classes, then don't allow students to take 8 classes no matter how smart/gifted/driven/etc... they are or how much their parents stomp and scream and hold their breath. It's not that tough

3) Eliminate some of the overhead. Get rid of Golton and Young. They claim Golton is the Measure A expert. Pretty sure he could have trained someone since his retirement in 2004. THAT WAS OVER 10 YEARS AGO!!

4) Hold teachers/administrators accountable. If a principal is sexually harrassing students/staff, fire him, don't send him to a middle school. If a principal is allowing bullying, get rid of her instead of moving her to a district job.

Only one of those costs the district money.


15 people like this
Posted by REALITY CHECK
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 31, 2015 at 7:48 pm

THANK GOD FOR KEN DAUBER ON THIS BOARD!!! THANK YOU PALO ALTO FOR ELECTING KEN DAUBER!!

He is getting a motion on the floor right now to get a vote right now today to get this money to the schools now today not in 3 weeks. THANK YOU KEN DAUBER!!!


2 people like this
Posted by Reason
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 31, 2015 at 10:41 pm

Reason is a registered user.

@Why Sleepy complains about cellphone usage: "Again, I'll leave it at that, except to say that I can tell them until I'm blue in the face that they need at least 8/9 hours of sleep per night, but I have absolutely no control over how they spend their time at home. Someone else is supposed to be in charge of that."


And did you email each and every parent of the specific kids doing this? Did you translate your knowledge into action? Were you an upstander or a bystander?


As a parent, I would like to know when my kid is sneaking screen time. I love opportunities to ground them and take the electronics away.


6 people like this
Posted by Reason
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 31, 2015 at 10:45 pm

Reason is a registered user.

@All Our Schools asks: "Measure A goes to something like 80 staff throughout the District. So roughly 5 teachers per school. What would your school look like without 5 teachers?"


Do I get to pick the teachers? Because I could name 5 and Jordan and 5 at Paly that would immediately improve the mental health of hundreds of students. And save money.

...and I would list them here, but for some reason the Weekly deletes any reference to the individual teachers.

...but one would be the principal at Jordan. And Principal DiOrio would get a stern talk about what it REALLY means to be on the side of the students and advocate for the students when confronted with real teaching problems. The Honeymoon period is just about over with her leadership.


6 people like this
Posted by Reason
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 31, 2015 at 10:52 pm

Reason is a registered user.

Jerry Underdal - "what are the demands of the No on A campaign?"

I disagree with your framing. It is a 2/3 vote needed, and therefore the Board (politicians) job to drum up the vote. It is not an automatic win, they need to justify what they are doing about the Mental Health Crisis, what they are doing with the money to make the schools a better place. They haven't. So I am voting NO because they have failed to produce any believable plans to make school better in any tangible way that addresses the issues we have experienced in the school.

'Yes' is not the automatic-default vote. They need to earn a 'Yes' vote by governing well, and managing well.


They haven't done either.

NO on Measure A.

#RightNow


8 people like this
Posted by Why are you so sleepy?
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 1, 2015 at 5:42 am

@Reason:

"And did you email each and every parent of the specific kids doing this? Did you translate your knowledge into action? Were you an upstander or a bystander?"

It's not the teacher's job to monitor the behavior of students when they are at home. That's your job.


"As a parent, I would like to know when my kid is sneaking screen time. I love opportunities to ground them and take the electronics away."

It's your house, presumably your rules. You are in charge, right?

If 25 kids tell me they are up too late and using electronics, I see a problem, but it's not one I can solve from the front of my classroom, BECAUSE I AM NOT THEIR PARENT.


6 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 2, 2015 at 12:45 am

If it looks pretty certain I'm going to have to spend my money on a charter to get a healthy schooling situation, I'm not going to be inclined to vote yes.

I'm also not going to vote yes if I think the money will go to support the salaries of a few people in the district office who really should be resigning or fired already.

I'm also not inclined to vote for anymore of these things having been confronted with just how districts just ignore what's promised in them after they get the money.

I don't really think the measure will go down if I vote no, and I'm not going to campaign against it, but if it does, there will be time to put through another one. This has happened before.

Does someone have a copy of the district organization chart and who does what? And how much money they each cost us? Let's collectively figure out how to ensure teachers aren't impacted and we streamline (or cull) the district office to boot.


4 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 2, 2015 at 1:50 am

Every vote counts, but every vote against carries twice the weight of a vote for.


8 people like this
Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 2, 2015 at 7:22 am

All Schools Matter @ Midtown states Measure A goes to 5 teachers per school...

Look at the PAUSD budget book; out of the current budget of $185 million, only 60% gets spent on schools.

