News

Palo Alto superintendent makes recommendations on enrollment proposals

McGee: New task force should develop plan, model for a potential PK-12 campus

At the school board's first meeting of 2016, Palo Alto Unified Superintendent Max McGee will give his recommendations for how to proceed on at-times controversial enrollment proposals issued by a committee he created last year.

The final report of the Enrollment Management Advisory Committee (EMAC) will also be presented Tuesday night. Neither the group of 11 district parents, which split into subcommittees focused on elementary and secondary schools, nor McGee is recommending that new schools open, despite draft recommendations that pointed to the need.

McGee is recommending that the board approve the creation of an "inclusive, professionally facilitated" task force that would begin in February to "develop a comprehensive plan and proposed model for a PK-12 campus" that could take advantage of Cubberley Community Center in south Palo Alto as well as the adjacent district-owned sites at 525 San Antonio Road and 4120 Middlefield Road (Greendell School), McGee wrote in a report for Tuesday night's school board meeting.

This would be a hybrid school functioning as both a choice program and a neighborhood school, McGee wrote, and the task force's work would include "an assessment of the community desirability, determination of financial feasibility, details of environmental impact, and potential educational ramifications for present and future PAUSD students."

McGee suggests that the district assign a current administrator to serve as the task force's part-time project leader. At the enrollment committee's final meeting on Jan. 4, McGee said that several current secondary principals have indicated interest in taking on this position.

McGee is also proposing that the board support innovation at the district's existing middle and high schools. The board, he wrote, should "encourage, empower and incentivize the secondary schools principals, leadership teams, faculty and staff to design, develop, implement and evaluate innovative programs, services and supports that will increase student connectedness and authentic engagement, provide additional student choice, and enhance and deepen student learning."

These recommendations are aligned with the secondary subcommittee's recommendation to both explore the launch of a new school and improve current middle and high schools.

The secondary subcommittee's final recommendations have shifted since its first public presentation, from its bold — and very popular — initial idea to open a starkly different kind of secondary school in Palo Alto, to the same concept of a design task force. The task force would be made up of more diverse members, including educators and students rather than just parents, and take the baton from the subcommittee in evaluating next steps for the district.

The secondary subcommittee identified five "areas of focus" for the task force: "our middle schools are too big;" "our high schools are too big;" "our schools need to offer new learning pathways;" "our students crave more teacher + student engagement;" and "our agreement with the City specifies we work on Cubberley together, and soon."

The task force should evaluate several proposals the secondary subcommittee put on the table, from opening an innovative secondary school(s) at Cubberley or a fourth middle school to implementing school-within-a-school programs "more systemically" at the existing middle and high schools, the secondary group recommends.

"The creation of new secondary school is necessary but not sufficient," the secondary group's final report states. "We recommend a 'both/and' approach."

Ideas the secondary subcommittee says it does not favor include opening a new secondary school but not at Cubberley; expanding existing choice programs rather than starting new ones; and investing resources only on the current schools rather than spending it on a new school.

The secondary subcommittee's report does not address the status of an application its members co-wrote and submitted in November to a national education-reform competition without disclosing it to the public or board.

At the elementary level, McGee has made recommendations that address three primary issues identified by that subcommittee: where to place approximately 150 new elementary students set to enroll in Palo Alto Unified in 2017 from families moving into a new Stanford University housing development; how to cut down on the overflow of students to schools outside of their neighborhoods, the vast majority of which are in the southeast quadrant of the district; and how to provide more capacity and access to popular choice programs like Mandarin immersion at Ohlone Elementary.

McGee is recommending that the district assign the new Stanford-housing students to Nixon Elementary School as well as identify locations at Nixon for up to three portables, and plan on placing one or two on site beginning in the 2017-18 academic year. Nixon is the closest neighborhood school to the new Stanford housing project, with Escondido Elementary 0.2 miles farther away.

Also, aligned with the elementary subcommittee, McGee is proposing that the district implement a neighborhood preference option for existing choice programs. Neighborhood preference "provides a balance and prevents displacement," the elementary subcommittee's final report states.

