The Palo Alto school district has hired a new chief business official, two new principals and created a new position focused on community outreach for minority and low-income students and families.
Carolyn Chow, currently the chief business official for the San Mateo-Foster City School District, will replace Jim Novak, who is retiring at the end of the school year. Chow has worked in district finances since 1993, when she started as payroll specialist in the Redwood City School District, according to her resume. She served as chief business officer for the Las Lomitas Elementary School District for nearly a decade, from 2007 to 2016.
Superintendent Don Austin is asking the school board to waive its two-meeting rule and approve a two-year contract for Chow at the upcoming Tuesday, May 28, board meeting. Under the contract, her starting salary will be $240,000. She will receive health, dental, vision and other fringe benefits; and expense and transportation reimbursement related to work. Austin will evaluate her performance at or around the midpoint of each year of the agreement.
Chow is expected to begin the job on July 1, pending release from her current job.
Miguel Fittoria, currently the program director at Palo Alto tutoring nonprofit Dreamcatchers, will fill a new role for the district: community outreach coordinator. The position is Austin's reconfiguration of the district-level equity coordinator, a job the superintendent described as too broad to accomplish the complex work of closing the district's persistent achievement gap. He decided not to fill the position after the second person to hold the job left midyear in 2018.
Fittoria, who was born and raised in East Palo Alto and attended the Palo Alto Unified school district, will be tasked with bringing minority and low-income students and families more into the fold in Palo Alto, Austin said in an interview Friday.
Fittoria will report directly to Assistant Superintendent of Operations and Strategic Initiatives Lana Conaway (whose position is to be renamed assistant superintendent of equity and student affairs) and help shape the district’s direction on its equity work, Austin said.
The district also announced Friday two new principal hires, which are subject to board approval. Leslie Crane, currently the principal of the TK-8 Clifford School in Redwood City, will replace Chris Grierson at Duveneck Elementary School. Grierson is leaving to become principal at JLS Middle School. JLS Principal Lisa Hickey is moving to the district office to become director of certificated human resources, effective July 1.
Crane was also director of human resources of the Redwood City School District for two years and a principal, vice principal and teacher in Los Altos and Menlo Park schools, according to her resume.
Annora Lee, the assistant principal for Escondido and Ohlone elementary schools, has been promoted to principal of Palo Verde Elementary School, where Principal Hillary Miller has resigned due to personal reasons.
Lee started as a teacher in the Evergreen Elementary School District in 2001 and also worked as a Title I specialist, instructional coach and administrative designee in that district. She has worked in Palo Alto since 2016. As an assistant principal for the two sites, she shares administrative responsibilities with Escondido and Ohlone's principals, oversees the Spanish and Mandarin immersion programs and monitors student progress and campus climate, among other responsibilities, according to her resume.