High school teachers laud campus building plans
Gunn educator: 'We will be squared away for decades to come'
Teachers from Gunn and Palo Alto high schools expressed enthusiasm Tuesday night for new campus buildings they said will improve teaching and learning.
"This new building will bring us all together, rather than being spread out all over campus with some in portables," Gunn French teacher Anne Jensen told the Board of Education.
"We now have 14 teachers using nine desks, and no private area to talk with students when they come to talk with us about their grades. Now we'll have offices with meeting areas and we'll all be near the language lab," said Jensen, who heads Gunn's World Languages Department.
Paly journalism teacher Paul Kandell said he is "almost speechless at how wonderful" the school's new Media Arts Building will be.
"In my own head I keep thinking of it as the media arts temple," he told the school board. Fellow media arts teachers Esther Wojcicki, Margo Wixsom and Ellen Austin echoed Kandell's comments.
Austin said the state-of-the-art building, modeled after the Walter Cronkite School at Arizona State University, will be an architectural reminder of the cutting-edge work Paly's program attempts to foster.
"It's a real gift to the children who are going to be in it for decades," she said.
The teachers attended the school board meeting to express support for five major new buildings on the two campuses. Groundbreaking is expected in June 2011, pending state approvals.
The school board will be asked to approve schematic designs for the buildings Jan. 26.
At Paly, the $34 million worth of upgrades call for the new Media Arts Building on the Embarcadero Road side of the campus and a two-story, 38,000-square-foot math and social-studies building near the corporation yard.
At Gunn, the $37 million worth of upgrades include a new, two-story, 38,000-square-foot math and English building, a separate, 6,650-square-foot World Languages Building, a new gymnasium that will seat 1,900 students and renovations to the existing 1,400-seat gym.
The two-story classroom building will be located in the area known as Titan Village, which has long held portable classrooms.
"In a word, 'Wow,'" Gunn Athletic Director Chris Horpel said to the board. "I think we've stretched our dollars really far and we'll be squared away for decades to come."
The new buildings at Gunn and Paly comprise Phase 1 of the spending of Measure A funds, a $378 million facilities bond approved by 78 percent of voters in June 2008.
The measure was intended to equip Palo Alto's 17 campuses for the coming decades, making room for anticipated enrollment growth.
Staff Writer Chris Kenrick can be e-mailed at email@example.com.