News

Palo Alto school board moves forward on Paly gym project

Board to hold special meeting on Monday

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.

Comments

41 people like this
Posted by How does this add up?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 12, 2015 at 9:49 pm

So let me get this straight. The district built an athletic center at Gunn for $12 million. It then got a gift from the Peery family (thank you, very grateful for the generosity!) for $24million, which was the justification for spending twice as much as at Gunn. Then, in order to accept the gift, the district will have to spend $13 million and have no control of the project?


4 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 12, 2015 at 10:10 pm

Now I'm confused. I thought the gift was for a gym at Paly, not Gunn, with the city having to spend $13 million at Paly, not Gunn.

Someone please clarify how Gunn comes into it. Thanks.


2 people like this
Posted by Adds up nicely
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 12, 2015 at 10:14 pm

[Post removed.]


23 people like this
Posted by How does this add up?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 13, 2015 at 12:08 am

@Online Name,

The City doesn't have anything to do with the school district at all, first of all. The school district is a completely different governmental body, with a budget on the same order as the entire City. Although, there is something in the City Charter defining the role of superintendent and how many school board members, which makes me wonder how much we could improve through Citywide initiative.

Anyhoo...

Yes, the gift was for a gym. Pointing out that a brand new athletic center at Gunn just cost us $12 million was for comparison. So we got a gift of TWICE that for a new athletic center at the other high school, and it was supposed to be a FREE gym. And yet somehow the school district ends up in a situation in which it has to throw in even MORE than it did to build a new athletic center at the school across town in order to accept the gift, while also giving up all control over the project.

We were just asked to task ourselves an additional amount of money that almost exactly equals the extra money we're being asked to chip in for this gym, in order to pay for such basic things as teacher salaries and mental health workers. How is it that we couldn't just be happy with an athletic center that is only TWICE the cost of the new one across town so that we could use that money for more essential things?


6 people like this
Posted by How does this add up?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 13, 2015 at 12:13 am

Correction (though probably everyone caught that):

We were just asked to TAX ourselves an additional aount of money that almost exactly equals the extra money we're being asked to chip in for this gym, in order to pay for such basic things as teacher salaries and mental health workers. How is it that we couldn't just be happy with an athletic center that is only TWICE the cost of the new one across town so that we could use that money for more essential things?


3 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 13, 2015 at 12:28 am

Let me rephrase to clarify that I meant the school district, rather than the city itself, was spending the $13,000,000:

"Now I'm confused. I thought the gift was for a gym at Paly, not Gunn, with the SCHOOL DISTRICT having to spend another $13 million at Paly, not Gunn.

Someone please clarify how Gunn comes into it. Thanks."


33 people like this
Posted by How does this add up?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 13, 2015 at 2:40 am

@Online Name,

[Portion removed.]

The school district was able to build a new athletic center for Gunn recently for $12 million. It's a benchmark. A comparison. You know - here's what we spent to get a new athletic center at the other school across town.

So now we have $24 million at Paly. Why isn't that enough? Why is TWICE what we spent at Gunn not enough? Why does the school district have to chip in another $13million at Paly, which is by itself more than was just spent at Gunn to build their new athletic center, in order to get the freebie?

Recapping:

New athletic center at Gunn: Built for $12 million, the district managed the construction
New athletic center at Paly: District is committing a $24million donation, and has to pitch in $13million on top of that, the district will have no control over the construction.

If the donor wishes to have control over they construction, they should pony up all the money they think it needs. As it is, it's hard to understand why TWICE what was spent at Gunn isn't sufficient, why does the district have to also pitch in more money than was spent just recently to build the athletic center at Gunn? (I mean, looking at this without rose-colored glasses, if I wanted to get a school district to hire my buddy to build a project, whadya say I dangle a large donation, then make it conditional on the school district hiring my buddy to do the work then also pitch in more than the cost of the most recent example of the same job the district just did? Since my buddy has control over everything -- lease leaseback -- whose to say I didn't just get the district to pay for everything and hire my buddy?)

