The need for Palo Alto teachers to be able to share ideas more emerged as a theme Tuesday, June 18, as members of the Board of Education gathered for their annual retreat.
With a new union contract requirement that teachers participate in "professional development" and money in the budget to compensate them for it, Superintendent Kevin Skelly said teachers will have more opportunities to collaborate than they have in the past.
Skelly recently named teacher Kelly Bikle to a new position of "coordinator of professional development," where she will be charged with identifying what teachers need and planning activities.
Board members spent six hours Tuesday brainstorming over a host of proposed district goals for 2013-14, covering multiple topics, including anticipated curriculum changes that will come with the Common Core State Standards, which have been adopted by California as part of a push by the nation's governors and state school chiefs to align curricula with what they say are 21st century knowledge and skills.
Board member Camille Townsend said the new standards will require replacement of the K-5 mathematics textbook Everyday Mathematics, which was adopted by the board in a contentious 3-2 vote in 2009.
Skelly noted that Palo Alto teacher Anna Kearney has been named to a state committee to review K-8 math materials to determine whether they are aligned with the Common Core State Standards.
As the school "inclusion" movement brings increasing numbers of students with disabilities into regular classrooms, teachers need more help in educating them, board member Heidi Emberling said. She also said she wants more consistency in the anti-bullying curricula used across the district's 17 campuses.
Board President Dana Tom said he plans to switch school board agendas starting in August to place the "public comment" period at the beginning of meetings, around 6:30 p.m.
'Landlords from hell' plead guilty in four felony counts
A husband and wife dubbed the "landlords from hell" for a series of escalating actions and threats made against their tenants in a San Francisco apartment building several years ago have pleaded guilty to multiple felony charges, prosecutors said Wednesday.
Palo Alto residents Kip Macy, 38, and his wife, Nicole Macy, 37, were recently extradited from Italy for a case that began when they wanted to evict tenants out of a six-unit apartment building they owned in the 700 block of Clementina Street in San Francisco's South of Market neighborhood.
The couple pleaded guilty Tuesday to two felony counts of residential burglary, one felony count of stalking and one felony count of attempted grand theft and face up to four years and four months in prison when they are sentenced on Aug. 22.
Starting in August 2006, Nicole Macy sent an email from an account she created pretending to be a tenant to fire an attorney who was representing the tenant in a civil matter against the Macys, prosecutors said.
She also sent another fraudulent email to her own attorneys, pretending to be the tenant and threatening to kidnap and dismember the attorneys' children, prosecutors said.
The next month, the Macys twice cut holes in the floor of one victim's living room with a power saw.
They also cut sections out of the joists below the victim's floor in an apparent attempt to make the floor collapse, prosecutors said.
The couple also threatened to shoot another victim who was working as a building manager for them and burglarized other tenants' units, prosecutors said.
The Macys were charged in 2008 and indicted by a criminal grand jury the following year. In 2010, the Macys fled the country.
They were eventually taken into custody in Milan, Italy, in May 2012.
Assistant District Attorney Kelly Burke said the Macys had wanted to evict the tenants to renovate the apartments and sell the building.
East Palo Alto re-opens Woodland after flood repairs
Residents of a flood-prone neighborhood in East Palo Alto can rest easier now that the first phase of repairs to the San Francisquito Creek bank have been completed.
The creek overflowed in December 2012 and sent mud and debris onto Woodland Avenue, damaging homes and threatening PG&E infrastructure and a portion of the roadway, which had to be closed to traffic.
The damaged section of Woodland Avenue has since been resurfaced and reopened, and the exposed slope of the creek bank has been shored up with mesh, rock and installation of a new concrete dike, community development director John Doughty said.
"It's a great start," Doughty said. "This will hold for some time to come."
The repair project cost a little more than $165,000, Doughty said, though additional work is needed along the waterway. A bridge over University Avenue needs to be reinforced, and repairs need to be made to "boils" or weak points on the creek levee where high water seeps through and weakens the structure.
The eventual cost of the project could reach $2 million, and the City of East Palo Alto is continuing to pursue financing options for the remainder of the work, Doughty said.