The elementary subcommittee was not able to come to a consensus on recommending for or against the opening of a new school.

Three members of the elementary subcommittee, including former Palo Alto school board member Diane Reklis, penned a "minority report" that suggests the district does, in fact, need an additional elementary school. So for its final report on Tuesday, the elementary subcommittee prepared a set of next steps on each of the three primary issues it identified — Stanford housing, overflows and choice program capacity and access — depending on how the board elects to move forward.

The elementary subcommittee's only unanimous proposals are to implement neighborhood preference for all the choice programs and to redraw attendance area boundaries in the district's southeast quadrant and for Escondido in order to allow more students to attend their neighborhood school.

The entire Enrollment Management Advisory Committee first began its work almost a year ago, working for 10 months to answer perpetual questions in the district about growing enrollment and the capacity of the schools. The group conducted focus groups, surveys, research, data analysis, held meetings with site principals and presented their work in three previous board meetings this fall.

Though McGee had promised several town hall meetings to discuss EMAC's recommendations with the public, there will only be one next Wednesday, Jan. 20, 7-8:30 p.m. The meeting will also be streamed online via a webinar.

McGee is requesting board action at its next meeting on Jan. 26.

In other business Tuesday, the board will discuss the district's process for renaming facilities in light of a community petition to rename Jordan Middle School. The petition, started by a Jordan parent appalled when he discovered the school's namesake's participation in the eugenics movement, has garnered support from community members and school groups in recent weeks.

The board "will discuss the process for naming facilities and determine whether to have an action item at a future meeting that would establish a citizen advisory committee to consider renaming Jordan or other facilities," a staff report states.

The board meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the district office, 25 Churchill Ave. View the full agenda here.

Comments

20 people like this
Posted by Objectivity please
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 12, 2016 at 9:05 am

Weekly you need to check your reporter's lack of objectivity on reporting on the third high school proposal. This is one of many articles in which the "news" has been reported that the new high school proposal is "very popular" -- in fact I think that was an entire story. However, the only evidence for that broad statement is that the wealthy individuals including Mark Romer and Kevin Efrusy who are behind this proposal packed the board room with their supporters after launching a facebook page that included a "lobbying" kit and urging supporters to pack the board room. There were about 25 people in the boardroom supporting this proposal.

There are over 400 signers to the Save the 2008 proposals but I don't remember a story calling it the "very popular" proposal.

In fact, there is strong evidence in Romer's own EMAC survey that this proposal is wildly UNPOPULAR. In the EMAC survey, 75% of parents, when asked whether they want a new high school or improvements to Paly and Gunn chose the latter and do not want a new school. Furthermore, fewer than 7% of high school students surveyed believe that their schools are too big or too crowded. They want smaller classes and less homework, not a new school.

The idea that this is a "very popular" idea is simply the PR campaign for this giant waste of taxpayer dollars. Please report more objectively on this subject.


4 people like this
Posted by philosophical
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 12, 2016 at 9:16 am

" the district implement a neighborhood preference option for existing choice programs"

So the choice schools now become neighborhood schools with a different teaching philosophy as opposed to real choice schools anyone could potentially attend. With guaranteed access for neighborhood kids, there goes Ohlone & Hoover as choice programs. SI/MI will probably not change as much.


19 people like this
Posted by Barron Park dad
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 12, 2016 at 9:31 am

The complete EMAC secondary school report is here: Web Link

The report casts serious doubt on whether our two high schools can actually accommodate the District's stated capacity numbers of 2300 students each, despite recent capital investments from the bond program, of which only a small fraction was spent on expanding classroom capacity. At least without a lot of strenuous assumptions that result in a learning environment which is significantly worse than exists today. And the projected enrollment growth doesn't seem like a blip either, that can be temporarily fixed via portables.

The EMAC recommendations appears to have matured since their preliminary presentation to the Board a few months back. Previously they called for the Board to make decisions around opening a new middle and high school, and instituting smaller learning communities in our current secondary schools. Now, they seem to call for a follow-on Task Force to go deeper into their current findings, of which they list five.