It's not like the district has any entity involved in making sure our money is spent WELL. (Sorry, not what the oversight committee does, ask them yourself.)


10 people like this
Posted by Ro Davis
a resident of another community
on Jul 13, 2015 at 8:19 am

The discussion of new indoor athletic facilities, as well as the corresponding donation of $24M by the Peery Foundation has been ongoing for well over a year now. The PAUSD School Board is now being asked to finalize the details of the project. Seems like complaints about the project should have been lodged a long time ago. And this should not be a discussion about Paly v Gunn. Gunn's new gym was built with bond money. Paly's gyms were built in 1971 (circa) and 1925 so it might be time to replace them. I think it's pretty cool that Peery is willing to donate that kind of money, frankly and I have no problem with them using their own contractor who has done extensive work at Stanford.

FYI: I am a Paly grad (3rd generation Paly) and I taught in the district for many years.


27 people like this
Posted by How does this add up?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 13, 2015 at 8:39 am

@Ro Davis,

The throwing in of additional $13 million in district funds -- which is more than covered building a gym for the other high school recently -- seems to have been a parting shot of Skelly's and as we all know, we had no super for awhile and then McGee has a full plate when he arrived. You have offered only a non-reason to avoid looking objectively at this problem.

[Portion removed.]

No one is suggesting Paly shouldn't replace the gym. No one suggesting we shouldn't take or be grateful for the $24 million.

But the board should show us they can add, and that they aren't spitting on the voting public for the tax we just handed them, by requiring the project live within the initial $24 million budget, which is by itself TWICE what we were able to build an athletic center for the other high school recently. They just told us how dire the need for $13 million was during the Measure A campaign, and now they are throwing that same amount in like it's some kind of gratuity.


Recapping:

-District built a new athletic center for $12 million

-District got a gift to build another athletic center for TWICE that, for $24 million

-In order to take the $24 million, district has to spend $13 million for the next new athletic center, AND they have to let someone else have complete control of the process.

-District has no oversight at all (even less than the almost non-existent oversight is otherwise has).


Everyone was already willing to overlook the parity problem because the $24 million was a gift. OK, build the thing for just TWICE the amount we built the other athletic center across town. If it requires us to pitch in yet another $13 million, then it's not a gift.

This looks all the world like what's called "bait and switch".



9 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 13, 2015 at 9:41 am

PAUSD needs to move off the Paly campus to Cubberley. Then instead of spending $37 million for their gym, they might establish better priorities.


14 people like this
Posted by Stop whining
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 13, 2015 at 10:00 am

Gunn has nothing to do with it so stop complaining about it, it was a gift to PALO ALTO HIGH SCHOOL to replace the old gyms, this was not a donation to the district who desires to spend it just on play, so will all you Titans stop your whining about this


16 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 13, 2015 at 10:55 am

A little clarity may help here:

- The Gunn project was for an additional gym (seats nearly 2000) and a wrestling room.
- Gunn also used additional monies to update the existing gym and ancillary rooms.
- The Paly project is the replacement of two gyms, not one.
- The Paly project includes replacing both locker rooms (also larger capcity since the 1925 men's locker room is significantly undersized for the current student body population).
- The Paly project will replace the one coach office (shared by all coaches and PE staff, 15x15) with sufficient offices.
- The Paly project will replace the weight room (currently the size of a two car garage) and will be larger for today's student population.
- The Paly project will add bathroom facilities for the pool (none exist today)

I won't debate the costs...but at least appreciate that the Paly project is not just replacing two gyms. It is replacing and then expanding all of the athletic facilities to sufficiently serve a student body population of 2000+.


14 people like this
Posted by Rachel
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jul 13, 2015 at 10:55 am

I am glad to hear that Vance Brown will be the contractor. A much better idea than choosing the lowest bidder who often misses details in the bidding process and ends up charging for a lot of extra work and or sues PAUSD. Vance Brown has a good reputation for finishing projects on time with strict deadlines (Stanford Stadium) and their leadership has strong ties to the Palo Alto Community. At least you know what you are getting and paying for with Vance Brown. I say move forward already PAUSD!


