The PVSD Board of Trustees, administrators, faculty, staff and I extend a warm welcome back from the winter recess! We would also like to wish you a happy New Year as we usher in 2020.
I hope you feel rested and savored the time spent on your favorite holiday traditions with the people in your life who mean the most to you. This is the time of year when we pause and reflect on the many blessings in our lives.
I continue to feel fortunate to work in such a wonderful community and in a district with opportunities for both staff and students alike. Helen Keller once said, “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.” I hope that your hearts were filled with happiness over this recent holiday season as you spent time with family and friends. I hope that your hearts were generous toward those that are less fortunate. I hope that your hearts and minds find peace, love and happiness in this New Year.
The remainder of this school year will zip by and it will be June before we know it! We have been quite busy over the last few months and here are some highlights from 2019:
When PVSD board member Michael Maffia stepped down from his post in the spring, the board chose Kimberley Morris Rosen to fill the seat. In August, Gulliver La Valle also resigned from the Portola Valley board.
PVSD received a double upgrade in its bond credit rating from Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings. Standard & Poor’s upgraded the District’s general obligation bond credit rating two levels, from ‘AA-’ to ‘AA+,’ the second highest possible rating an issuer can achieve based on these factors: (1) District finances, (2) District management, (3) District debt/pension obligations, and (4) local economy.
62.4% of Portola Valley voters supported Measure Z, a local facilities bond measure which provides $49.5 million to upgrade our schools at a cost of $30 per $100,000 of assessed value per year. The measure will allow us to replace leaking roofs, upgrade old plumbing and electrical systems; refit aging classrooms, labs and technology infrastructure to support academic instruction in math, science, reading, writing and the arts; upgrade outdated fire alarms, classrooms, facilities and security systems to improve school security and meet current safety codes; and update educational facilities to keep pace with 21st century teaching and learning.
Superintendent Eric Hartwig retired at the end of the 2018-19 school year. I, Roberta Zarea, was selected to fill that post on July 1, 2019. I am delighted to serve the students, staff and families of this fantastic school district!
The county canceled the district's School Board election in November because the number of qualified candidates in the race was equal to the number of open seats. The candidates for the two open seats -- incumbent Brooke Day and Anne Fazioli-Khiari -- were then appointed by the Board.
The Board passed a resolution this fall to put a renewal of the district's parcel tax on the March 3 ballot. Measure O, which passed in 2013 with 69% of the vote and generates about $1.2 million annually, is set to expire in June 2021. Property owners pay about $581 per parcel annually, according to the district. Two-thirds of voters must approve the tax for it to be renewed.
PVSD teachers and other certificated staffreceived pay increases, including the potential for a bonus and a boost to overtime pay. District teachers, unlike other local educators, since 2013 have received raises based on their performance and their students' performance, and not on the number of years they have been in the district. The new contract established a $1,500 bonus for teachers who receive a positive annual evaluation.
Academically, our students are excelling. In all tested grades, eighty-seven percent of students met or exceeded California’s English Language Arts/Literacy (ELA) standards- an increase of three percent over last year, and eighty-three percent of students met or exceeded standards in Mathematics - down two percent from the previous year.
The District’s results on the CA Dashboard show that our district and schools are meeting the needs of our students. However, while our district and schools are making progress in many key areas, there is always more work to do. Continuous improvement takes a united effort, and we look forward to working with our staff and families to ensure success for every student.
Upcoming Important Dates:
January 6, 2020 School Resumes
January 13, 2020 8:30 am - 12:30 pm Special Meeting of PVSD Governing Board
January 13, 2020 6:00 - 7:00 pm ROPES Information Night for Grades 3, 5, 7, 8
January 15, 2020 6:00 pm Regular Meeting of the PVSD Governing Board
January 16, 2020 5:30 pm Winter Art Show and Concert @ CMS
January 17, 2020 7:30 - 8:30 am PTO 4th and 5th Grade Cocoa Breakfast
January 22, 2020 8:30 – 9:30am . Kindergarten Registration/Orientation at Ormondale
January 24, 2020 8:30 – 9:30am Transitional Kindergarten Registration/Orientation
The Portola Valley Schools Foundation (PVSF) supports our schools by raising funds to supplement the District operating budget. This is done because the funds that we receive from public sources are not sufficient to fully support the comprehensive education that our District provides and the community has come to expect. These funds enable:
smaller class sizes
specialists and programs in areas such as reading, writing, math, music, technology, and diverse middle school electives, counseling
professional development for teachers to increase their content knowledge as well as hone their instructional craft
As we enter into the next decade, my goals as Superintendent are:
Continued effective communication with PVSD staff, students, families and the Portola Valley Community
Implementation of PVSD’sBlueprint for Excellence, with a focus on student achievement, climate and safety, and creative, hands-on learning
Fiscal responsibility and facility stewardship, as we move into the Schematics Design phase of our Measure Z Bond program and renewal of our district’s parcel tax.
Please keep in mind that I truly value your feedback and the relationships that we are developing. If you have any questions or comments about anything related to our school district, please email me, call me or make an appointment to see me. Our partnership is vital to the continued success of this incredible district.
Happy New Year!
Roberta Zarea, Portola Valley District Superintendent