Portola Valley School District 

News & Views
Eric Hartwig, Superintendent

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


Karyn Bechtel
Brooke Day
Jeff Klugman
Gulliver La Valle
Mike Maffia



Portola Valley

Working together to achieve common goals.

Being consistently honest and trustworthy.

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

Wednesday, December 20 , 2017
Dear Families and Friends,

The school year has just flown by, hasn't it? It seems like yesterday that we were viewing the eclipse on the first day of school, and now the winter solstice is here and we're planning for 2018. I've been quite engaged in the past few months with transitioning to a new Board of Trustees and a new Chief Business Official (see stories below), but now we're ready to take on the challenges of a new year.

Meanwhile, whether its Ormondale's Winter Concert or Mrs. Green's "Panache Tea," our students keep surprising us with their energy and talent. And as Jason Borgen relates below, students are flocking to be part of the "CMS Tech Squad." We also recently hosted "Mad Scientists" at both schools (thank you PVSF Endowment Grant!) as a way of igniting a bit of science craze in our students. 

When we return at the start of 2018, the Board will be making its decision about the 2018-19 academic calendar at its January 17th meeting. The following item discusses the options upon which this decision will be based.

Have a great vacation, and I wish you the best,

School Academic Calendar for 2018-19 Under Development
Way back on December 4 we sent a survey to all PVSD families asking which dates were most preferable for next school year's academic calendar. So far we've received 181 parent responses for a rate of 39%. If you haven't responded yet, you will have received a reminder on December 18 titled "PVSD 2018-19 School Calendar - Important Survey"  -- if you don't see it in your inbox, check your spam as some emails from Survey Monkey end up there. If you have already responded, then rest easy as we're only allowing one response per household.

The Board of Trustees has discussed the calendar at its past three meetings, and is scheduled to make a decision at the upcoming meeting on January 17, 2018, so please respond by January 9th so your preferences can be taken into consideration.

Three options are being considered, and each option has the choice of three dates for spring break, which makes for 9 combinations.

To simplify, for starting/ending dates:

* School starts August 20th, and ends June 7th.
* School starts August 27th instead, and ends June 14th.
* School starts mid-week on August 22nd, ends mid-week on June 13th, AND provides a full week off at Thanksgiving (Nov. 19 - 23).

And  for Spring Break -

* April 1 - 5  (matches Sequoia High School District)
* April 8 - 12
* April 15 - 19

Sequoia's other crucial dates are:

* 1st day of school: August 15, 2018
* Winter Break: December 21 - January 9
* Mid-Winter Break: February 18 - 22
* Spring Break: April 1 - 5
* Last day of school: June 7, 2019

While the final decision is guaranteed to not please everyone, we will make our best effort to balance the educational needs of our students with the preferences of our families.
K-5 English Language Arts (ELA) Pilot
Over the last year the district created a Leadership Team focused on our current Reading and Writing Workshop pro gram -- The  Workshop Leadership Team (WLT). Teachers from all grades levels in K-5 regularly connect and discuss best practices, articulate essential literacy skills, and share common resources to improve all aspects of literacy in PVSD. As the district continues to build its literacy program and master the Common Core Standards, we are embarking on a formal curriculum adoption process. Three WLT teachers, one each from first grade, 2nd grade, and 4th grade, will spend the month of January piloting two English Language Arts curricula and engage stakeholders in feedback. 

Sing, Sing Sing - Students Perform for the Holidays
From Mr. Frederick's 3rd grade class raising money for charity to Mrs. Rynewicz's class supporting and engaging with the seniors the Webster House, PVSD is where service learning and holiday spirit is at its best! What a way to end 2017! Students were well prepared, collaborative, outgoing, and truly inspirational!

CTCT-20171219_163949 CTCT-20171219_163926


District Hires New Chief Business Official
The departure of Jonathan Barth at the end of October presented a potentially challenging search for a replacement in the middle of the normal fiscal year. Fortunately, we were able to recruit aggressively within the Bay Area and had a fine collection of candidates to consider, and on December 6 our Board of Trustees appointed Ms. Connie Ngo to the position. Connie will begin her official duties on January 16, but she's been in close contact with us since being selected.

Connie  comes to us from Palo Alto USD, where she was Fiscal Services Manager, and from Jefferson Elementary and Burlingame Elementary before that. She is a Certified Public Accountant with diverse experience in public schools and our local agencies.