They still believe a new middle and/or high school will be necessary, and they still believe SLCs are the right thing to do, but they agree that the best path forward is to get a more inclusive Task Force to examine their 5 findings in greater detail. And come back to the Board in mid-2016. I agree that opening up the next phase of work to a broader group of parents, students, teachers and administrators seems like a reasonable idea.

I hope PAUSD Board goes forward with EMAC's request for a follow-on Task Force. Why not? Seems the work is not yet done. Part of me is concerned that a conservative bias will take over and lead to the Board thinking that "well, our schools are plenty good enough so we will just do things the way they have been done over the past __ years".


19 people like this
Posted by Barron Park dad
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 12, 2016 at 9:40 am

To "objectivity please":

You are factually incorrect in making the comment that "in the EMAC survey, 75% of parents, when asked whether they want a new high school or improvements to Paly and Gunn chose the latter and do not want a new school."

Actually, if you look at page 111 of the complete EMAC report, their parents survey actually asks two questions: "(1) If the district did offer more choice programs, I would likely send my student to such a program, and (2) If the district were to expand such programs in our middle and high schools, would you prefer that the program be delivered at a new expansion campus, or as a school within an existing school?"

In other words, the 25% / 75% answer was ONLY in the context of whether choice programs should be _located_ in existing schools or new schools. Let's be careful to keep the survey answer in context.

The complete EMAC report is here: Web Link


24 people like this
Posted by Objectivity please
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 12, 2016 at 9:49 am

This recommendation for a new school is a Trojan Horse for undoing years of board policies requiring equal funding per student and will kill PIE. The new high school will provide a fundamentally better, non-comparable education with smaller class sizes and greater per student spending. This violates two sets of board policies. First, the district cannot spend more per student on one school than another on basic curriculum. Second, by policy (after years of hard-fought battles) individual per school fundraising from private sources is banned. This is the "stuff not staff" requirement on PTA fundraising. How many of you have heard the saying "PIE pays for staff, PTA pays for stuff"? Well that was the result of years of PTAs paying for staff and having a better education available at richer schools.

In 2002, the board passed a k-12 staffing policy that specifically barred those inequalities and required districtwide fundraising for staff. The result was PIE. Now the EMAC committee has launched a stealth attack on PIE, by proposing a school that is so lavish and so high touch and that will depend on what it describes in VC gobbledy-speak as "net-new revenue from private sources for OPEX."

Please, allow me to decode. This is parent fundraising for staffing at a single school. 90% or more of "OPEX" (operating expense) for any school is staffing and everyone knows it.

Right now, PIE dollars are distributed equally on a per-capita basis across the district and per student funding between the two high schools is equal. The EMAC committee is trying to upend this compromise by allowing their private dollars to influence this system.

McGee is all for it [portion removed.] Anyone who heard him gushing about "ted talk quality research" and "VC presentations" felt both embarrassed for him and scared for what is happening here.

We don't need this kind of destructive force. We have a set of well-considered hard-fought policies that ensure equality and comparability for all students and all schools. If those controls are removed for a single school they will fall alway for all schools and the result will be a return to the bad old days of every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost.

This proposal is a proposal for the privatization of our public schools. Whatever they say in the meeting -- that's what is really going on behind the scenes. [Portion removed] supporters are [portion removed] trying to undo equality and comparability among our schools and students in order to have their way with the PAUSD school system.

Once we allow private wealth to influence decisionmaking and curriculum like this there will be no getting this Genie back into the bottle.


14 people like this
Posted by Objectivity please
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 12, 2016 at 10:02 am

@barron park.

On page 114 of the EMAC report there is a slide entitled "NEW SCHOOL OR NOT" in great big letters.

That is the title of your own slide.

The answer: no new school by a huge margin. Instead, 75% of parents said that they would prefer any new program be located inside our existing school rather than build a new school. Web Link

If the school board allows this travesty to go forward despite the opposition of 75% of parents, then anyone of them voting for it should be tossed out of office. This is not only a giant waste of taxpayer bond money, it represents a breach of faith with the community over fundamental fairness and policies of equity.

