Palo Alto Unified School District was recently ranked best K-12 school district in California and the second best school district in the state, both from the Niche 2022 Best School Districts in California.

According to Niche, PAUSD also holds the title of best school district with 10,000 or more students; PAUSD’s stellar reputation was a primary factor in drawing Superintendent Don Austin to the district.

“I came here because there is only a handful of places in the entire country that can even have this kind of a conversation [about holding titles],” Austin said. “I like being at a place that is a model and is still looking for those next levels of improvement. In our case, we have tremendous depth and breadth of programs.”

Palo Alto High School junior and Associated Student Body Treasurer Vivian Trach also appreciates the resources provided and the organization modeled by the district. 

“I’ve been to two board meetings and it’s very organized, they seem to be doing a good job of things,” Trach said. “There are a lot of good resources here, it’s cool to be in such a good academic space.”


“I like being at a place that is a model and is still looking for those next levels of improvement. In our case, we have tremendous depth and breadth of programs.”

— Don Austin, superintendent


ASB commissioner Evie Kramer feels Palo Alto has helped the school establish itself as a model district.

“The Palo Alto community’s support of PAUSD, through donations and participation, has really allowed the district to flourish,” Kramer said.

According to Austin, PAUSD still has many aspects upon which it can improve. 

“We still have an equity gap,” Austin said. “We still have some students here that are not experiencing the same success as the majority of our students, and that’s not okay. I think when you are a beacon, a place that people look to, any missed opportunity is unacceptable.”