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Next PAUSD School Board President?

Original post made by School Board Observer, Barron Park, on Nov 28, 2006

Every elected school board member should serve as president of the school board during their elected term. I hope Gail Price has the chance to serve as our PAUSD school board president next year which i understand may be her last year. She has been VP before but was unable to assume the presidency due to the responsibilities of her day job. I hope she can make time for it this year as we could really use her strong leadership skills, direct communications style and experience to lead the PAUSD school board.

Comments (27)

Posted by RWE
a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 29, 2006 at 12:42 am

I second this motion! Gail Price has shown real leadership and courage in recent PAUSD events, but even more importantly has consistently been one of the most thoughtful members of the BOE in recent BOE history.

I haven't always agreed with GP's positions, but she's always been clear in providing rationales for what she supports (and doesn't support), while providing a measured voice on the board that authentically does its best to represent everyone the BOE represents, equally.

Gail Price a rare find; if she has the time and desire, she should certainly be the primary choice for BOE Presidency.

Posted by Board Observer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 29, 2006 at 10:59 am

I third. I appreciate Gail's level headed approach, clear and straight forward communication style, her consistency between word and action, and her continual strive for the facts and supported decision making.

Posted by CP
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Nov 29, 2006 at 12:11 pm

I fourth. I've excerpted statements from the Bylaws of the Board, below, to show what the duties of the president are. As you see, there are several cases where the president makes decisions in conjunction with the superintendent. Since our superintendent is currently under investigation, it is appropriate that the president's position be filled by someone who has demonstrated that she can think and act independently. That person would be Gail.

Reimbursement for Expenses: Members of the Board may be reimbursed for all necessary expenses incurred in bona fide School Board business. Each Board member shall be provided with a budget by the Board President and Superintendent. Additional funds may be authorized by the President or Superintendent.

Duties of President: The president shall preside at all meetings, decide on questions of order, appoint Board members to committees, unless otherwise ordered by the Board, and hold the same rights as other members, such as voting, introducing motions and resolutions and discussing questions that come before the Board.

Special Meetings: Special meetings may be called at any time by the president or by any three members of the Board.

Agenda: Selection of items and order of the agenda shall be determined by the Superintendent in consultation with the Board President.

A citizen may place an item on the Board agenda by submitting a written request and supporting information to the Superintendent’s Office. The Superintendent, in consultation with the Board President and Vice President, will determine at which upcoming regular Board meeting the item will be scheduled.

Communications from Public: Care should be exercised by the Board and the Superintendent to include on the agenda only those items of significance or community concern. In unusual circumstances or when the question is of some urgency, the Board president and the Superintendent may decide to answer the question at the time it is first presented to the Board.

Procedural Guidelines-At Meetings: The Board president may provide time for audience comment on agenda items after their presentation and before action is taken.

Full bylaws are available at: Web Link

Posted by natasha
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 29, 2006 at 12:21 pm

I definitely endorse Gail's appointment or election.

Posted by Pauline
a resident of Juana Briones School
on Nov 29, 2006 at 12:58 pm

Thanks for bringing this up!!! I completely support this. Gail has been offered it at least twice before, but turned it down, as you said, cuz she didn't think she could do a good job with it with the level of responsiblities she had otherwise. But, I would sure love to see her give it a shot, since it is last year. Anybody know if we can help this along? Or are we completely out of this loop?

I have only come to know her by watching her comments and how she thinks over the last 6 months of going to Board Meetings when I can, and I agree, she is a thorough analyzer and bases her decisions on sound and consistent philosophies. I have not agreed with everything she has said, nor with some of her personal priorities for our District, but I have completely respected how she came to her conclusions, and because of this she has caused me to reflect on my own.

By the way, I realize that ME saying this is suspect, given that I also agreed with how she thought and therefore voted when it came to Mandarin Immersion. However, I mean everything sincerely. She establishes firm and consistent foundations and keeps her eye on the goals and priorities of the District in everything she does.

Posted by Gunn Parent
a resident of Gunn High School
on Dec 1, 2006 at 7:49 pm

I completely agree with the hope that Gail prevails. I think that someone who has consistently had the voice of common sense on the board, versus the person who has seen the district through wholly unjustified rose colored glasses, is the best fit.

As we transition Superintendents, we really need a strong, sensible, practical leader of the school board. In my view THAT'S GAIL; it's not the other candidate.

Posted by Mom of two
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 2, 2006 at 12:07 pm

I'm fairly new to the district and have two children in school here - Paly and Jordan. I've observed several board meetings and also impressed with Gail. How is the president chosen? And is the other candidate Camille? Because it is her turn? Any info would be appreciated.

