Messages from the Board

September 2018

Dear PKS community,

The energy on campus is palpable! Our new Head of School is at the helm, construction on our new front building is progressing on schedule, and the Middle School has launched. Our tremendous progress, both measurable and intangible, is a source of pride for our entire community. We are building the future of progressive Mandarin immersion education at full throttle.

Over the past seven years, the all-volunteer Board of Trustees has guided the launch of the K-8 program; deftly navigated the purchase of the school property; fundraised and oversaw the renovation of two buildings, and now the construction of the 3-story, front entrance building; and hired leaders in progressive, bilingual education. We have achieved these milestones with the engagement and generous support of our incredible students, teachers, staff, and parents.

The PKS Board is the guardian of our school’s mission. The focus of our work is long range and strategic: we serve as fiduciaries and stewards of the school’s financial health and institutional longevity. We also seek continuous improvement as a governance body in keeping with best practices for independent schools.

On the Board this year, we have educators and entrepreneurs, architects and developers, Warriors and Pandas fans, technologists and karaoke singers, writers and wine aficionados, Mandarin and non-Mandarin speakers, lawyers, strategists, and nonprofit leaders. Our bios are here. We are working parents united in our commitment to PKS, honored to serve our school, and proud advocates of the institution our community is building.

We welcome your input, feedback, and any questions you may have on our governance and stewardship work (email us). As always, feedback and questions on operational or classroom matters may be directed to Chris, administrative staff, division heads, and teachers. We hope that you will roll up your sleeves and get involved in the school community: volunteer in your child's classroom, participate in a Parent Association committee, and make PKS your philanthropic priority. All of us — students, parents, teachers, and staff — are the lifeblood of this community!

Our State of the School meeting will be held on the evening of March 28, 2019, when we will take stock of progress toward our goals to ensure the success of the Head of School and the completion of our new landmark building. In the meanwhile, wishing you and your children a great school year. 加油, jia you! On we go, together building the hearts, minds, and campus of progressive bilingual education!

Ranee Lan, Chair
on behalf of the Board of Trustees

* * *

September 2017


The calendar says September, we’re finding our groove with morning routines, and our school community is once again humming with activity. What better time to welcome new and returning families, and to celebrate our shared commitment to creating our vibrant and pioneering school?

Our progress as an institution is visible: new families, new staff, and a campus being purpose-built for our needs. It is also evident in our students as they engage in authentic and experiential learning that nurtures their intellectual curiosity and internal motivation.

What is the role of the Board?

The Board of Trustees is the steward of the school’s mission and establishes its direction. It sets out the corresponding strategic priorities with input from our faculty, staff, and leadership, as well as feedback from the parent community. The Board hires, supports, and evaluates the Head of School, who carries out the strategic priorities and is assessed by the Board for meeting goals and milestones. She is responsible for all school operations, such as the curriculum and program, managing staff and faculty, hiring and firing, and the classroom environment. Trustees also have fiduciary responsibility, ensuring that PKS is on sound financial footing and meeting its financial obligations.

What do Board members do?

Our foremost tasks are: 1) setting the mission and goals for the Head of School, supporting her in her work, ensuring that she has the tools to be successful, and evaluating her performance; and 2) developing and implementing long-term financial and strategic plans for the school.

We share responsibility with the HOS to raise donations through the Capital Campaign. We are a working board of volunteers—members belong to one or more committees that delve into the nuts and bolts of our strategic initiatives. Examples include launching the K-8 program, purchasing the school property, leading the renovation of Pioneer Hall and the Rectory, leading two Capital Campaigns that have generated $16M in philanthropic support from within the PKS community and funded the first two phases of the campus master plan—Pioneer Hall and the Rectory, and running leadership searches for our previous and current Heads of School.

What are the Board’s strategic priorities?

In last week’s edition of In the Knolls, Interim Head of School Judy Fox shared the areas we have asked her to focus on: leading a new, expanded leadership team; continuing to articulate the curriculum for both the Mandarin and progressive strands; and paving the way for our permanent Head of School, Chris Livaccari.

As a Board, we have set the following priorities for ourselves: provide support for and ensure the success of the Interim and permanent Heads of School, complete the financing requirements for our master plan, broaden our communications about Board work, and continue to mature our governance practices.

Who are we?

We are teachers, technologists, lawyers, writers, computer engineers, nonprofit leaders, real estate brokers, developers, and venture capitalists. We are working parents, single mothers, Mandarin and non-Mandarin speakers, sons and daughters of immigrants, San Francisco natives, and world travelers. Some of us are “Pioneer Families” whose children started here when the school was founded. Others joined the school more recently. And for the first time, we have a Trustee who is a non-PKS parent, the true sign of a maturing Board.

We come from all different backgrounds and walks of life, but we are united in our commitment to PKS, and honored to serve our school. For all of us, this is a second job that holds deep meaning.

How are Trustees selected?

Commitment to and passion for PKS are the main criteria. This can be expressed in a variety of ways: through volunteer work—such as serving as room parents, getting involved with Parents’ Night Out or Chinese New Year celebrations, serving on committees, organizing teacher lunches and coffee and congee mornings, chaperoning field trips; philanthropy; and professional expertise in specific areas of need like fundraising, law, finance, real estate, communications, and governance. These may lead to an invitation to consider board service, a process that begins in January. In all cases, our parent Trustees are long-time volunteers of the school who are enthusiastic believers and vocal promoters and advocates of our mission and goals.

What kind of financial commitment is necessary to be a Trustee?

Trustees make PKS a top philanthropic priority by participating in annual and capital campaign giving to the best of their ability, and by inspiring a culture of philanthropy in others.

How can I learn more about the Board and Trustees?

Call or email us! We welcome input and feedback from the community, and any questions you may have on our work and oversight responsibilities. Just know that we can’t/won’t intervene in classroom issues (we hope you won’t have any, of course, but if something arises you can contact your teachers, preschool, elementary, or middle school directors, or Head of School).

We will publish additional “Board Editions” to In The Knolls, and look forward to sharing our work with you over the course of the year. It’s an honor to serve our school, and we always welcome your thoughts and suggestions along the way.

Wishing you and your children a great school year.

Matt Koidin, Chair
on behalf of the Board of Trustees