High school teachers laud campus building plans | January 15, 2010 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - January 15, 2010

High school teachers laud campus building plans

Gunn educator: 'We will be squared away for decades to come'

by Chris Kenrick

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 ckenrick@paweekly.com.


Posted by waited 4 10 yrs, a resident of Gunn High School
on Jan 13, 2010 at 10:50 am

let's just hope this project doesn't take as long as it took for gunn to get a new pool.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2010 at 10:58 am

Or the library upgrades.

Posted by wondering, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 13, 2010 at 11:20 am

What is happening to the Paly auto shop. I hope they are keeping that option open

Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 13, 2010 at 12:24 pm

Gunn pool - the Paly pool went fast because the parents dug deep and got the money. It was essentially built on donated funds.

The Gunn project languished because there were no significant donors. In the end, the school district paid about 90% of the costs to build the new pool.

The Paly auto shop is not going away.

Posted by professorvillepop, a resident of Professorville
on Jan 13, 2010 at 2:41 pm

How about incorporating solar panels on the roofs of the new structures?

Posted by David T, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 14, 2010 at 3:49 pm

When is the work scheduled to complete?

Posted by Chris Kenrick, Palo Alto Weekly staff, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 14, 2010 at 4:42 pm

Construction periods projected by the school district are as follows:

2-story English and math building: June 2011 - June 2013
Single-story World Languages buildng: June 2011 - June 2011
New gym: June 2011 - November 2012

Media Arts building: 2011 - June 2013
2-story math and social studies building: June 2011 - June 2013

The reason they don't expect to break ground for another 18 months is because of a lengthy approval process by the Division of the State Architect.

Posted by R, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 15, 2010 at 9:06 am

It is a shame that the best direction to go (going back to 3 High Schools) was totally ignored in all this...

These 2 schools will have great facilities for the students ... but the schools will be too impersonal, alienating and overwhelming.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 15, 2010 at 9:52 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

If they go solar, water heating would have a quicker payoff.

Posted by Solar panels, a resident of Gunn High School
on Jan 17, 2010 at 11:29 pm

@professorvillepop The buildings will be ready to add solar panels, but won't include them now because of the cost. It may be possible to add them later with appropriate financing (based on the decrease in electricity costs). But it doesn't make sense to use limited bond financing for solar panels when that would decrease the amount of other capital improvements that can be made.

Posted by paly grad '05, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 21, 2010 at 9:57 pm

SO SO very pleased and delighted to hear about these plans to create a Paly Media Arts center. It will be such a privilege for the students and staff to work there and I can only imagine all the wonderful work that will come as a result! Can't wait to see it!

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