Paly gym demo now slated for September

Cost estimates also up for athletic center, performing-arts center projects

School officials last week disclosed several last-minute changes in plans as Palo Alto High School prepares to embark on two new major construction projects.

Demolition of the old gyms — originally expected to occur soon after last week's graduation — is now projected for September.

Cost estimates also have increased for the new athletic center that will replace the gyms, bringing the school district's share from $5.47 million to an estimated $12.57 million. The bulk of the $20 million-plus new, two-gym athletic center is being donated by the Peery family, which has sent three generations to Paly.

Superintendent Kevin Skelly disclosed the change of plans in his May 30 Weekly Memo, and the gym project will be up for discussion by the Board of Education June 17.

Completion date for the new athletic center is now projected for March 2016, Skelly said. He attributed the hold-up to questions and clarifications over plans that arose from the Division of the State Architect in Sacramento, which must approve architectural plans for all public school buildings.

In another development, cost estimates for Paly's Performing Arts Center — also soon to break ground — went up nearly $5 million, bringing the project's total budget to $29.37 million.

The state-of-the-art performance center, to rise on the Embarcadero Road edge of campus, will include a 583-seat theater, a lobby with restrooms, tickets, concessions and a gallery area as well as classroom and storage space.

The school board Tuesday unanimously approved the budget increase, authorizing the funds to come from two other Paly projects — Tower Building upgrades and Career Technical Education projects. Districtwide construction manager Tom Hodges told the board the trade-offs were approved by a Paly site committee, including parents, students and staff, overseeing campus construction.

Officials attributed the cost increase to rising competition for construction workers in the area as well as costs associated with a new legal requirement that all mechanical, electrical and plumbing subcontractors be prequalified.

Hodges — whose firm's $1.1 million contract for 2014-15 also was discussed by the board Tuesday — expressed the hope that funds still will be available to modernize restrooms and install an elevator in the Tower Building.

Two other major building projects at Paly recently were completed: a two-story, 27-classroom building for the math and social sciences departments and a two-story, 23,000-square-foot Media Arts Building.

The Paly construction, as well as new construction and upgrades across the school district's 17 campuses, is being funded by the $378 million "Strong Schools" bond approved by voters in 2008.

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Like this comment
Posted by test
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 6, 2014 at 10:14 am


Like this comment
Posted by Jim H.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 6, 2014 at 1:58 pm

Typical government project. Get approval and public buy in at one price and then jack up the price. The gym project hasn't even started and the cost to the district has more than doubled. The cost of the theater has already grown 20%.

These increases are already costing over $12M and they haven't even started demolition. Does anyone think the costs won't continue to build?

Like this comment
Posted by air quality
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 6, 2014 at 2:16 pm

They will demo during the school year, so everyone can eat dirt?

That is so irresponsible with allergies, and upper respiratory issues.

Like this comment
Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 6, 2014 at 5:19 pm

What is it with the Weekly and the schools? Any other community would just go with the flow and deal with reality. Please, someone show me evidence that any other district is under this kind of scrutiny. Yes, it sucks to deal with construction but it has to be done. I think the high school students will get over it. Not sure about the parents.

Ask any homeowner who has done any remodeling or building. Yes, prices go up. It's the price we pay for living in this community.

Like this comment
Posted by air quality
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 6, 2014 at 5:28 pm


I don't know what's up with the Weekly, I have just been told that $12 million is going to a gym 2/3 of the school will never use, and they can't bother to demolish when school is not in session?

I'll give a pass on the money, but incompetence to not demolish during the summer?

What is the excuse for that?

Like this comment
Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 6, 2014 at 5:51 pm

@air quality - the excuse for not doing demo in the summer is a lack of permission from the State.

Like this comment
Posted by air quality
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 6, 2014 at 6:09 pm

[Post removed.]

Like this comment
Posted by village fool
a resident of another community
on Jun 7, 2014 at 7:51 am

air what?

Like this comment
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 7, 2014 at 11:53 am

Are there any pressing reasons a new gym needs to be built? A delay may not be a big deal.

Is there any reason why the old gym can't remain on the property? Many athletic-friendly high schools have two or even three gyms.

Perhaps Paly can revisit this now?

Like this comment
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 8, 2014 at 10:49 pm

The old gym has seismic issues that go well above the replacement cost of building an exact replica.

Like this comment
Posted by YSK
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 18, 2014 at 10:02 pm

Now there won't be any gyms for two seasons. This situation is ridiculous. Leave one gym for use while building the other. The old gym was really special and unique. Too bad it's all about money and ostentatious displays of wealth. No continuity of local history. It's a damn shame.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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