When PIE is dead and Walter Hays is back to raising millions for its special teacher salaries and Addison looks like the Dean and Delucca Elementary School, remember this moment [portion removed.]


17 people like this
Posted by Barron Park dad
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 12, 2016 at 10:02 am

To "objectivity please":

Again, the final report clearly states on slide #9 (the Recommendations section) that the follow-on Task Force must strictly adhere to the rule of "parity spend per student" throughout the District. It is there in black and white. Absolutely no Trojan Horse; nothing about circumventing PiE.

Please stick to what the EMAC committee actually said, as opposed to pointing to fears not in evidence.


16 people like this
Posted by Barron Park dad
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 12, 2016 at 10:08 am

Responding again to "objectivity please":

Again, on pages 111 and 114 of the EMAC final report, the 25% / 75% answer was ONLY in the context of whether choice programs should be _located_ in existing schools or new schools.

The parents were asked: "(1) If the district did offer more choice programs, I would likely send my student to such a program, and (2) If the district were to expand such programs in our middle and high schools, would you prefer that the program be delivered at a new expansion campus, or as a school within an existing school?"

Come on, it is pretty plain as day that this is NOT the same thing as 75% of parents wanting to oppose a new school.


10 people like this
Posted by Objectivity please
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 12, 2016 at 10:13 am

@barron park

Really. Well here's a few pieces of evidence that sentence you quoted is false.

1. The XQ proposal for 2 million a year over 5 years private donation for operating expenses. Do you plan to dump that $10 million into the district general fund or hand it over to PIE? If so, then the proposal (which is being pursued by parents, already a violation of district policy in itself as it is school-based fundraising for a single school) is itself false and misleading to the Emerson Collective.

2. The many many many statements in your own proposals hyping private funding to supplement district funding for this new school including the following:

January 6 proposal: Web Link

Page 50
Funding sources • Major local funders are ready to participate in a bold and innovative secondary initiatives in PA • These are net-new sources of capital that the district has not tapped in the past, and are noncompetitive with existing funding sources for the district

page 52
(pros of a new school)
Private funding sources + District fund

page 57
Idea -- CLASS SIZE: Spend $$$ on reducing class size SCHOOL WITHIN A SCHOOL: Enhance student connectedness through academies or houses or other forms of small learning communities
Cons: District will forgo ability to attract net-new funding

page 59 (open 4th middle school)
Cons: New private funding may only be available in conjunction with high school creation or re-design.

November EMAC SSS Report:

page 4, design task force should "Create a budget plan for operating and capital, including sourcing new private funding

page 8:
We are confident that EMAC’s recommendations can be financed creatively to address key budgetary concerns EMAC perspective ... The school board and district administration should provide – as input to the DTF – guidance on the upper limit of district funds that can be used towards achieving the recommendations • The DTF will then design solutions and return to the school board and administration with a financing plan and options – both for capital costs and operating costs – by June 2016

Page 17, why have private funding
Private funding sources + District funds = more program options for all of our students.

October 26, 2015 presentation
page 40, task for the design task force: "Identify new private funding sources to mitigate operating and capital budget impact"

page 47:
"Funding sources • Major local funders are ready to participate in a bold and innovative secondary initiatives in PA • These are net-new sources of capital that the district has not tapped in the past, and are noncompetitive with existing funding sources for the district"

Please stop misleading the public. THIS IS A WOLF IN SHEEP'S CLOTHING. IT"S NOT EVEN IN SHEEP'S CLOTHING. IT'S JUST A WOLF.

This is a proposal to spend more per student. If you didn't spend more per student through private funding (as the above documents) your school would not have many takers [portion removed.] The idea of private fundraising isn't a theory --it's a fact and it has already begun with XQ and with promises being made behind closed doors and openly discussed as above.

The wolf is not at the door, it's in the room.