10 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jul 13, 2015 at 11:01 am

While I don't quite agree with Stop Whining's sentiments, I do agree that the Paly gym situation is different from Gunn's. First, Gunn got one new gym; their one existing gym was in better condition (newer and larger than Paly's gyms), so they needed one new one. Paly needs two new gyms (one main and one smaller), which is what they are getting in this project. Second, I believe Gunn's gym construction was several years ago, during an economic downturn when construction costs were lower than they are now.

In my opinion, How Does This Add Up is distorting the situation in his/her posts (maybe trolling?).


6 people like this
Posted by historic gym
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 13, 2015 at 11:14 am

Paly had the best gym in the county--and, now they are throwing it away? Gunn refurbished their old gym--Paly could do the same and save a lot of money while maintaining the historic look--definitely a home court advantage to the paly teams. it is an intimidating place to play as a visitor.

BUT PLEASE STOP WITH THE NONSENSE OF TAXING THE PEOPLE OF PALO ALTO FOR THIS PROJECT!! Paly has already spent over 8 million of our tax dollars for their athletic fields. seems like 24 + 13 is approx 37 million for a new gym. REALLY?? that is just crazy. 37 million?? and the people are being taxed for this nonsense.


6 people like this
Posted by Fred
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 13, 2015 at 11:21 am

Agree that the scope of this project is larger / different than Gunn's. Also, doing the work at Paly is generally more costly due to the density and age of the site. All that said, there is no question this is a deluxe project, that is coming in more expensive that anyone expected, and the district is contributing quite a bit more than originally planned. The Paly gym will be much nicer than the Gunn gym, or indeed any gym around, from what I'm told.


Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 13, 2015 at 11:51 am

That is why this entity will not see any penny from me.


16 people like this
Posted by How does this add up
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 13, 2015 at 12:13 pm

@Brian and @Dad,

You are justifying, not explaining. The additional $13 million from the district had nothing to do with changing economic factors in forming the contracts, that's just a fact.

Even if you are saying the Paly project is 2 gyms (?) -- using the $12 million Gunn athletic center cost as a benchmark -- that's $12 million plus $12 million = $24 million. The district should not have to pitch in more than 100% the cost of an athletic center in order to use this "gift". (Even making excuses about the economy - that aren't really what happened, but nevermind that - doesn't in any way account for that kind of increase.)

The fact is, there is no entity here on the district's side making sure we get the most for our money. Is this a gift or is it not a gift? If it's a gift, then the giver should let the district accept it as a gift. Using their contractor, ok. Making us pitch in another $13 million when we just built an athletic center for $12 million?

Sorry, doesn't pass the smell test.


Like this comment
Posted by Lois
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 13, 2015 at 12:21 pm

It's time the School District built a new auditorium at Gunn just like the new one at Paly!!! Supposedly, it is School District policy to spend the same amount on each high school, clearly that is not happening so next time they ask me for money, I shall vote a resounding "NO".


7 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 13, 2015 at 12:33 pm

If you were to use the Gunn new gym as a benchmark, then $24 million would be required to build the two new gyms at Paly. Now add in the replacement and expansion of locker rooms, offices, classrooms, weight room and most likely all new infrastructure (water, sewer, electrical, drainage, etc.). Plus they are adding some facilities for the pool so that both Gunn and Paly are closer to being the same.

BTW, I don't recall any protests when the Paly pool, lights and scoreboard and timing system was built entirely with donated funds and the Gunn pool (plus bathrooms, office, classroom and indoor storage) was built with district funds.


6 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 13, 2015 at 12:40 pm

Gunn has had the its 900+ seat theater since it opened. It has a fly, a modern sized stage and lighting. The Gunn theater is receiving district money to upgrade its facilities and will also add on performing arts classroom spaces connected to the theater.