Posted by Pauline
a resident of Juana Briones School
on Dec 2, 2006 at 3:29 pm

Now, esp. with the resignation of Dr. Callan, would be the time to speak up at an open forum concerning the next President of the Board.

I would think whoever that is would have tremendous influence on the process we go through in selecting the next Super.

I think the next President and VP are elected by the Board alone, not the public, and I think that it is on Dec 12 this year. I would assume it should go to the person who has the most experience on the Board but has yet to take the post of President. But, who knows how the Board will vote? Camille is VP, so maybe they will think that the Presidency should naturally fall on her, and not think about it in terms of Gail being the next logical choice by experience.

Maybe a few sentences concerning this issue from some of the public at the Open Forum this Tuesday would be well timed for the Board to reflect on before their vote the 12th.

Posted by Wolf
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 2, 2006 at 5:20 pm

The board elects the president and the VP from amongst themselves at their sole discretion. The position is for a year. By tradition it rotates among all board members, and by tradition the current VP is the natural choice for next presidency. Gail, serving as a VP, requested not to be nominated twice(?) in the past as an exception, since she had other time consuming obligations and felt she would not do justice to the job.

Public speaking to he issue is probably counterproductive as it will antagonize everyone while having little impact. Private lobbying of the board members, on the other hand, may have some impact. But in truth it seems that nothing the general public will say will have any impact. The board members know each other much more that the general public does, so why would one expect them to change their mind because some casual lobbying call or 3 minutes worth of public comment? I know that, unless a miracle happened, I wouldn't.

Posted by Faith
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 2, 2006 at 6:25 pm

I agree with the several people who just posted re Gail Price being the next president of the Board of Education. The Board is dealing with several important issues and it desperately needs someone who has a lot of experience on the Board. Gail would be excellent. She is calm, logical, and has good judgement. She has the most experience. I believe that she would be the best person for this position.

Posted by Tulley
a resident of El Carmelo School
on Dec 3, 2006 at 9:04 am

I sort of like Price where she is instead of pounding the gavel and calling for votes. I like that she speaks her mind and votes her convictions and is doing her best to call out when the emperor has no clothes. Does the BOE president have any special powers or influence which would enhance Ms Price's position on this board, other than getting to pound the gavel and carry the title?

Posted by curious
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 3, 2006 at 10:33 am

Hi Tulley - I'm sure there are many other duties of the pres, but what comes to mind as the most important is the agenda setting piece. I think Gail is crucial here. She understands the value of parent and staff time, doesn't speak forever and because she is one of us working stiffs might get these meetings under control. Making key personel and policy decision before 11pm would be such a wonderful chnage!

Posted by CP
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Dec 4, 2006 at 10:37 am

I second curious's comments about running more efficient board meetings so those who are interested can attend and participate without having to hang out at 25 Churchill until midnight.

Also please note that the duties of the board president as defined in the board's bylaws are given in an earlier comment on this thread.

Finally, it appears that Dana Tom has become the swing voter, and I suspect that his will be the deciding vote for president as well. He needs to hear from us. You can contact him at or 321-4506. Do it soon, because I believe the election takes place next Tuesday, Dec. 12.

Posted by BoardWatcher
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Dec 7, 2006 at 7:17 pm

I also agree with curious. Have you ever noticed how much Ms. Townsend goes on and on in her comments? The entire Board has never respected the discipline of an agenda, and Ms. Townsend is the worst in this area.

I really hope Ms. Price is elected President because I think she'd do a much better job of leading the board than Ms. Townsend. (I actually think Ms. Mitchell will make an outstanding board president.)

Posted by CP
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Dec 12, 2006 at 1:33 pm

There will be a new president pounding the gavel tonight after the BoE elects a successor to Mandy Lowell. This person will be setting the agenda during a tumultuous time in our district: An investigation of senior cabinet management practices, a search for a new superintendent, attendance area review, possible implementation of MI, the Los Altos Hills redistricting possibility... I'm sure I've forgotten something.

There are still a few hours left in the day to make your feelings known about who that person should be, by sending an email to any or all of the following:

Posted by Nauseated
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 13, 2006 at 2:25 pm

Well, that was an interesting "election" last night, wasn't it? Clearly orchestrated, with a mutual "scratch my back and I will scratch yours" theme: clearly lots of behind the scenes phone calls to make sure it all went smoothly in public.