17 people like this
Posted by PIE supporter
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 12, 2016 at 10:44 am

Wow, "objectivity" thank you for collecting all those examples. I did not see the pattern before but it is pretty worrisome. I am a PIE supporter. This school has to fundraise through PIE only like everyone else. I certainly do not think it should have its own revenue stream from private donors. You are totally right -- that's what Walter Hays used to do. As a veteran of the 2000's work to establish the District Fundraising Organization, I would never want to do anything to undo that hard work.

This is giving me a lot to think about.


15 people like this
Posted by Paly dad
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 12, 2016 at 1:35 pm

I thought the whole point of the construction that is going on and the bond money was to expand the high schools to handle the new enrollment? Is the superintendent saying that we need another bond for another high school before this money is even spent? This seems awfully thin to me. My daughter has complaints about Paly but too many students isn't one of them.


4 people like this
Posted by Committee
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 12, 2016 at 1:56 pm

Only concern with Superintendent's proposal for a new Committee with a facilitator is the facilitator will work for him, and have to follow his directions. This could steer the Committee to his conclusions. Or at least, there will be that temptation.


15 people like this
Posted by Barron Park dad
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 12, 2016 at 2:30 pm

To "paly dad" - The fact that $200M was spend on our high schools and only a minority fraction was spent on expanding classroom capacity was a real eye-opener for me when I read the final EMAC report. See pages 26-29. This is worth digging deeper into.

To "committee" - You make a very valid point. There must be a way to make the next Task Force facilitator more impartial to avoid what you call 'steering' by the Superintendent. Say what you will about the current EMAC composition, but at least those 12 or 13 parents were not working directly for the Superintendent.


14 people like this
Posted by PIE supporter
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 12, 2016 at 2:43 pm

Barron Park dad, you don't seem to be answering our concerns about PIE and private fundraising. First you said that the proposal called for no additional spending then when it was pointed out to you in detail that the proposal of the EMAC calls for additional private fundraising for this individual school you did not respond. Please respond to that concern as you appear to be very in the know about the EMAC.

Palo Alto is passionate about PIE and about not allowing individual per school fundraising for operating expenses. You need to answer the question posed -- it is a very important question.

Also perhaps you can respond to the fact that the PAEA has come out with serious reservations and concerns about this high school proposal.


11 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 12, 2016 at 2:54 pm

@Barron Park Dad
You say that the EMAC individuals were not working for the superintendent, yet he endorsed the alternative 6-12 plan and signed onto the XQ proposal without any public discussion or board approval. That was a very serious over reach.


16 people like this
Posted by Barron Park dad
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 12, 2016 at 2:55 pm

Let me start by saying I love PiE, the way it works, the way it is structured.

Secondly, I never said that opening a new school -- whether elementary, middle or high school -- won't require any new funding. That is beyond ludicrous. How can that be from a math perspective?

Rather, what I said is that the EMAC recommendation clearly states (on Page 9) that operating spend per student at the new school or schools must be at parity with the rest of the District. Again, that makes complete sense and is only fair.

And unless I misunderstand something about the EMAC recommendations (which BTW I'm not personally associated with, but I fully support), it doesn't jeopardize that Board policy and community value whatsoever.

According to your logic, anytime the Board tries to open a new school by leveraging outside private funding, it will run afoul of both PiE and Board policy. Again, that is ludicrous. Ask your elected Board member whether that is true.


18 people like this
Posted by Barron Park dad
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 12, 2016 at 3:00 pm

To 'parent' - I agree the XQ process was a mess. The communication and the transparency could have been far better. But if the Board wanted to withdraw the application, they could. And they haven't despite the brouhaha.

So take up your concern with your local Board member, if you feel this is important enough.

I personally don't have any issue with local citizens standing in line to apply for free school money for my town. I wish the transparency was better between the Superintendent and the Board, but I don't criticize the parents for making the attempt.


10 people like this
Posted by Taxpayer
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jan 12, 2016 at 3:06 pm

What does "operating spend per student" mean? Total spending per student from all sources including donations? Or just money from the district?


