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District explores buying Bowman campus

Original post made on Jan 11, 2013

In search of more space for growing middle-school enrollment, the Palo Alto school district is exploring the idea of buying the campus of Bowman International School, an independent K-8 school adjacent to Terman Middle School on Arastradero Road.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, January 11, 2013, 9:39 AM

Comments (15)

Posted by David, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 11, 2013 at 10:24 am

Expanding an existing school, particularly the smallest of three, is the obvious thing to do, rather than establish a fourth middle school.


Posted by mutti, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jan 11, 2013 at 11:25 am

Great idea! School buildings are already built,just take down the fence. Bowman wants more space so needs to move elsewhere (where??? that's the rub...) This is land that originally belonged to Terman anyway.


Posted by Barron Park parent, a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 11, 2013 at 11:40 am

What creative thinking! It's a great idea. Bowman can't expand on that site either. Could be a win-win for PAUSD and Bowman students.


Posted by neighbor, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 11, 2013 at 12:23 pm

A classic case of sell low, buy high?!
They should have hung onto the land in the first place. Many of us disagreed with the decision to get rid of it - it is PRIME real estate.
I also think PAUSD should have kept Cubberley.
Anyone else recall how they almost closed Gunn??
Land is valuable around here and the school district should not have disposed of it so cavalierly. Thank goodness there was strong opposition to getting rid of Gunn! Maybe there would be a huge private high school or a high tech business campus there now.


Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jan 11, 2013 at 1:36 pm

> Land is valuable around here

Yes it is. This is one of the reasons that the District should be building "up" and not "out".

Aerial View of Palo Alto High School:
Web Link

Aerial View of Gunn High School:
Web Link

Both of these schools are barely using 40% of the area of the school site for their educational/instructional purpose.

The elementary schools often show the same 40% use footprint, making additional 2nd story additions obvious answers to their growth requirements.


Posted by Bigger Farm, a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 11, 2013 at 4:25 pm

"Land is valuable around here and the school district should not have disposed of it so cavalierly. Thank goodness there was strong opposition to getting rid of Gunn! Maybe there would be a huge private high school or a high tech business campus there now."

They would have moved the middle school to the Gunn campus. PAUSD cannot sell the land at Gunn because it doesn't own it. Stanford does.


Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jan 11, 2013 at 4:37 pm

> Maybe there would be a huge private high school or a high
> tech business campus there now."

No, not likely. As I understand it, the land reverts to Stanford control if the PAUSD ceases to use it for a school. If it were to be used for a private school, it would have to obtain Stanford's consent, and negotiate an acceptable lease with the University.


Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 11, 2013 at 5:13 pm

Stanford doesn't sell their land, they lease it.


Posted by neighbor, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 11, 2013 at 6:55 pm

I bet Stanford would have leased it out to somebody. I highly doubt such a visible plot of land as the one occupied by Gunn High, a key public high school, would be left vacant. Thank goodness they didn't close that school.
-From a Gunn alumna.


Posted by True Blue, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jan 11, 2013 at 11:30 pm

@Wayne Martin; EXACTLY!!!!!!!!! Why our district is eliminating playing fields and grassy areas for our kids to run and play rather than re-building existing one-story buildings into two-story is beyond me. I have to believe their is some rationale other than short-term cost savings or my head would explode.

@neighbor: PAUSD still owns 27 acres of Cubberley while the city owns 8 acres. PAUSD leases their 27 acres to the city for 6 or 7 million dollars a year. Nice income for PAUSD and they can take it back in the future if that is the most cost-effective use. I raise this because it's one of the smart things PAUSD did when it came to property.


Posted by Farmer Ted, a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 11, 2013 at 11:31 pm

You guys are missing the point. If Gunn closed, the middle school would have been moved there. PAUSD had no desire to have the land revert back to Stanford. Now, would they have then sold the land that JLS is on?


Posted by OK, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 12, 2013 at 4:06 pm

They sold Terman to the City, now with the cooperation of the City they bought it back. However, the City still owns the playing fields at Terman.


Posted by what were they thinking, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2013 at 12:44 am

The city is giving back Cubberley and has wanted to for years. PAUSD's responsibility is to educate our kids, not to be a landlord to make a small fraction of the total budget at the expense of strategic facilities planning.

The above push to go two-story is kneejerk and the result of poor understanding of what is happening and the issues.

The district IS building up. Much of the new construction IS two story, even though it is hugely costly for less benefit than posters assume. Refer to p. 64 of State of CA
Public School Construction Cost Reduction Guidelines:
Web Link

"In general, it is not cost effective to use multistory construction just to save land cost. The multistory construction cost is more expensive than one story, and generally there is not a significant reduction in land usage (and therefore cost) to offset the additional construction cost."

The document suggests remedies which our district did not pursue in earnest.

Smart single-story redesign could have done a better job modernizing our campuses, because it would have let us redo far more of the campuses for the same money and probably rebuild Cubberley in the budget, because per square foot, it's simply much, much cheaper to build and operate. Redesigning larger swaths of the campuses with smarter one-story designs, and at the high school level, making Gunn and Paly SMALLER schools (rather than LARGER as currently, while rebuilding and reopening Cubberley) would have allowed for more open space at all. Multistory buildings cut off sunlight and close in campuses in other ways. Regardless, the current patchwork is the most expensive thing we could have done, accomplishing the least overall.


Posted by Michele, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jan 14, 2013 at 3:34 pm

Hate to be a fly in the ointment but isn't the traffic almost unbearable in the mornings on Arastradero now. Another school there?


Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 14, 2013 at 4:02 pm

It's not another school...it's expanding the existing school in place of an already existing private school.

Same purpose and usage...just changing over to public instead of private school usage.


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