School board to discuss budget for leadership transition | News | Palo Alto Online |


School board to discuss budget for leadership transition

Interim superintendent's contract to be amended

With an interim superintendent taking over after former superintendent Max McGee's sudden resignation last month, the school board will discuss tonight allocating an additional $168,000 to cover salary expenses, with a net cost of $43,000 for the transition in leadership.

The cost of McGee's resignation agreement — six month's pay and benefits through the end of the calendar year — is about $161,000, but the district will save about $286,000 from his salary, benefits and car allowance the rest of the school year.

The board unanimously appointed Karen Hendricks, who had been hired this year as assistant superintendent for human resources, to lead the district for the remainder of the school year after McGee resigned Sept. 29.

Staff are recommending the board waive its two-meeting rule on Tuesday and amend Hendricks' contract to pay her about $224,000 for the rest of the school year — $68,000 more than her initial salary. (This is based on prorating the 2014-15 entry level salary for the position of superintendent for the remainder of the year, according to a staff report.)

Staff are also proposing that Hendricks be able to request, with the board president's approval, up to 10 additional paid days "as necessary to conduct the business of the district" at a per-diem rate of $1,317.

Hendricks' car allowance would remain the same at $450 per month.

Staff are also asking the board to set aside up to $100,000 in this year's budget to pay for an interim human resources director to take over Hendricks' duties.

In Hendricks' first-ever "Weekly" message on Friday, a regular memo in which McGee provided updates to the community on ongoing initiatives and board work, she promised stability during a period of transition.

"With change can come many emotions, including uncertainty. Please know that I will, with all certainty, do my absolute best to support the people and the work of this school community," she wrote. "My commitment to you is in supporting the most positive student experience possible for each of our students, and to partnering with you on behalf of that goal."

Hendricks has experience working in this kind of environment: her most recent job was as interim superintendent in the Carmel Unified School District.

Hendricks asked parents, staff and community members to be "confident that the superintendent's office is in caring and capable hands, and that a strong system of support exists during this period of transition. 

"We have a significant amount of important work ahead of us," she wrote. "This includes abundant opportunities to expand upon what's working well and also to address and mitigate challenges that exist."

In other business Tuesday, the school board will discuss major facilities updates at several elementary schools, including a renovation of Hoover Elementary School and conceptual designs for new multipurpose buildings at El Carmelo, Escondido and Walter Hays schools.

At Hoover, the district plans to build a new administration building, multipurpose building, library and two smaller classroom buildings as well as improvements that include expanded playing fields and a new outdoor courtyard. The construction budget is estimated at $16.7 million, but staff warn in a report that recent bids have been coming in as much as 20 to 30 percent higher.

And since January, when the board set aside $37 million from an elementary reserve fund to begin the process for new multipurpose rooms at the elementary schools where they're most needed, district staff and an architecture firm have worked with advisory committees at each campus to develop conceptual designs. The board's original allocation is no longer enough to complete all three buildings "as now envisioned," a staff report states; the current estimate is $47.8 million.

"The choice is either to redesign simple replacement at the expense of the optimal future design of the campuses, or fully fund two of the projects through construction, and fund design work for the third project. Staff, in consultation with the site administration of the third project, has chosen the latter approach," a report states.

Staff is recommending the board fully fund El Carmelo and Escondido's multipurpose rooms and only the design work for Walter Hays, which is the most expensive project (estimated at $21 million). Construction there may require funds from a future bond or other sources, staff noted.

The board is also set on Tuesday to approve the 2017-18 district goals, discuss the creation of a subcommittee to provide feedback on the environmental impact report for Stanford University's General Use Permit process and award a contract to renovate the pool at JLS Middle School, among other items. The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the district office, 25 Churchill Ave.

View the full agenda here.


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33 people like this
Posted by palypaly
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 10, 2017 at 9:23 am

I don't get how Principal Kim Diorio is able to escape blame in the past problems with Palo Alto High School. Including the sex abuse incident. Worse, she doesn't seem to have a clue how to deal with tough situations like those in the past, or she just does it her own way, which is totally poor in my opinion.
She should be called the Teflon Principal. It's amazing the district gives her 2nd, 3rd, and 4th chances.

10 people like this
Posted by Breathe
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 10, 2017 at 11:18 am

Lets not skip the double vote again. PAUSD has a very bad track record with its budget - lets take this one step at a time.

30 people like this
Posted by $450 a MONTH?
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 10, 2017 at 12:07 pm

$450 a MONTH for automobile expenses? A month! that's $5,400 a year.
That is a scam carried forward from McGee's contract.
For driving around town? and during vacation? Stop the looting, School Board!

19 people like this
Posted by PAUSD $$ Critic
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Oct 10, 2017 at 1:42 pm

Typical educational system management style. Interim superintendent is compensated on the basis of a very nice salary, and yet there is consideration of payment for additional days of work: "...Hendricks be able to request, with the board president's approval, up to 10 additional paid days "as necessary to conduct the business of the district" at a per-diem rate of $1,317".

Where I come from a manager of any sort is paid a salary to get the job done, and works as many days and hours as necessary to do so. What's the deal with an "overtime" concept applying to someone in the superintendent role?

2 people like this
Posted by Old Steve
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Oct 10, 2017 at 2:30 pm

$$ Critic: The interim will for a short period have operational responsibilities in two jobs, hers and Dr. McGee's. Ed leadership contracts always specify work days rather than including earned vacation and paid holidays. Without the extra days, she might not be available to transition the new Super when they are chosen. Particularly since the search is likely to be complicated by the Board's behavior and the local cost of living to name only two factors among many.

3 people like this
Posted by Stew Pid
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 10, 2017 at 3:02 pm

@Old Steve:
"Ed leadership contracts always specify work days rather than including earned vacation and paid holidays."

Let's change that. So no longer always. We just don't have the cash any more. If she doesn't want the job, let's move down the ranks until we find someone who's committed enough to take it.

4 people like this
Posted by observing
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 10, 2017 at 3:40 pm


The Board will stink if they don't clean up and replace Diorio.

Diorio remaining would be a sign of compromise...not a good thing with the rot that may still be there.

Reminder that Diorio went after students for streaking (to satisfy the "adults"). Shortly after that she was having issues with parents, for the English Kerfuffle.

All the while predator teachers were under her nose.

Paly needs better, the kids need better.

21 people like this
Posted by out of control spending
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 10, 2017 at 6:05 pm

- $450 a MONTH for automobile expenses
- Double bonus for all teachers
- full salary for Max
- $6M unscheduled raise for teachers
- per-diem rate of $1,317
- ...

This board has absolutely no idea what they are doing. They are pathetic and need to go now before doing any further damage to this district.

3 people like this
Posted by Richard
a resident of El Carmelo School
on Oct 10, 2017 at 8:18 pm

Construction - design of buildings
How about putting the design out for proposal rather than continuously handing the projects to the same mediocre at best firm?

Seems like PAUSD is not doing dudiligenc in this area.

11 people like this
Posted by Dumbfounded
a resident of another community
on Oct 10, 2017 at 8:42 pm

So, important classified positions at Gunn need to be reduced, but high level positions within the district are to be saved. Does anyone really know how the budget cuts at Gunn will affect the students, parents, teachers and administrators? Let's keep piling on at the district level, and ignore those who support on a daily basis. And for much less compensation.

11 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto Parent
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 11, 2017 at 12:15 am

It's irresponsible for the Board to be spending our tax money like this. Cutting positions from classified and hourly employees while adding more cream at the top. I'm disgusted to know that they're even considering this, after all the budget fiascos.

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