9 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 12, 2016 at 4:23 pm

@BP Dad
My comment was about whether the EMAC was independent from the superintendent. It appears that the half of the EMAC who were driving to XQ proposal were in close collaboration with the superintendent and that he stepped outside of his authority in signing onto their proposal. Going forward, the board may need to take control of the process since the superintendent has gone from apparent bias to a given outcome to actual endorsement, all outside of a public process and without endorsement or even knowledge of the board that he ostensibly reports to.
You say that the board could have withdrawn the XQ application. How would that happen since it was not their application. It was submitted by a self organized group who also comprised half of the EMAC. THe superintendent lent his endorsement to the application without knowledge of the board and in apparent violation of official policy.
Also, you tell PIE supporter to take up our concerns with the board. I think that you have it backwards. As it stands board policy is aligned with our concerns. You would need to take up your support for new a different policies with the board if you wish for your outcome to occur.


9 people like this
Posted by Barron Park dad
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 12, 2016 at 5:16 pm

To "parent",

It sounds like your beef with the XQ process is with the Superintendent. So talk to the Board.

And it also sounds like you are trying to have it both ways: if indeed the Board doesn't own the XQ application (since according to you they cannot withdraw it), then why are you so worried that a set of Palo Alto parents submitted the application independent of the Board? But on the other hand if the Board can indeed control the destiny of the XQ application, then they can simply issue the Superintendent a reprimand on the poor XQ communication process and immediately withdraw from the XQ competition. But it is super-confusing for you to try to have it both ways.

As far as PiE, there is nothing in our district policies nor community values that says the District cannot accept private outside funding for capital expenditures. I already said I'm a PiE supporter. If you think accepting private outside funding jeopardizes the existence of PiE, then talk to a Board member to clarify if your assertion is remotely true. Because I simply don't think it is true.


4 people like this
Posted by PIE Supporter
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 12, 2016 at 5:30 pm

Why are you claiming it's only capital when the documents cited and quoted above by "objectivity" that the new school will seek and accept private funding for operating expenditures. Seems misleading.


9 people like this
Posted by Barron Park dad
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 12, 2016 at 5:43 pm

To "PiE supporter" -

I obviously can't read minds. You should ask the EMAC to clarify if they meant outside funding for capital only or for both capital and operating expenses. I suspect capital only because it's hard for me to imagine an outside donor agreeing to fund ongoing operating expenses via an endowment. (But perhaps I am mistaken if someone wins the $1.3 billion lottery tonight and wishes to donate it to PAUSD.)

All the more reason to pursue the follow-on Task Force that EMAC recommended to explore the full range of ideas. Notice the local "opposition" group is supportive of the same idea: i.e., commission a follow-on Task Force. Hear hear.


3 people like this
Posted by Objectivity please
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 12, 2016 at 6:49 pm

No body is asking that you read minds. It would be good if you read documents though. The EMAC reports are full of statements about private fundraising for operating expenses. Those are all cited above. You have not responded to those.Rather you have pretended that they aren't there.

For example the October 26, 2015 EMAC presentation states that the design task force will: "Identify new private funding sources to mitigate operating and capital budget impact." (page 40).

Do you see the problem that this kind of fundraising presents? Please respond.




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Posted by Objectivity please
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 12, 2016 at 7:51 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 12, 2016 at 8:23 pm

@ BPD
It would be helpful if you would either gain a sense of obligation to inform yourself of the facts or stop making such erroneous miss representations.
The board's inability to withdraw an applications that was submitted by a third party group is self evident and not based on me claimed it.
My comments about the inappropriate involvement of the superintendent's unauthorized participation in the XQ application were in response to your statements about how a subsequent EMAC could be adequately independent. I do not need you to tell me whether I should be able to make those assertions on this thread or whether I should be limited to making them directly to the board. I can walk and chew gum, can you?


7 people like this
Posted by Strategy
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 12, 2016 at 10:45 pm

Strategically speaking, it is far wiser for the board to give any new money to a new school.

It is far better to fund new staff who can internalize the board and community goals around homework, engagement and stress.

In contrast, throwing that same money at existing staff who have shown themselves incapable of change is just flushing money and opportunity for real change down the drain.

Always use funds to support your organizations who show a willingness to tackle hard problems, internalize your big picture goals, and aggressively seek change and self improvement.

