I'm Todd Collins and I'm running for re-election to the Palo Alto School Board. Now more than ever, we need to focus on putting kids first and getting the key things right:
- Academic progress and achievement for every student
- Close attention to mental health and emotional well-being
- Thoughtful, data-driven decision making
- Strong fiscal management and oversight
- Transparency and trust in all our relationships
We face an unprecedented crisis with COVID-19. We need to face the issues head on, with candor, thoughtfulness, and a focus on students.
Our challenges will change from year to year, but my values and approach will not.
(Please also support Measure O, the School Parcel Tax Renewal. Learn more Here.)
PRIORITIES & ISSUES
Manage Through the Pandemic – We face an unprecedented crisis that has changed our lives, and nowhere more than in our schools. There are many decisions to make, and the conditions are changing fast. We need to focus on students - keep them safe, and give them every possible support and chance to succeed, especially those who need school the most.
Academic Achievement for Every Student – We have outstanding student achievement overall, but we need to look at our students as individuals, not averages. Closing the achievement gap for minority and low-income students must move beyond good intentions to actual results.
Mental Health & Emotional Well-Being – This has become a critical value at our schools, and we have to continue to build on it. The challenges of COVID-19 for children and teens makes this even more important.
Data-Driven Decision Making – Debate without data is usually a waste of time. Even worse, since it can drive people apart. We need to insist on good data to make good decisions, and bring a spirit of cooperation and constructive problem solving to every issue.
Strong Fiscal Management – The next few years will be challenging. We need to draw on our "rainy day" reserves to protect key programs and address our weaknesses; we also need to cut expenses. We are in a better financial position than most school districts - we need to use that strength to support our students.
Transparency & Trust – The success of the District relies on a foundation of trust with parents, the community, and all our stakeholders. Maintaining that trust requires openness and candor in everything we do, and an unfailing effort to follow through on our commitments.
I've been a School Board member since 2016 and currently serve as Board President. I've taken the lead on key issues:
- Identifying the potentially disastrous impact of the Stanford GUP (General Use Permit) on PAUSD's financial future. Our community rallied, and the result was a landmark agreement with Stanford, recognizing that they must make on-going payments if they house PAUSD students in tax-free housing.
- Changing our district office culture, where we replaced a majority of senior district leadership with a new, invigorated management team.
- Setting up new legal compliance and financial controls, to make sure we avoid the mistakes and scandals that have distracted us from our core mission of serving students.
- Committing to closing the achievement gap with transparency and accountability. We need to move beyond good intentions to actual results.
I've served on the Board's Property Committee (two years) and City/School Liaison Committee (three years), and helped strengthen our work with the City on the Cubberley Community Center. I championed our new 2018 School Bond (approved by 70% of voters) and our first-ever school board term limits (73% of voters).
Before the Board, I chaired the bond Citizens Oversight Committee. I'm proud that I was able to help save PAUSD taxpayers over $800 million in bond interest costs, and protect housing values in our community.
I also helped chair the District's Enrollment Management Advisory Committee (EMAC) that resolved long-standing issues around building new schools.Family
My wife Elisabeth and I have three children; all attended PAUSD schools. Our youngest has severe autism. Our experience with a special needs child gives me empathy and insight into this critical area of the District’s work.
My parents were educators, my mom a teacher and my dad a college professor. In my home growing up, teaching and learning were the most important things a person could do.Community & School Volunteering
- Palo Alto Girls Softball - board member and coach
- Gunn PTSA, Terman PTA - Executive Board
- School Bond Citizens Oversight Committee - Member/Chair
- DreamCatchers (Palo Alto) - board member (former)
- Ravenswood City School District (EPA) - broadcast partner
I'm an entrepreneur and investor. I've spent 20 years as an active board member in mid-sized organizations. I know how to be an effective board member - how to both challenge and support senior leaders, and focus on getting things done. You can learn more at my LinkedIn Page.
BA, Harvard College, Government