The Paly theater will have a fly and modern size stage and lighting as well. However the seating capacity will be approximately 400 less than the Gunn theater.


1 person likes this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 13, 2015 at 12:43 pm

The measurement goal is "equivalent" facilities between the two schools, not what is spent from year to year.


9 people like this
Posted by senor blogger
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 13, 2015 at 12:54 pm

Lease-Leaseback means the School District is released from the constraints of the Public Contract Code and the Board of Education requirements for public contracts.
I applaud this move, the City should adopt this stance for all its future Public Works projects.

I predict there will be an on budget, on schedule completion with little or no claims.

Take Note City Hall.


13 people like this
Posted by mutti allen
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 13, 2015 at 12:57 pm

'historic gym' said Paly had the best gym in the County??? Had he/she ever been there??? It was old and tiny and built in 1925. The whole athletic facility needs rebuilding. Thanks to Peery's for being so generous.

There was a large fuss when someone donated money to rebuild the Paly pool 10+ years ago because it was already a much better pool than the one at Gunn. The district had previously said it would only take donations for equal amounts to various schools, but then reneged when a $1 million donation to Paly pool was offered and wouldn't be given without that restriction. Then the Gunn pool did get rebuilt with bond money.

Legally all donations are to PAUSD -- it is the legal fiscal entity. But donors can put on whatever restrictions they want, including for use at specific school sites for specific projects. Then the School Board decides whether to accept the donation or not.

The Lease-Leaseback agreement is a GREAT idea. Simplistically, Peerys "lease" the land from PAUSD and then builds a gym on the property. Then PAUSD "leases back" the gym for use by students. PAUSD otherwise would have to choose the lowest bidder. And contractors regularly underbid to get the deal, then add in 'change orders' to get their profit up. Mitchell Park Library is a prime example of that. Peerys have built many, many office buildings in Santa Clara County and know what they are doing.


3 people like this
Posted by Palo Verde Parent
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 13, 2015 at 2:20 pm

The new Gunn Gym includes a weight room, a few coaches offices, snack bar area and dance studio. It does not include a training room, locker rooms or enough coaches offices. The Paly complex includes all of the above.

It is a very generous gift and in the long run, the complex will last a very long time and in that sense be cost effective.


Posted by Almost 65
a resident of Charleston Meadows

on Jul 13, 2015 at 2:54 pm


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Posted by Almost 65
a resident of Evergreen Park

on Jul 13, 2015 at 3:08 pm


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4 people like this
Posted by Accountant
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 13, 2015 at 4:45 pm

The total budget for the project is now $41.6 million per Palo Alto Weekly. Contractors Cost: $36M, Soft Cost of $4.6M. $1.0M not mentioned.

Donation of $24M. Leave $17.6M shortfall.

I can see that the cost for the new gyms at Paly be greater than the $24M since they are getting two new gyms. (Since it was established that Gunn cost $12M without an air conditioning). It seems that the cost should be closer to $24M than the $41.6M. I as a reader of the article would like to understand why the cost is going be $17.6M higher. Part of this cost could be that the district would not have to manage this, the air conditioning units etc.


3 people like this
Posted by Peter P
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 13, 2015 at 4:57 pm

@ Senor blogger - How can you predict that it will be on budget? Which budget? The original budget was a $20M donation from Peery and a $6M contribution from PAUSD. Now it's $24M from Peery and $13 from PAUSD. So, before ground has been broken, they're already $11M over budget from when the project was approved.

Yes the donation is great. But, it slowly feels like a bait and switch. It will be interesting to see what PAUSD's final contribution turns out to be. I predict it will be closer to $15M, or pretty close to the original Peery donation.

One big reason for my skepticism is that the district continues to place blame for why this project (originally scheduled to be COMPLETED by Aug 2016) is so far off target. First they blamed the issue with the state architect and that the plans weren't approved. Is this the first building PAUSD is building? Did not ALL of their other projects have to go through the state architect??? Now they're blaming the paperwork issues on Peery's side.