Providing essential expert service to us during the transition has been Cynthia Shieh, a recently retired CBO who is intimately familiar with state requirements and our county's specific procedures. Cynthia's top priorities have been to bring Mr. Barth's unfinished projects to conclusion and setting the stage for a successful transition to Connie Ngo. We are very fortunate to have such talent available at this crucial juncture.
The Mad Scientist in PVSD
Thanks to a science enrichment PVSF endowment grant, a Mad Scientist of the Bay Area was brought to Ormondale for an assembly to engage with the states of matter. Other mad scientists also spent intimate time in the 4-5 science program where students learned about kitchen chemistry and forensics!

School Facilities Update
With four of our five members of our Board of Trustees being brand new, it was logical to slow down our planning process to prepare for a possible November, rather than June, ballot measure for a general obligation bond. Add to that the discovery of significant mold problems in some of the classrooms at Corte Madera School and the need to embark on major repairs, and it is easy to see why we're regrouping around the topic of master planning for our facilities.

On January 18th our Trustees, architects, and key administrators will view both of our campuses to get a closer look at their condition, with a goal of zeroing in on top priorities for maintaining the safety and longevity of our buildings. Our polling this fall, as well as our own common sense, steer us to focusing first on the essential rather than the aspirational, and between now and summer we expect to develop a clear picture of how a modest, single bond measure would address our most pressing needs.

Regarding the repair work at Corte Madera, the latest news from our contractors is that the 500 wing will be fully repaired and students and teachers will reoccupy those rooms when school resumes in January. Also, repairs will be made on classrooms in the 700 wing over Winter Break, so teachers and students shouldn't be inconvenienced. There are a few other, smaller, repairs that will need to be made in the Library and the 600 wing in early January. 
CMS Tech Squad Leads CSEdWeek
CTCT-20171219_170534 The newly formed CMS Tech Squad spent two-days during the first week of December showcasing what they know from tutorials to demonstrations. Tech Squad participants spent their lunch sharing coding with Scratch, code.org, robotics, and much more! The CMS Tech Squad will continue to offer technology support to both students and teachers at CCTCT-20171219_170615MS.

Ormondale students also participated in the Hour of Code! Even kindergartners learned to critically think through developing commands using The Foos and other tools to help learn coding processes.
Important Upcoming Dates

Monday, 8th:  Classes resume
Thursday, 11th:  District Leadership Meeting 11:00 AM
Friday, 12th:  Last day of first semester
Monday , 15th:  NO SCHOOL, Martin Luther King Day Holiday
Wednesday, 17th:   School Board Meeting at 6:00 P.M. in Annex
Thursday,18th: School Board Study Session (facilities walk-through) 3:00 PM at Ormondale
Thursday,18th: Corte Madera Art & Winter Concert  5:30 PM
Thursday, 25th:  Kindergarten registration begins for 18-19

For a complete schedule of district and school site events, please visit the online website calendars:  
Crossing Guards Needed!
Looking for a great way to spend an hour or so each day?
The District has an immediate need for crossing guard coverage for students arriving and departing both school campuses. The crossing guard provides for the safety of students before and after school as they cross designated roadways.

Our current needs (locations and times may change) are --

Morning:      Alpine Road & Portola Road 
     7:30 - 7:55 AM daily on days when students attend school (180 days)
                    Brookside Road & Portola Road
     8:00 - 8:30 AM daily on days when students attend school (180 days).

Afternoon Alpine Road & Indian Crossing
     2:45 - 3:30 PM  daily (except  Wednesday which will be 1:40 to 2:25 PM)
on days when students attend school (180 days)

Start Date: Immediately
Compensation: $16.39/hour (one hour minimum)

The District will consider staffing this schedule in multiple ways, depending on the response to this request.  The District will also consider a pool of interested crossing guards to fill the available hours on a rotating basis The crossing guard:
  • Observes traffic flow, watching for breaks, in order to effectively halt traffic.
  • Observes that all vehicles appear to be reducing speed in preparation to stop.
  • After traffic is halted, safely escorts students across the roadway until all children have reached a place of safety from traffic and returns to crossing post.
  • Informs students of proper safety methods and assures that they observe all safety precautions.
  • When necessary, reports those students who fail to cooperate to school principal.
  • Observes and submits essential evidence (characteristics of automobile, driver, etc.) to proper authorities when motorists violate school crossing regulations.
  • Notifies or requests someone to notify proper authorities in emergency situations.
  • Observes and reports actions of suspicious characters at or near the crossing locations.
Desirable Qualifications:
  • Ability to wear and carry appropriate clothing and equipment.
  • Ability to work in a wide variety of weather conditions.
  • Knowledge of school traffic safety practices and expectations.
  • Ability to successfully work with students.
  • Ability to maintain regular and predictable attendance.
  • Ability to pass Livescan background check