Portola Valley School District 

News & Views
Eric Hartwig, Superintendent

In This Issue
Corte Madera Calendar
4575 Alpine Road
Portola Valley, CA  94028
(650) 851-1777
Eric Hartwig


Karyn Bechtel
Brooke Day
Jeff Klugman
Gulliver La Valle


Attendance Matters!
In its ongoing redesign of school testing and evaluation, California's Department of Education has revised how it gauges school attendance.

Under the new guidelines, PVSD does not fare well, as you can see from our current rating below. Next week the principals and I will be sending families a special message about maintaining good pupil attendance.
Friday, March 15, 2019
Dear PVSD Families,

I have always noticed that the school year starts out busy and filled with excitement, and then we all settle into a little bit of  a manageable routine that lasts for....about a month, if we're lucky. Then things get even more busy, and the second half of the school year ends up being twice as busy as the first semester. This year has been no different, with the passage of Measure Z, developing a building program, searching for a new superintendent, and filling a vacancy on the Board of Trustees. 

With the resignation of Trustee Maffia, our Board of Trustees has set in motion the process to make an appointment, and residents of our school district may apply by visiting our website and submitting an application by the deadline of 5:00 pm Thursday, March 21. The Board will interview candidates and make an appointment at its March 27 meeting.

Regarding the Measure Z renovation and building program, we continue to negotiate terms with an architectural firm and expect to have a contract ready for board adoption at the March 27 Board meeting. Meanwhile, CBO Connie Ngo has been conducting candidate interviews for our Citizens' Bond Oversight Committee (CBOC) and expects to have all member categories filled in time for Board approval at the April 17 meeting. 

In the meantime, enjoy the lengthening days and the hints of spring's arrival.

Summer School 2019
This summer, the Portola Valley School District will be offering a blended summer school experience for recommended students in grade K-7.  Students will attend class at the Corte Madera campus from June 17 - June 28th from 9:00 - 12:30 and receive instruction in the areas of math, reading, and writing. They will also have the opportunity to work on projects in the Makerspace.

Two weeks of on-campus instruction will be followed by four weeks of an online academy supervised by the same teacher. With summer school, students have the opportunity to retain the information from the previous school year and get a head start in the fall.

Students who are recommended for the 2019 Summer Academy will receive a form or email either from their teacher or from the school office
Trustee Karyn Bechtel becomes Gertrude McFuzz as she reads to Ormondale students on  "Read Across America Day."
PVSD Earns AA+ Rating from S&P
Portola Valley School District recently 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.

"We are ecst atic to have our rating upgraded two notches," said Superintendent Eric Hartwig, who participated in the presentation to the rating analysts. "Standard & Poor's was particularly impressed with the level of support we receive from the community, and we are so proud to report this result back to our constituents."  Standard & Poor's generally reviews four factors in assessing an issuer's creditworthiness: (1) District finances, (2) District management, (3) District debt/pension obligations, and (4) local economy.

Standard & Poor's noted the following as credit strengths of the District:
  • Strong property tax base with very high resident wealth levels
  • Robust supplementary revenues bolstering financial position and per pupil resources
  • Good financial management practices with formal policies in place
  • Low debt burden relative to property values
"It is very rare for a school district to receive a double rating upgrade," said Chris Hiatt of Keygent, the District's financial advisor, "We expect this rating upgrade to attract more investors and result in lower taxpayer costs for the upcoming Measure Z bond issuance."
The District has received a formal credit report from Standard & Poor's, which has been disseminated to the investment community. The District's rating was updated as part of its upcoming $10 million Measure Z general obligation bond issuance to fund projects in the District. A copy of the S&P rating letter can be found by clicking here .

For those in the community who are interested in purchasing bonds on the day of the bond sale, please contact Mariah Rathmanner or Pat Toutant at PiperJaffray at 800-552-0614. The bonds are expected to be sold on the morning of March 19, 2019.
Get Ready for FANfare
Every other year, the Portola Valley Schools Foundation (PVSF) hosts a springtime celebration called FANfare to benefit our Portola Valley Schools as well as to bring the entire community together for a fun, charitable party right on our own school grounds. FANfare focuses on raising money for one big special project called the Fund-A-Need (or "FAN"), which is identified through collaboration with teachers and school district leadership.

This year's Fund-a-Need is " Above and Beyond Learning Experiences: Enrich, Enhance and Excite , " a series of curriculum enrichment enhancements and events intended to spark the minds of students and make life-long learning impressions. This supplemental educational program will be led and designed by school administrators and teachers to enable students to better grasp their core subjects, as well as make lasting memories of their formative time at our schools.