So if the board is telling us that if Measure A does not pass, they will cut teachers? why don't they tell us what get's cut out of the 40% that does not get spent on schools?

And the school district states that with the parcel tax they will start programs in "student health and wellness efforts, academic supports for struggling students and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) instruction".

So without the parcel tax they cut 5 teachers per school. With the parcel tax they start a bunch of new programs. No middle ground?


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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 2, 2015 at 11:53 am

@common sense, I think those "new" programs are what the extra $10/month is for.


8 people like this
Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 2, 2015 at 5:45 pm

We have $$ to pay for 85 extra classes at Gunn (Zero period, 1 student taking 10 periods, 5 students taking 9 periods, 39 taking 8 periods, how is it possible to actually take 9 or 10 classes?) AND we have extra money for "new programs" AND PiE will be asking for $5 million or so - why do we need an increased parcel tax?


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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 2, 2015 at 8:02 pm

@pa res, that looks more like 4 classes (about 20 students each), not 85 classes.


3 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 4, 2015 at 3:26 pm

As spring moves forward, and without any real changes (both in re-establishing trust, in resolving facilities health problems, and in new educational choice), I am coming to the conclusion that the right thing to do is vote No on this Measure A.

The biggest reason is the ground has moved, and the district office has simply circled the wagons with McGee in the middle. I know way too many people who are moving forward as if they are going to enroll next year, who are also investigating other avenues and are likely to abandon ship at the last minute unless the district acts swiftly and decisively. And the trouble is, McGee is surrounded by people who are still motivated in part by "encouraging" families they see as a threat to their status quo (anyone who might sound the alarm or reform the system) to leave. This isn't the isolate-and-conquer situation they are used to anymore, it won't be bully vulnerable families and forget 'em anymore. Families who leave are going to be seriously exploring better options and telling others.

This time around, families leaving could be like an avalanche -- when some of those families who were so committed to our public system do leave, and discover how to get what they want better elsewhere, others will follow. People are much more interconnected these days, the opportunities for education are poised to disrupt public education the way new technology disrupted the music and publishing industries, and this is a community with a real "hacker" mentality already.

The time to stop the avalanche is when you can prevent it, not after you can't avoid realizing it's really happening. The trouble is that our district office literally has no mechanisms to refine and improve, much less in a timely way, and the incentives of people within the office run counter to the interests of our students with no means of disruptive improvement.

McGee has already lost one really important opportunity to establish a trusting connection with families in the district when he threw his lot in with Young/Carrillo. He's becoming the classic "mushroom" administrator, and it's a real shame.

One of the only disruptive things we can do to get a message through is vote No on Measure A. At least a show of getting through to the district office might be in time to stop a "September Surprise" should a lot of people decide to abandon ship. When enough people find that change is better than staying, it's going to be really hard to stop even if the district does start fixing things. One of the best things it could do right now is get a better team to work with McGee and work on restoring trust, but that looks less likely every day.


4 people like this
Posted by Help from anyone who was against measure D?
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 4, 2015 at 3:49 pm

I agree. I wish some of the people who were AGAINST D would give some pointers here as to how to defeat the parcel tax. It's pretty similar -- how to rein in and send a message to an arrogant public body that is out of touch with what the people want. I am so steamed about the union grievance I can't tell you. And I agree about certain district staffers who have said a lot of things that are not true. There were things in my daughter's 504 that were false and hurt her placement in math classes.

Maybe some of the leaders of the Measure D movement could post here with tips for how to beat the parcel tax.


10 people like this
Posted by Absolutely NO
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 4, 2015 at 4:25 pm

Simply vote NO.

Everything else is just noise to PAEA and Teri Baldwin, CTA and Christal Watts, Charles Young, Melissa Caswell and the board, and even Max McGee. Only now do a bunch more of you understand that PAEA has been calling the shots in the hallways. Ask PAEA who they represent and they will tell you: teachers only. PAEA and CTA should be focused on our kids, but what has been revealed is an attempt to control principals. I believe that's the superintendent's job. You vote NO on that parcel tax and your message is sent. Voting NO does not hurt any student any more than voting yes years ago helped them. PAUSD needs a reset and my NO vote may accomplish that or not.


2 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 4, 2015 at 6:03 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Help from anyone who was against measure D?

"I wish some of the people who were AGAINST D would give some pointers here as to how to defeat the parcel tax"

Some of them have been leading the online campaign, though my guess is that No on D supporters would not be any more likely than other Palo Altans to support depriving the district of support in order to "send a message" to the district; not with a new superintendent and school board working hard to get us through the crisis and regain equilibrium in our troubled district.

