UPDATE: The school board unanimously approved these two items related to the Palo Alto High School athletic center project 3 to 0 with President Melissa Baten Caswell and member Ken Dauber absent.
The Palo Alto school board will convene for a special meeting Monday, July 13, to take action on two items relating to Palo Alto High School's new athletic center, a significant project made possible by a local family's multi-million dollar donation.
Staff is recommending that the board authorize the superintendent to execute the final version of a "grant award agreement" for the Peery family's $24 million donation to build the state-of-the-art athletic center. The proposed complex -- two gyms connected by an enclosed loggia, or hallway -- will wrap around three sides of Paly's existing swimming pool, replacing the school's historic 85-year-old gym. The dedicated square footage for Paly's athletic purposes will more than double under the project, according to the district.
Staff is also asking the board on Monday to approve an amendment to the project's "lease-leaseback" agreement, which allows the district to choose the Peery family's preferred contractor, Vance Brown, rather than entering a competitive bidding process and choosing the lowest bidder.
The board will have to waive its two-meeting requirement to take action on these two items, which if approved would then return for ratification at an August meeting.
The board last discussed the project on June 23. They unanimously approved the lease-leaseback agreement as well as an escrow agreement that provides for the deposit of the Peery family's donation money and a resolution authorizing the county to establish a separate bond fund for the district's share of payments to Vance Brown.
The district's budgeted share for this project has grown from $5.7 million to now, $17,671,555. Of that amount, about $13 million will go to Vance Brown (which, plus the Peery family's donation, covers the contractor's total cost of $36 million) and the remaining $4.6 million is for other construction and "soft" costs. The $17.6 comes from the $378 Strong Schools Bond measure that Palo Alto voters passed in 2008 to fund new construction throughout the school district.
Seven years ago, when a renovation, rather than full replacement, of the gym and weight rooms was identified as part of the Strong Schools Bond, the estimated cost for the full scope of work was $15,466,000, according to the district. With inflation that amount has risen to an estimated $18,636,000. There are also design costs and expenses for things like landscaping, pool maintenance, moving costs and new equipment.
The total budget for the project is now $41.6 million.
On July 9, the district received a draft of another document, the grant award letter, from Deseret Trust Company, sponsor of the Peery Family Fund. The Peerys and district have been editing this document; the board's authorization is needed for the superintendent to sign off on the final version.
District Bond Program Manager Bob Golton noted in a staff report that the project is "taking place at a later date than anticipated due to the need to edit and come to agreement on the documents." (Plans originally called for groundbreaking in June 2014 and occupancy by August 2015.)
"Because of this, some amendment to the Lease-Leaseback agreement, with the approval of both the District and Vance Brown, may be made," the staff report reads.
The board's meeting will begin at noon on Monday, July 13, in district headquarters, Room B, at 25 Churchill Ave. Read the full agenda here.