With the school year over and a full school year with a new superintendent under its belt, the Palo Alto Board of Education will convene with Superintendent Max McGee this week to discuss the roles, communication protocols and goals for the next year during a two-day retreat.
The retreat will run from noon to 6 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday at The Westin Palo Alto hotel, with a facilitator also participating. The first day will be devoted to reviewing board protocol around communication with each other, with McGee, with staff and with the public. Part of the review will include discussion of the process for how items get placed on meeting agendas, which McGee said Monday "hasn't been followed with fidelity in the past."
McGee said he and the board will also discuss the roles and responsibilities of the board compared to the superintendent's, citing as an example his decision this spring to ban academic classes during early-morning zero period at Gunn High School.
The decision was communicated to students, staff and parents over spring break after writing to the board to suggest he make a recommendation. Some board members at the time described the decision as "disturbing," and lacking transparency during a debate over the superintendent's authority at a board meeting the following month.
McGee said Tuesday's retreat discussion will also touch on protocol around individual board member's requests to staff.
"Under what conditions can a staff member respond to an individual board member and under what conditions should it be a full-board request?" McGee said. "We've had a few instances of those issues arise this year."
During the second day of the retreat, the board and McGee will review the results of a strategic plan survey administered to both parents and students this year.
McGee said he will also be bringing several new goals for the 2015-16 year, many different from the six ambitious goals he brought to the board at the first retreat of the year in August. (The board ultimately adopted five of them.) McGee said several new goals came out of a workshop last week with his administrative team and also work with the district's leadership team.
At least two of the new goals will relate to the recent recommendations from McGee's minority achievement and talent development committee and forthcoming recommendations from a new enrollment management committee that is analyzing the possibility of opening a new school in the district. The district needs "to take some decisive action" on expanding its facilities in the coming year, McGee said.
Both days of the retreat are open to the public and will take place at The Westin, 675 El Camino Real. View the full agenda here.