Funds raised for "Above and Beyond " will go toward supporting both Ormondale and Corte Madera Schools over the next two years as they develop key subject-focused festivals, bring in inspirational experts, promote school community-building traditions and enrich, engage and enhance learning. Depending on the amount raised, features may include but aren't limited to:
  • Visual and performing arts programs
  • Environmental literacy programs including marine science and garden activity programs
  • Cultural immersive field trips
  • Math Festivals
  • Citizen Scientist / Lawrence Hall of Science Festivals
  • Wellness Community Festival
All net proceeds raised through FANfare 2019 will go toward "Above and Beyond" programs and will be spent on initiatives for both schools. Funds will primarily be raised via a donation-only live auction paddle raise at FANfare.
Improved Access to Board Agendas and Documents
In order to improve the governance process while saving staff time and taxpayer dollars, the PVSD will begin using Board Docs. BoardDocs is an easy-to-use service which will allow the District to maximize the effectiveness of its board meetings, with increased transparency.
BoardDocs Pro uses a structured, collaborative workflow that is specifically designed to meet the unique needs and legal requirements of public school boards. Additionally, through the MetaSearch feature, members of the governing body will also have access to best practices from other organizations that are using the system, allowing them to gain important knowledge about initiatives other governing bodies have considered and implemented.
Electronic distribution will not only save time and resources, but it will also provide unprecedented public access via the District website to agenda items and other board-related information. This process will allow interested parties to review information prior to meetings. After the meeting, individuals can review the agenda items and see what action the board took, complete with voting results. All documents associated with the meeting are automatically archived and can be accessed by date or by using the system's comprehensive search feature.
The new board management features can be accessed via the organization's website at www.pvsd.net.
Why PVSD Loves Stanford !
As a graduate of Cal and UCLA, it feels funny to say this, but here goes....I love Stanford! PVSD loves Stanford! During my nearly 30 years working and living on the Peninsula I have developed a deep appreciation for the benefits that flow from The Farm: cultural, intellectual, economic, and yes.... athletic.

Our district also has every reason to love Stanford. At the moment, PVSD is actively engaged in five enterprises with Stanford that benefit our students and staff.
  • Stanford Graduate School of Business  Alumni Consulting Team Volunteers (ACT):    We have just learned that our district has been paired up with a Stanford GSB Alumni Team to help us develop ways to improve our marketing and communications . Whatever it takes to get the good word out, improve our click rate...we're game!
  • Learning on the Move: Exploring Learning, Chromebooks, and Equity on a Tinsley Voluntary Transfer School Bus : Our work with the SUHSD K-12 Collaborative led to a very interesting PVSD-only project that may benefit our Voluntary Transfer Program students who spend over two hours a day on a yellow school bus.   Dr. Antero Garcia' s specialty is digital media in the modern school setting, so we've asked him to study whether there are ways that our VTP students can make productive use of the 3,200 hours of bus time they rack up during their nine years in our district. Last year we equipped the school bus with mobile wi-fi and we issued Chromebooks to the students. We are quite hopeful that the 18-month study will uncover ways that students can benefit more from their commute time.
  • Challenge Success : Founded in 2007 by Madeline Levine, Ph.D., Jim Lobdell, M.A., and Denise Pope, Ph.D, this nationally recognized program has shed a bright light on a very important aspect of adolescent life. PVSD has collaborated with this program since 2016 to help staff, students, and parents find ways to balance the pressures of school with the other demands that our children face.
    The team continues to work with Coach Mary Hofstedt from Challenge Success to promote student well-being and engagement. Some exciting activities are planned for the Spring semester including parent education nights on topics such as Anxiety and Executive Functioning, Shadow Days where staff shadow students to gain an understanding of the challenges they face during the school day, and Week of the Family coming up soon at the end of April Look out for more information on Week of the Family in upcoming newsletters.
    Through Challenge Success, we have provided trainings for staff and parents, conducted periodic assessments of student stress, and have attended seminars at Stanford. The CS website is a treasure trove of resources for parents and educators.
  • The Stanford-Sequoia K-12 Research Collaborative : Three years ago the Superintendent of the Sequoia Union High School District proposed that the district and its feeder elementary districts join with the Stanford School of Education to explore ways that the university could partner with practitioners to identify, develop, and study practices that work well in our schools. The first major project undertaken by the collaborative involves improving instructional practices for English Learner students, and about 10 PVSD staff are actively engaged with our partner districts.
  • Superintendents' Learning Group: There are 23 school districts in San Mateo County, and about one-half of the superintendents participate in a bi-monthly "learning group" hosted by Stanford's Graduate School of Education. Each half-day session involves reading up on a scholar's work and then meeting in a seminar setting for discussion and lunch. Past sessions have been with Michael Kirst, Larry Cuban, Claude Steele, Antero Garcia, Jo Boaler, and  Guadalupe Valdes, to name a few.
Our special access to some of the riches of Stanford is just one of the many intangibles that makes learning and working in PVSD so rewarding

 COLLABORATION   Working together to achieve common goals.

 INTEGRITY   Being consistently honest and trustworthy.

 RESPECT   Having regard and concern for yourself and others while accepting individual differences and   the right of others to hold divergent views.