Watching the faces was interesting. Doesn't take much to figure out what that was all about. Here is my guess, not being able to read minds but "trying" ( I am sure I will get called on this, but oh well, I am nauseated)..Camille promised Dana that he could be her VP if he votes for her for President. Mandy felt compelled to nominate Camille because it would be too publically awkward to NOT nominate the person who has been her VP. Barb was very uncomfortable, trying to decide between possibly alienating the next President by nominating Gail, (someone she knows is the best choice for the Presidency of this Board, the only person with the experience and the guts to get us through the next year), and "playing nice". The urge to "go along" was strong, in order to keep her from being dismissed and talked down to by Camille, and often the others, like Gail is ( happened several times last night, notice?). Barb has already started to learn what it is like to be a voice of analysis on this Board, and shut out. How many times already have she and Gail thought alike,only to be frozen out? I am sure it is a horrible feeling. Though I can understand the position she was in, I am still disappointed that she didn't have enough strength to speak out and force Camille to make a speech to her colleagues stating why she should be president, so that the public could hear the members defend why they want her for Board president, and not Gail.

I can't help but wonder if the "3", Mandy, Camille and Dana, just really didn't want to have their feet held to the fire, like Gail would have done. Gail is the only one on that Board with the school board experience and the professional policy planning experience to do this. They would have had to watch Dr. Cook and her staff being held to a higher standard than they are now, to be thorough and accountable in their reporting. This would have forced the Board to defend their votes on data. Or maybe they didn't want to be asked to shape up and be run like a professional Board, by actually following the plans and policies we have in place. Gail would have been able to frame issues in a way that would have been consistent with all of our policies and goals developed so far, and this would have been uncomfortable for them to dispute. Or, it would have forced the hard work of actually changing the plans and policies BEFORE reacting to some new idea that doesn't fit the old plans and policies.

I am sure someone is going to say "We have to trust the Board to know who is best for the job of President" and ask me what do I know and tell me how nice it must be to know everything etc but I don't care, I am nauseated.

Posted by Nauseated, too
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 13, 2006 at 2:56 pm

Did you see the Weekly quote online this morning from Lowell about Townsend not talking too much... "I think she'd be very good at being brief"? Ohmigod. What a brilliant strategy - absolutely no proof to date of that and still asserted as fact. Also last night, her questions to Marilyn/Becki about which form of Mandarin will be taught were an absolute waste of time. I think just about the only thing worse than Camille being president will be one year from now when Mr "I can't make up my mind and I can't think for myself so I'll just go along with Mandy and Camille" goes for the presidency...

I really wish I could support this board and this district - but recently there are too many reasons not to. If they ever want to pass another bond or parcel tax they will have to dig up a new set of naive suckers to do all the work. I know a whole bunch of disgusted folks who will not be duped again.

PS to nauseated - I think you nailed the "process". What a travesty.

Posted by Nauseated three
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Dec 13, 2006 at 3:33 pm

I couldn't go to the meeting last night, but I was also nauseated to find out in PA Online this morning that, as if it wasn't bad enough that Camille was elected president, Dana became Veep. Didn't see that coming, I'm sorry to say. I was also deeply disappointed in Barb for going along with those choices. Nauseated one's likely scenario helped clarify things a little, but I also agree with "too" that I'm not going to be pounding pavement and manning phone banks next time the district needs to pass a bond or parcel tax.

No use crying over spilled milk, though, the thing to do now is focus on the 2007 election. Although the board has no official term limits, there's a sort of gentleman's agreement of a two term maximum. So we will have Mandy's and Gail's seats to fill, and Camille will be up for reelection (if she chooses to run). So let's start identifying candidates with the wisdom, insight, strength of character, understanding of our district, and all the other qualities that are important in a good school board member, so we have some real choices to make.

I'd like to take another look at Claude Ezran, who lost to Dana last year but in retrospect seems like he might have been a better choice. Hindsight is 20/20 they say.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 13, 2006 at 4:29 pm

Well if we value our district, I think we better get on that campaign 2007 candidate issue ASAP - because you bet your sweet potato PiE that Grace Mah has got her campaign money making machine rolling to bring in another 2-3 MI puppet supporters (to match Camille, Dana, and ???), to make sure we'll never see the light of day on reasonable decision making again.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 13, 2006 at 4:35 pm

And I wouldn't be surprised one bit if she's already submitted her 'short list' of Supertintendents (and Finance Managers) from whom which she will allow the board to pick our next superintendent.

And folks wonder why disclosure and full transparency of financial support to public entities is important. Well, you're about to find out...

Posted by Parent 2
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 13, 2006 at 4:45 pm

I was thinking the same about Ezran myself. As I remember, he was on the languages for all elementary, campaigning, which as that time seemed far out. Shows how wrong we all were. He did seem to lack the drive and energy of the other two, but politicians often show a charisma while campaigning that is non-existing in office. His drive for languages may have made him a better advocate for FLES and against MI. I would like to hear his views on MI,and what he thinks about languages at present in the secondary schools.