I think of the famous line back in the Vietnam War days: "We had to destroy the village in order to save it" when I look at the willingness of some to deprive the district of needed funds in order to reform it to their liking in the aftermath of a failed parcel tax measure.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 4, 2015 at 6:04 pm

Help in Old Palo Alto,

I would be more inclined to put political energy into finding a way to force the district to take homeschoolers for part of the day.

What this would do is give people who need something else for their children NOW a chance to vote with their feet, but still keep their kids in the schools for part of the day for classes like electives and low-homework core classes that are taught well. Create change with a little bit of choice, immediately.

I'd love to also give parents an easier way to file complaints and actually get them addressed, maybe even to a 3rd party the district has to answer to, including against employees who do sleazy slimy conniving things.

Best advice, though, is to form alliances throughout town. Start a parent list that exists outside of school, one geared particularly to advocacy, and start inviting people and get other parents to invite their friends. Reach out to disaffected parent groups across town. Is it too late to submit a NO argument for the ballot? Submit an argument as a group you potentially form? There are many things you could do. They all take work.


3 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 4, 2015 at 6:07 pm

With all due respect, Jerry, you really don't know what you are talking about.

The closest there is to a No campaign is that #Right Now person, and I don't think any of us know who that is, but I don't think it's someone from the Maybell side of town. For one, Lydia Kou is working on the Yes Measure A campaign.


4 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 4, 2015 at 6:09 pm

"not with a new superintendent and school board working hard to get us through the crisis and regain equilibrium in our troubled district."

My answer to that has been repeated now, from the old political campaign:

It's the TRUST, stupid.


7 people like this
Posted by Benjamin Willard
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Apr 4, 2015 at 6:14 pm

I think PAEA is doing a great job burning the village. Anyway it's a bit of an overstatement to say that not getting a fat teacher salary and bargaining unit membership increase (along with concomitant dues increase) this year instead of next is my lai. Though I do hear the strains of Wagner playing.

My conditions are:

Schoology
Homework policy and limits enforced
No more zero period


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Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 5, 2015 at 10:34 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@parent
"The closest there is to a No campaign is that #Right Now person, and I don't think any of us know who that is. . ."

@parent (taken from the thread: What message are you sending when you vote NO on Measure A?)

"The possibility of losing the bond and the district threatening to cut teachers, and families finally rising up and demanding we cull the top heavy administration first, is actually a reason all alone to vote NO."

With all due respect, that kind of statement, rather than a (non-existent so far as I know) formal structure is what I'm referring to when I refer to an online No on A campaign.

I'm glad that Lydia Kou is working with the Yes on A campaign. I think it will help solidify support for her candidacy if she decides to run again for city council in 2016.


4 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 5, 2015 at 11:47 pm

With all sue respect Jerry, this is an extremely emotional and difficult time for the parent community. My own views are evolving, I stand by what I said and do not appreciate you throwing it back at me like it means anything more than an answer to the question asked. [Portion removed.]


4 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 6, 2015 at 12:03 am

The possibility of losing the bond and the district threatening to cut teachers, and families finally rising up and demanding we cull the top heavy administration first, is actually a reason all alone to vote NO."

With all due respect, that kind of statement, rather than a (non-existent so far as I know) formal structure is what I'm referring to when I refer to an online No on A campaign.

And by the way, that is not a campaign of any kind, that is my thinking out loud about the power dynamic and how it could play out. [Portion removed.] Some pretty terrible stuff has been happening to very vulnerable kids and there has literally been no mechanism to fix it. You want to get my vote for A? Go to the board and get them to institute some form of checks and balances in their procedures. Read the PTA bylaws and see if you can get ideas for how that would work. Talk to parents of special needs kids, if they'll talk to you, about the kinds of deviousness they may have experienced and think about what kinds of more administrative remedies might make sense to allow families so e say when rhings go that wrong.

If you made an actual avenue for families to send a msg malfuntioning districts couldn't ignore, it wouldnt be necessary in the bond. Good luck.

Beyond that, this is not a traditional political race and we do not need the kind of destructiveness to the fragile community.


4 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 6, 2015 at 12:15 am

PS - the reason you have to go to the board is because only they have the power to create such checks and balances. They are otherwise completely insular in their operation as a governmental body. Even the PTA bylaws recognize checks and balances are necessary or organizations get destroyed by corruption. And they just plain work better when they better approximate democratic principles.

No one in any other governmental body has the power to create such rules for them. Unfortunately, absolute power has a tendency to corrupt absolutely. Good lick getting the fox to volunteer to leave the henhouse. Those kinds of changes typically only happen when the decisionmakers' backs are truly against the wall.


3 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 7, 2015 at 12:56 am

Moderators going so overboard to apply a double standard to comments to Jerry Underdal versus comments made by Jerry Underdal is making it difficult to understand the standard.


