Update: At its Aug. 27 meeting, the Board of Education approved funding for new positions in school safety. Read the story here.
With school safety as a top priority for the Palo Alto school district this year, the Board of Education will consider on Tuesday a staff request to allocate upwards of $200,000 in ongoing funds for two new full-time positions to oversee security and emergency preparedness.
The board approved in March job descriptions for the two positions: a safety, security and disaster preparedness manager and a risk management and safety technician. The manager would oversee all of the district's security efforts, including evaluating and updating procedures at campuses, and be the point of contact with law enforcement, fire department and other public safety agencies in the case of emergencies. The estimated salary range for this position is $133,850 to $186,000.
The technician's responsibilities include working with insurance brokers for workers' compensation, processing injury reports, obtaining documentation for claims and managing training for employees.
Campus safety is identified as a high-level goal in Superintendent Don Austin's PAUSD Promise, a three-year districtwide plan.
"We are taking a proactive approach towards a culture of preparedness and effective emergency response planning," Deputy Superintendent Karen Hendricks wrote in a staff report on the new positions, which the board will consider at its Tuesday meeting. "The success of any emergency management program is measured in very simple terms: how prepared we are for an incident, and how well we can we manage it."
The district plans to start making changes at campuses based on the recommendations of an insurance firm hired to assess safety at all schools. A summary of a report compiled by the firm will be discussed at an October board meeting, Austin said.
Students and staff will also be asked in the coming months to participate in a series of drills to prepare for earthquakes, fires, shootings and other emergencies. The district has been careful to note that there will be no active shooter simulations.
Staff are also asking the board to approve on Tuesday additional funds to hire two full-time and two part-time family engagement specialists whose jobs have been redesigned to provide targeted coaching and support to minority and low-income students. Once meant to serve as bridges between schools and disconnected families, the engagement specialists are now meant to operate as case managers who "provide intensive advising to students who are at risk of poor school outcomes," Assistant Superintendent of Equity and Student Affairs Lana Conaway wrote in a staff report.
They will be tasked with supporting students with academic work and graduation as well as behavior, attendance, and other social-emotional "barriers that may interfere with school success," Conaway wrote. They will track students' progress and meet with students frequently.
With elementary students, the specialists will focus on the whole family, while the focus at middle and high schools is on targeted support with a "moderate focus on families," the report reads.
The full-time position has a salary range of about $107,400 to about $126,800 and part-time, about $31,200 to $36,000.
In other business Tuesday, the board will hear an update from Austin on the district and city of Palo Alto's lease agreement for Cubberley Community Center. As the lease's Dec. 31 expiration date approaches, the district and city are still not seeing eye to eye on the Cubberley redevelopment process.
"Absent a successor agreement or extension, the current lease reverts to a month-to-month agreement. It is our intent to avoid this scenario," Austin wrote in an update to the school board last week.
The Tuesday, Aug. 27, board meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the district office, 25 Churchill Ave. View the agenda here.
The district recently created a tentative list of agenda items for future board meetings for the entire school year. View it here.