Posted by Wolf
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 13, 2006 at 5:29 pm

The racist undertones in many of the MI comments on Palo Alto Townsquare and yesterday's public comments were very obvious, and they come loud and clear yet again in today's reference above to Grace Mah. Unfortunately, they were also present yesterday in Gail's reference to "those [MI] people who can afford to purchase it [private school? language?] individually". One can object to MI on substantive basis without resorting to racism, yet we clearly failed at this. As Palo Altan I am deeply ashamed of this.

The dogs bark, and the caravan moves on.

Posted by RWE
a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 13, 2006 at 10:56 pm

Tom is a potential swing vote. That's why he was supported for VP. Townsend and Lowell, although very different in personal style and execution, seem to agree on most issues. Same for Price and Mitchell. Both sides will court Tom, who leans to Townsend and Lowell.

Advice to Dana (based on a hunch that he wants to make a Council run, eventually): Vote for processes that insure transparency; vote for a new superintendent that will do more than grok a narrow BOE agenda (as MFC was hired to do); vote to enable teachers and administrators (because their customers _vote_ in Council elections; remember, that power exists only because someone(s) lets it exist - don't be "too careful" in your votes, looking ahead to political reputation; _act_ in accordance with the _spirit_ of your promise, during the campaign, to "improve communication". Regarding the latter, if you continue to just "talk that talk", it will catch up with,and finish your further political aspirations. Palo Alto is and PAUSD are going through sea-changes that will demand more than "plain vanilla".

Posted by Nauseated, too
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 13, 2006 at 11:25 pm

Wolf - how did you get 'racist' out of Ms Price's comments? "Those people" are *all* the people who gave money to MI and fully expected to buy a biased feasibility study and an immersion program. Nobody has said who they are, so nobody knows what race they are. I believe you to be the racist since you jumped to that concluson so darned quickly.
You should look at the board member who is absolutely passionate about closing the achievement gap and making sure that "the whole child" is cared for in this district, apologize to Ms Price and have a lovely breakfast of crow.

Posted by Tulley
a resident of El Carmelo School
on Dec 13, 2006 at 11:38 pm

Wolf, that's an interesting idea coming from you suggesting that "one can object to MI on substantive basis". Some MI opponents have spent countless hours to present substantive data refuting some of the PACE/Feasibility Study and it seems to have fallen on deaf ears. Did you hear any substantive inquiries coming from Lowell or Townsend, in particular? And as to racism, look back at some of these postings and find the innuendos from proponents regarding collecting signatures at synagogues. I didn't hear any racism last night. I heard, once again, Gail and others saying that the emperor has no clothes: this proposal is an attempt to get a private school language education for some very clever people who have found a way to make the PAUSD pay for it. And the rest of the kids can go whistle up a rope if they don't feel that it's equitable.

Posted by Nauseated three
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Dec 14, 2006 at 12:08 am

Are you the same Wolf, the cyberbully who attacks everyone who disagrees with you on various threads, using such offensive language that Palo Alto Weekly staff has to sanitize your posts?

You say, "One can object to MI on substantive basis without resorting to racism, yet we clearly failed at this. As Palo Altan I am deeply ashamed of this." The irony of this statement is rich, given the way you choose to go for the jugular on people whose race, religion and gender are concealed by pseudonyms.

You accuse "Parent" of racism for comments that, while mean-spirited, and really don't further the discussion in any constructive way, weren't racist either. It is not sufficient justification to play the race card just because a person launches a diatribe against someone who doesn't happen to be white.

Posted by Pauline
a resident of Juana Briones School
on Dec 14, 2006 at 12:39 am

And I am a white woman who DOESN'T want MI, or ANY "immersion" equivalent in our schools until there is foreign language for all, and we paid mega bucks for our eldest to go to a Spanish Immersion program this summer, so anyone who disagrees with me and accuses me of not wanting this program in our district BECAUSE we can pay for a private program, is clearly racist against whites..or maybe just sexist against women,...or maybe age-ist against 50 year olds..

Wolf, are you the woman who spoke at the meeting and brought up the "race" card.....?

This attempt to frame opposition as "racist" is absurd. What makes you think that if you speak Mandarin and "look" Chinese you are automatically rich and for the program? Did it occur to you that there are many who oppose, also? Just as "whites" who don't speak Mandarin can be for the program? This is a discussion of ideas, not race.

You are free to express any idea you want, thankfully, but honestly, every time you try to do this you don't help "your side". I would advise you to quit trying to "color" the discussion to distract from the real dialogue.

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