The Magnolia Message: August 24, 2016 Letter from the Superintendent

Dear PUSD Families,


I hope the new school year is off to a great start for your family.  This is the first edition of the 2016-17 Spotlight on Student Learning, the District’s monthly electronic newsletter.  This edition lays out the District’s goals for the year ahead, how we will report our progress toward achieving these goals, and how you can get more involved in the schools.  Also, I’d like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the vital role played by volunteers and support groups across the Piedmont Unified School District.

There is truly remarkable support for education in the Piedmont community.  There is financial support in the form of parcel taxes, for example, and contributions to the Piedmont Education Foundation and annual fundraising campaigns.  There is an army of volunteers who work in the libraries, drive carpools to field trips and athletic events, and support ambitious projects such as high school service learning, to name just a few.  There is also a range of support groups that make grants to enhance education in the performing and visual arts, for example, as well as core educational programs.

This Fall, the District implemented a new online “Piedmont Store,” which makes it easy to donate to school support groups and explore volunteer opportunities across the District.  You can access the store by visiting:

I encourage you to bookmark the Piedmont Store and visit it often, as the Store will remain open throughout the year.  The vitality of many District programs depends on volunteers and community support, and we are deeply grateful for the depth and breadth of this support for education.


District Goals

Over the last few years, the District implemented new math curriculum and instructional technologies at all levels; developed comprehensive professional development, evaluation, and mentoring programs for our educators; aggressively managed our budget to minimize the effects of volatility in State education funding; and changed the academic calendar and bell schedules to reduce student stress.  (For a more complete overview of the changes implemented last year in particular, click here.)

All of these changes advance the District’s essential goals — to provide an extraordinary 21st Century Education and enhance learning opportunities for all students.  Achieving these goals requires work on several fronts, including:

  • Continued focus on developing and delivering relevant curriculum with innovative instructional strategies.
  • Design of flexible, adaptable technology, facilities, and other infrastructure to support learning and instruction.
  • Commitment to the social and emotional health and development of students.
  • Expansion of programs to promote digital literacy and digital citizenship in the contemporary, rapidly-changing technology and media environment.
  • Renewed emphasis on citizenship and service learning, instilling a sense of purpose beyond oneself.
  • Continued diligence in fiscal planning and management.
  • Routine, two-way communication about District initiatives with students and families.


District Initiatives for 2016-17

As I outlined in my letter to families earlier in August, the District will focus on several specific initiatives during the 2016-17 school year:

  • To further the goal that all students should feel physically safe, emotionally cared for, and academically and socially included in their school environment, the District will:
    • Review the health standards and social emotional learning guidelines taught at each level, identify gaps, and begin developing a plan to address gaps.
    • Form a high school Healthy Relations Committee to review and expand curricular programs that address students’ physical and mental health and social emotional well-being.
    • Provide training on gender identity for all staff and students.
    • Create a Board Policy on sexual assault prevention.
    • Pilot a Coordination Calendar of major tests and projects at PHS to reduce the number of tests and major projects due the same day/week.
  • To further the goal that all students should graduate with the 21st century learning skills needed for college and careers, the District will:
    • Ensure that 6-12 English language arts instructional materials are aligned to the Common Core ELA Standards.
    • Create an Engineering Lab at PMS, add an additional 3D printer, and add small-group presentation spaces.
    • Define and articulate the scope and sequence for K-12 Technology/Media/ Information Skills and Computer Science.
    • Form a Next Generation Science Standards Implementation Team consisting of teacher representatives from elementary, middle school, high school, special education, and administrators.
    • Propose a ballot measure to the voters at the November 2016 election to improve PUSD school facilities (the culmination of a comprehensive facilities master planning process to address antiquated middle and high school facilities that do not adequately support our educational programs), and hold a variety of community stakeholder meetings and conduct other outreach concerning facilities work.
  • To further the goal that all students should engage in rigorous, relevant, and differentiated learning experiences where they make connections among disciplines, the District will:
    • Hire a part-time Differentiated Instruction (DI) Specialist to coach teachers who request DI support.
    • Provide stipends and training for teachers to serve as Site Level GATE coordinators to support teachers and administrators in meeting the needs of gifted and advanced learners.
    • Develop and begin implementation of a long-term K-5 professional learning plan regarding integrated learning and arts integration.
    • Provide additional math support for K-5 students who are below grade level.
    • Provide multisensory training in reading and mathematics for elementary special education teachers.
    • Provide general dyslexia training for all teachers and specialized training for teachers who work with dyslexic students.

How to Get Involved

I encourage all families to get involved and participate in some of the many committees that help shape District policy.  Upcoming meetings and events, all of which are open to the public include:

  • The Board of Education, August 24, 2016 – 7:00pm, City Hall Council Chamber, 120 Vista Avenue. 

The Board of Education oversees and establishes policy for the District.  Board meetings are usually held on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month in the evening.

  • LCAP Advisory Committee, September 12, 2016 – 3:45pm-5:15pm, Piedmont High School Student Center

Open to all parents, the LCAP Advisory Committee meets monthly to engage with families, educators, and students to help develop the Local Control Accountability Plan (the District’s strategic plan).  Discussions range from annual goal development to discussions on specific actions the district will take to achieve these goals.  View the District’s calendar for additional meeting dates throughout the year.  Also, click here to review the PUSD LCAP for 2016-17.

  • School Site Councils

Each school site has its own Site Council, with the exception of the District’s three elementary schools, which have a combined “Tri-School” site council, consisting of staff and parents (and, in the case of the PHS and MHS, students).  Each Site Council discusses and develops a plan to improve student performance, and serves as a forum where school staff, parents and students can discuss issues that affect student performance.   Site Councils typically meet once per month in the afternoon.  Upcoming meetings include:

Tri-School (Elementary) Site Council. September 6, 2016 3:30pm, Havens Library, 323 Highland Avenue.

Piedmont Middle School Site Council.  September 13, 2016 – 3:30pm, PMS Room 201, 740 Magnolia Avenue.

Piedmont High School Site Council.  September 22, 2016 – 3:30pm, PHS Student Center, 800 Magnolia Avenue.

Millennium High School Site Council.  September 21, 2016 – 3:30pm, MHS, 760 Magnolia Avenue.


These are just a few of the meetings and events throughout the school year that offer opportunities for families to get involved and provide input.  Other committees include the Budget Advisory Committee, the District GATE Advisory Committee, the District Technology Advisory Committee, and the Special Education Advisory Committee.  I strongly encourage all families to participate however they can, whenever they can, in any of these.  Please look to the Spotlight for a list of upcoming meetings and events each month.

For additional information about the school community and a calendar of school-related events, please look for the Piedmont Portal at, the Piedmont Education Foundation’s weekly electronic newsletter.

I welcome your questions and comments at any time, so please don’t hesitate to contact me at



Randall Booker

Superintendent, Piedmont Unified School District

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