Major construction to greet high school students

Long-planned projects will sprout on a half-dozen campuses this fall

Construction projects will be underway when Palo Alto's high school students return to their campuses this fall.

August groundbreakings are likely for new, two-story classroom buildings on both campuses as well as for a new media arts center at Palo Alto High School and a new gymnasium and a second, single-story classroom building at Gunn.

For Gunn students, an added bonus may offset the inconvenience of construction: Newly installed air-conditioning will blow cool air in old classrooms that students have long complained were stifling.

Throughout Palo Alto's 17 public school campuses, projects that have been on the drawing boards since the passage of a $378 million facilities bond measure in 2008 are finally coming to fruition.

The high school project price tags -- $37.8 million for Gunn and $37 million for Paly -- represent the largest yet under the bond measure, which was backed by 77.5 percent of district voters.

The stated goal was to "expand, upgrade and improve" campuses to extend their useful lives and accommodate enrollment growth.

Gunn and Paly are being prepared for capacities of 2,350 each (current enrollment is 1,879 at Gunn and 1,860 at Paly).

JLS and Jordan middle schools are being expanded to accommodate 1,100 students each (current headcount at JLS is 1,007 and at Jordan 983). Terman is slated to remain stable at 675.

At the fast-growing elementary level, up to 40 classrooms are being added city-wide to make room for a possible 900 additional students in the next five years.

Beyond the projects at Paly and Gunn, the coming school year will see major activity on the following campuses:

At Ohlone Elementary School, a new, two-story building with 12 classrooms -- under construction since last fall -- will be ready for occupancy by winter break.

At Terman Middle School, a late fall groundbreaking is likely for renovations that include a complete remodeling of the administration and library wing as well as the cafetorium food area; the addition of a drama classroom and miscellaneous classroom improvements.

At Jordan, JLS and Fairmeadow Elementary School, groundbreaking is likely shortly after the December holidays for various projects.

At Jordan, that includes a new, six-classroom wing paralleling the science wing now visible from Middlefield Road, as well as a new cafetorium that will be connected to the old cafetorium. The old cafetorium space will be reconfigured for music classrooms.

At JLS, a new, two-story building will contain 10 classrooms, with a new courtyard and amphitheater.

Construction at Fairmeadow will include a new two-story classroom building as well as relocation of kindergartners -- and their play area -- from classrooms facing East Meadow Drive to a wing next to the library.

Future rounds of construction will include a new, state-of-the-art performing arts center at Paly as well as a new, two-story classroom building at Duveneck.

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