The lone bright spot is that Peery is in charge of the construction and not the district.


8 people like this
Posted by Sylvia
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 13, 2015 at 5:43 pm

I second an earlier person's being glad that Vance Brown will be building the new Paly gym project. They are a FABULOUS company. My company works as a sub-contractor for them often, and you could not ask for a more professional and ethical company. If they'd gotten the bid (probably not low bidder) for the Mitchell Park library, I doubt we'd have had the horror story, lawsuit and counter-lawsuit mess we got. Their offices are in Palo Alto and the current president is the son of the founder, Vance Brown.


10 people like this
Posted by How does this add up?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 13, 2015 at 5:56 pm

Meanwhile, our students are stressed out and hospitalized/killing themselves, with an unacceptable achievement gap, and we put lots of money into deluxe price tags for the two existing high schools. Look at what we built the much maligned Mitchell Park community center and library for -- on the order of what is going to be spent for the new gym at Paly. If we were careful with our money, we could reopen Cubberley for not much more (even as a tear down - in fact, probably cheaper). Recall Foothill wanted to build for that amount, too. OK, the Paly gym is a gift. We should only say yes to moving forward if it remains a gift, not an expensive controlling of district priorities and expenditures by someone who has no legal basis to do so.

Spangenberg is an old cavernous turkey in great need of renovation. Anyone who thinks the Paly and Gunn campuses have any parity is just spinning a yarn.


13 people like this
Posted by Jerry Fletcher
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jul 13, 2015 at 6:00 pm

Only in Palo Alto do more wild thoughts abound than in my newsletter, Conspiracy Theory!

The Gunn Gym project and the PALY Athletic Center projects are completely different in scope and size. The PALY project is not twice the size of the Gunn Gym ( it is larger), so one cannot fairly use a multiplier of two to ascertain relative value between the two projects. The projects are also separated by four years of time, so that any cost comparison should also be inflation adjusted.

If one were to do some accurate research of the relevant factors of the two projects and THEN make a comparison, one would likely conclude that PAUSD received a very generous gift for the PALY Athletic Center, that PAUSD is getting excellent value for its contribution to project costs and that the PALY Athletic Center project is more cost effective (on a $/SF basis) than the Gunn Gym project was.


12 people like this
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 13, 2015 at 7:53 pm

Thank you Peery Fsmily for your generosity and support to make Pslo Alto a better place for children.


12 people like this
Posted by Lets buy Nero a new fiddle
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 13, 2015 at 9:02 pm

Gifts to the school system should be to the schools system, not to specific projects at a specific location. Of course, generosity and charity is appreciated, but with so many strings attached, seems a bit self serving. One would think that the school board could best decide where the funds are most needed and make the system as a whole, better... Just my two cents...


1 person likes this
Posted by historic gym
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 13, 2015 at 9:33 pm

yes, mutti allen-- i have not only been there, but played there. it was / is a great gym and very intimidating for the visitors. there was a sense of pride to be able to play in such a great gym as the Paly gym. i don't belittle the donation. but this gym should have been refurbished to look the same--not some modern bells and whistles type gym--and, REALLY the public has to pay for another mandated school bond for Paly? this is just ridiculous. i will resist any bond Paly ever tries to push on to the public again. if they want some fancy new gadget, go buy it themselves and quite complaining that they have no money. for gosh sakes these kids are spoiled enough. they need to learn what it is like in the real world. we are doing them no favors by giving them more than they even ask for.


2 people like this
Posted by just a thought
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 14, 2015 at 9:24 am

is the Peery's very generous donation not good enough for the Palo Alto elite? they want to nearly double the project cost? and, of course put the bill on the palo alto residents. (TAX) since when does one laugh in the face of a $24 Mil donation?