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Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 7, 2015 at 9:58 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Parent,

"Talk to parents of special needs kids, if they'll talk to you, about the kinds of deviousness they may have experienced . . ."

It sounds as if many of the voices most critical of the school board and administration, many of them calling for no additional funding for the district until their demands are met, may be parents of special needs kids. I've read charges of deviousness, unaccountability and retaliation against anyone who complains for weeks now. I have no way to judge the accuracy and balance of these accounts, and that bothers me because it's like a sore that never heals, and I don't have the experience or wisdom to suggest anything to help. I don't even know what the routine procedures are to challenge the adequacy of accommodations offered by the district, much less the extraordinary procedures available if parents' and administrators' positions are just not reconcilable. You suggest that there are many who share these concerns. Is each family on its own or is there a collective voice for expressing concerns to the district?


6 people like this
Posted by VotingNoOnMeasureA
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 8, 2015 at 12:12 am

@Jerry - I had problems with a few different teachers for two of my three kids. None are special needs.

There are two reasons you don't see more evidence of such problems:

1) it's private. Most people don't want to publicly discuss when their kid has struggles - stigma, social pressure.

2) retaliation. When the teachers retaliate against your kid, it is terrible and destructive. If you go to the principal (at Jordan) nothing will be done to stop the retaliation , OR the original problems (homework overload, bullying by teacher)


Once you have experienced this sort of abuse directed at your child, you come to realize that speaking out has a very real cost for your kid.

That is why you don't hear about it. And why there is little record of the complaints - the principals bury this stuff.

You are left to sit in silence, or beat the teacher senseless and take the law into your own hands. In fact there is no law to protect children from the passive-aggressive retaliation happening. No law, no policy, no principal, no board or super will do anything.

I wish I had used violence in hind sight.

Vote No on Measure A


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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 8, 2015 at 5:55 am

Suggesting violence, even if intended to be a flippant remark, is irresponsible at the least.


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Posted by Posted above
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 9, 2015 at 8:23 am

VotingNo,
In addition to what you've expressed, escalating an issue to the district doesn't help, they are a CYA machine, mainly because of a few people, though that becomes the culture. One very common strategy is claim the parent bringing the concern is the only one, even if - especially if - they have a more serious complaint exactly like it from across town.

I wish on every one of the district personnel we've had to deal with ten thousand-fold what they have done to us, both goid and bad.

I leave it up to you to interpret whether that suggests violence. Please note I did not wish it on their families.


5 people like this
Posted by I can't remember the name I used
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 9, 2015 at 8:40 am

Please join me in sharing with Steve Levy's ridiculous blog the reasons you would support the parcel tax. Here are some suggestions:

1. I want my kid (but not yours!) to be able to take 16 AP classes and there are no limits.
2. I enjoy paying for the PR officer. Money well spent.
3. I think Max deserves a free trip to Singapore every year. He worked so hard in his first 6 months.
4. The test scores drive property values. Nose to the grindstone, kids!
5. Churchill street needs new carpeting.
6. The media arts center is not tall enough yet, I can still see the sky.
7. Until the OCR is reduced to rubble we must keep fighting,
[Portion removed.]
9. Kathleen Rucklesacker needs an assistant.
10. The website re-boot is a very high priority.


2 people like this
Posted by I can't remember the name I used
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 9, 2015 at 10:42 am

What do you have against a pony on a boat? Web Link


3 people like this
Posted by Undecided, leaning against A
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 9, 2015 at 11:16 am

Opar: I really agree with all your points.
"To get a yes vote on Measure A, the district needs to A) eliminate the academic zero period at Gunn and B) make teachers adhere to its already established homework policies. At that point, I'll consider voting for A.

...... Ideally, I'd like them to look at options for a third high school--it's going to have to be choice or charter because too many people buy or rent with a particular high school in mind, but I think a choice high school would work well in Palo Alto. "
I have 2 children in the District now in Elementary School,have had to hire a tutor for math since Everyday Math did not teach Basic Number Skills in early grades, have encountered way too much competitiveness in the Elem. School, had long conversations with K,1 teachers who were forced to follow the District Line against their professional judgement in what is developmentally appropriate curriculum at this age, encountered a few teachers who were not held accountable by the Principal for deficits in academic program and differentiating instruction.
So far it seems like hit or miss with some teachers and programs,......still in the System, but would really like some options for an alternative High School, a la Connections!
Interesting that Palo Alto added so many children this year, are they homeowners, renters, new developments feeding the schools. At our elementary school, lots of children left.....would love to see retention rates of each Elem. School, Middle School and High School. For families leaving there seems to always be more that want to come in, however the reasons for leaving need to be analyzed for trends.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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