Palo Alto Weekly

News - January 15, 2010

News Digest

Local fund seeks Haiti quake relief donations

The Irene S. Scully Fund, a donor-advised fund of Silicon Valley Community Foundation in Mountain View, will provide up to $50,000 in matching money to help Haiti and its people recover from the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake, the foundation announced Wednesday.

Through the Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund, donations will be matched dollar for dollar. The funds will be given to organizations working to provide critical assistance to help Haiti following the worst earthquake there in more than 200 years.

The community foundation Wednesday made the first donation, $10,000.

The Irene S. Scully Family Foundation in Greenbrae focuses primarily on the Bay Area but became interested in Haiti through its work with the What If? Foundation, according to spokeswoman Kathleen Maloney.

Community foundation staff has researched organizations that are on the ground in Haiti and are able to provide effective assistance, according to a news release.

Donations are being accepted online through www.siliconvalleycf.org, donate@siliconvalleycf.org or 650-450-5444. Checks also can be mailed to Silicon Valley Community Foundation, 2440 West El Camino Real, Suite 300, Mountain View, CA, 94040, attn: "Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund."

Other organizations helping with recovery efforts in Haiti include Save the Children, World Vision, Partners in Health and American Red Cross.

Four Palo Alto school administrators to retire

The Palo Alto Unified School District announced a spate of retirements Wednesday.

Among those retiring in June will be an assistant superintendent who joined the district just last summer, and the administrator who has spearheaded the school district's efforts in responding to four student suicides at the Caltrain tracks last year.

"We are deeply grateful for the service of these outstanding educators," Superintendent Kevin Skelly said.

"Our challenge over the next six months is to build the strongest district administrative team possible so we can provide outstanding support to schools and our community."

Carol Zepecki, the district's director of special education and student services, has held that position since arriving at the district 12 years ago. Most recently, Zepecki has been at the forefront of district efforts to respond to the suicides, bringing in outside experts and helping to set up programs for students and staff.

Linda Common, assistant superintendent of administrative services, joined the district last July, replacing Scott Laurence, who left to become superintendent of the San Mateo Union High School District. Common, who was principal of Woodside High School for 11 years, also has worked in the Santa Clara Unified School District and the San Mateo Union High School District.

Also retiring will be Burton Cohen, the district's director of secondary education since arriving at the district 10 years ago, and Barbara Lancon, summer school coordinator, who joined the district in 1996 and served as a teacher and administrator at JLS Middle School.

Plan approved for offices at historic church

A historic church in downtown Palo Alto will be preserved, renovated and transformed into an office building under a plan approved by the City Council Monday night.

The iconic building at 661 Bryant St., was constructed in 1916 and has housed the First Church of Christ, Scientist, until 2006, when the church merged with the Second Church of Christ, Scientist.

In 2008, the company ECI Three Bryant, LLC, purchased the building with the intention of preserving and upgrading the building, which is considered one of the area's best examples of Mission Revival architectural style.

On Monday, the council unanimously endorsed the company's plan to preserve the building and to create office space on the ground floor. The council also granted the applicant the right to develop more than 5,000 square feet at a different site, as part an incentive to preserve the historic features of the structure.

The project was prompted by the city's policy of giving development "bonuses" to builders who preserve historic structures.

The proposal also includes a new handicap ramp and replacement of the tinted glass in 22 of the church's windows. The "historic opalescent glass" at five other windows would also be replaced and new landscaping installed.

Councilman Larry Klein called the proposed renovation a "superb project," one that would make a "great contribution to our community." The city's Historic Resources Board had also unanimously approved the project, though it added more than 20 conditions of approval.

"In the 94 years it's been here it's almost unchanged," David Bower, chair of the board, said. "It's pretty unique in terms of historic architecture in this city."

— Gennady Sheyner

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