4 people like this
Posted by How does this add up?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 14, 2015 at 10:29 am

"we are doing them no favors by giving them more than they even ask for"

In the meantime, very basic issues go unaddressed across the district, kids still mostly eat lunch on the ground on some campuses, most/all elementaries don't have gyms at all, most of the classrooms across the district are in pretty sad shape despite the bond, etc


7 people like this
Posted by gym
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 14, 2015 at 10:54 am

the school board moves forward?? it took two years to get to this headline? the school board moves forward? REALLY? Two years!! this project has been screwed up right from the start. instead of saying thank you very much to the donor--immediate bickering went up with parents/ board members--that isn't good enough--we want this, we want that. TWO YEARS later ==the school board moves forward?? REALLY.


4 people like this
Posted by PA Teacher
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 14, 2015 at 11:06 am

@how does this add up-

There are plenty of places to eat at all campuses. The kids who eat on the ground choose to eat on the ground. We have many shaded area with benches/ tables that go unused. All elementary schools have a Multi purpose room used for all kinds of activities. Not sure what schools you have seen, but everyone I have seen has been improved by B4E and other Measures. They are far from sad.


19 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 14, 2015 at 4:46 pm

The Peery family have been generous philanthropists to Palo Alto and we are very lucky to be the recipients of their generosity! Thank you Peery Family!


8 people like this
Posted by How does this add up?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 14, 2015 at 5:05 pm

@PA Teacher,

None of the elementary schools have proper gyms, and the multi-purpose rooms are heavily used for all kinds of purposes as you say and either not available for and/or not appropriate for real gym activities. None of the schools I know use the multi-purpose rooms as gyms or have gym equipment in the MP rooms. None of the elementary schools have hot-meal cafeterias.

As for places for kids to eat lunch, JLS, for example, has 1,000 students and does not have 1,000 places for kids to sit and eat at tables. Additional planters were added during the bond, if kids don't care about sitting together or having a table, and draining was repaired so at least kids were not sitting in mud as they used to, but generally there still isn't space for all kids to sit. They still just get used to sitting on the ground because of circumstances.

Maybe you are one of the lucky teachers in a new classroom, but the majority of district classrooms are in still objectively old and even dilapidated buildings.

The district just pleaded poor to ask for a $13million supplemental tax for basics like your salary. Now you are defending throwing around the same amount of money like it's pocket change?


4 people like this
Posted by PA Teacher
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 14, 2015 at 7:42 pm

@how does this add up-

I am only speaking to your innacuracies and exaggerations, not the proposed gym. I am not sure what "real gym activities" or equipment you are referring to? Elementary schools wouldn't use it the same way the middle and high schools would. The PE program is not a core class like 6-12 and focuses on different things. Wouldn't it be wasteful spending to build half a dozen multi-million dollar proper gyms for activities that are age and developmentally inappropriate?

I guarantee there are no students sitting in mud. That's ridiculous. Many students at the elementary level eat then play, plus half the Kinders aren't even there at lunch on any given day. At the middle level, many play sports or are in lunch clubs. Paly has an open campus so many are gone. When you use JLS as an example and want 1000 spots to eat for students who wouldn't sit there, isn't that wasteful? Then again you could just come back in 6 months and rant about how PA spent all this money on benches and students don't use them.

Please give me a specific school in PAUSD that is dilapidated? Again exaggerations. Sparsely decorated like Gunn and Paly? Sure but that's because there are 3 different classes being taught there during the day. All middle schools are in great condition. I can think of maybe one or two elementary schools that could use some exterior work, but not structural.

The bond does not pay my salary. Please go back and look at the multitude of threads or read the actual Measure.

Did I get them all? Probably not, but 2 replies is my limit. I'm done with this one.


8 people like this
Posted by GoneOnTooLong
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 14, 2015 at 7:58 pm

I'm puzzled that anyone in Palo Alto would still think of $37M as a lot of money.

After all, the City of Palo Alto and Santa Clara County just allocated $29M plus a proposed $10M bond to buy a trailer park, which they will promptly give away to a non-profit. By comparison, the Paly facilities are a real bargain!