NEVER grow a broken organization.




15 people like this
Posted by Objectivity please
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 12, 2016 at 11:27 pm

Everyone here has some very serious misunderstandings about who is going to staff the new school if it is built.

The current teachers are going to staff it. When you move 600 students to the new school, you move the jobs to the new school. You can't hire new teachers and fire the redundant ones. You have to move them.Under union rules, if their job moves to another school, they have the opportunity to move. This means 2 things. First of all, despite the fantasy, this is not going to be a brand new school staffed by brand new people. It will be staffed from Paly and Gunn.

Second, that means that every creative, innovative and good teacher at Paly and Gunn will want to move to the new school. That will create a brain drain in which the 3700 remaining students at Paly and Gunn will have the worst teaches left to them. So we will have made things WORSE at our existing schools as well as drained money, time, and attention away from helping them.

So please -- all these fantasies about extra funding and "net-new" flimflammery...that isn't going to happen. You are getting the same teachers in a different building and siphon money and resources away from Paly and Gunn.


8 people like this
Posted by It's the Charter
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 12, 2016 at 11:34 pm

Let's be perfectly clear. There are very rich people, involved with the XQ/Wayfarer project, who want to donate to support higher spend per student at a new school. They have approached various people, including board members, to pitch this concept. They appear to think that so long as they just top-up district funds for their school, it is fair since other students aren't hurt. Yes, it flies in the face of district equity policy; they simply disagree with the principle.

To hear Max defer to a future committee in terms of evaluating funding options tells you what you need to know. He just wants his super-school, and isn't especially concerned about Palo Alto community values. The EMAC was the same until they got told how off-base they were; they have backpedaled hard, but what does it matter? They work is done, they are disbanded - on to the next committee, which Max will drive.

This is why the charter school risk is so high here. A "public" school, with its own program, in a district facility, with base funding from the district, topped up by private donations - that's what a charter school looks like, folks. By allowing this process to go forward, Max is enabling the future charter showdown.


10 people like this
Posted by Objectivity please
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 12, 2016 at 11:45 pm

I thought Dauber did a good job at the board meeting laying out the problem with private funding. It was good that Dauber asked McGee to commit to follow board policy and not allow any private fundraising for staff at the new school and I was SHOCKED when McGee refused to commit to follow the policy.

[Portion removed.] I don't think McGee has any intention based on tonight of following the board direction on this. He's going to push this all the way and based on what we have seen thus far he will probably just do it and tell the Board about it later. Or never. They can find out when they see it on facebook.


10 people like this
Posted by It's the Charter
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 12, 2016 at 11:49 pm

@BPD - Note that Max did not propose a task force to "explore a full range of ideas." Far from it. He asked for a group "to develop a comprehensive plan and proposed model for a PK-12 campus [at Cubberley] as a hybrid choice/neighborhood site." That's not "exploring a full range of ideas" - that exploring ONE idea in exhaustive detail.

Wake up! Max has a vision for McGee Academy and is working to achieve it. The Board is just an obstacle to overcome; the community is just a tool to leverage; rich boosters are just funding sources to be milked. This doesn't make him a bad person (though he might be the wrong superintendent), but we need to be honest with ourselves about the situation we are in and act accordingly. Thank you Melissa and Ken for taking a firm stance!


8 people like this
Posted by Is the superintendent testing the Board?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2016 at 12:29 am

The Superintendent is supposed to serve the district--not to fulfill his or some private donor's personal vision.

Twice recently I have been surprised the Board did not call out his insubordination and carelessness with regard to established policy (for instance, when he signed a grant application for a project the Board had not approved.). Dear Board, you are being tested by your subordinate. How will you respond? If you don't check this behavior, it will escalate. It appears to be escalating now.


2 people like this
Posted by Strategy
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 13, 2016 at 7:03 am

@Objectivity - if it takes a Charter school to get the boards goals into the staff heads; then I have just become a huge fan of the Charter.

You claim teachers will just move within the district.

Is that true if the new school is a charter?



NEVER grow a broken organization.


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