2 people like this
Posted by real bargain
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 14, 2015 at 9:07 pm

Really?? that is your only comeback. what a real shame that a facility this expensive is being built and on tax-payer money--most of whom could care less about something as frivolous as an over built gym for one school. There are high schools that don't even have a gym. do we really need a $40 million gym? the trailer park--not even compares to the waste that is being spent on this monstrosity. at least the trailer park has housed people for years and many of these can not afford to live any where else. i would seriously doubt that you would hear them complaining about a $20 mil donation. I think they would be extremely thankful. too bad Paly isn't of the same mind-set.


5 people like this
Posted by How does this add up?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 16, 2015 at 3:44 pm

@PA Teacher,

I am speaking to YOUR inaccuracies and exaggerations. Measure A was sold as being necessary to pay the salaries of 80 some teachers, who we were threatened would be let go if we did not pass it. Are you calling the district and parent volunteers liars?

We were at JLS during the mud years. Ask Corey Wohlbach -- he remembers flooding even when he was a student there. All winter long, the floors were a muddy mess despite hardworking custodians. The kids sat in that muddy mess every day for lunch as if this were a third-world country, and I'm not the only one who noticed. My current middle schooler says they still don't have enough places to sit for lunch - for those who wish to sit. When is the last time you spent any time there? The kids develop an expectation of sitting on the dirty concrete all over campus to eat. Compared to spending superfluous millions more on a gym than was demonstrably needed, yes, I think giving the kids places to eat like civilized people is worth the tiny amount it would take by comparison.

Sure, they have nice hardscape now. The classrooms are still dilapidated, mostly. All over the district, you just have to walk around campuses, Gunn, Terman, JLS, etc, and see stained or uneven/broken ceilings and floors, musty old carpeting, thick layers of paint over rusted window frames, aging/tired design, ducting, and materials from 50 or 60 years ago, disgusting broken-down looking bathrooms with holes in the tile, etc.

It gets to be like that stain in the inside of your coffee cup -- you don't notice it, but the guest you serve water to does, and so do the kids. Whether overtly or not. Studies show the built environment has a huge impact on learning and emotional health.

There's really no one minding the store in this district when it comes to delivering the most for our money, and there seems to be an endless supply of money for pet projects and warped priorities. I am really thrilled that someone decided to donate as much money as would have built two athletic centers at Gunn, based on one being built for half that. If the donor wants control of it, let him do it so long as the gift remains a gift. There is no reasonable reason the district should chip in another $13 million, especially on the heels of an election in which the district pled poor and asked us all to chip in that amount because it was so sorely needed -- including to pay a lot of teachers' salaries.


7 people like this
Posted by How does this add up?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 16, 2015 at 4:58 pm

@PA Teacher,

You forgot to also explain where you think your salary comes from. Since you are not a voter in Palo Alto and aren't paying the huge taxes here that pay for our schools, I will clue you in: the community, including all the parents who sacrifice to buy homes here, they pay your salary.

We have had a series of Measure A's by the way, paying for the facilities bond (which was supposed to give us new or like-new updates), one paying for the operations of the district, and this supplemental tax which got renewed because supposedly we needed the money so badly or we would be laying off dozens of teachers.

Web Link
According to this link, the top 1,000 school districts of the 14,500 districts in the country account for almost 54% of the expenditures. We're in there. The link shows the expenditures, the per pupil expenditure (and note the difference), the actual expenditure on each pupil, and a percentage showing percentage of total district expenditures is actually spent on the students (your salary counts for that I'm assuming).

Palo Alto Unified is in the BOTTOM 7% of the top 1,000 in terms of percentage of expenditures actually spent on students. I'm guessing the gym doesn't even factor in that because it's a gift/the lease - leaseback arrangement. (And probably counts as a student expenditures.) Seriously, Weekly, when are you going to give the community a clearer look at where our money goes, where we could spend it more effectively, and what areas could actually use funds? (4th estate?)


3 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 13, 2015 at 12:04 pm

@Goneontoolong

The difference is that the money toward Buena vista is not taxpayer money, it's from the developers and has been allocated for use only toward affordable housing.


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

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