An anonymous Palo Alto family is considering making a "major" donation to help transform indoor athletic facilities at Palo Alto High School by August 2015, officials said.
The Board of Education Tuesday, Feb. 12, will discuss the idea of combining $5.47 million in school district funds with "a large portion" of donated funds to transform the gym into something resembling the state-of-the art athletic center at Menlo School in Atherton, a school district staff report said.
While silent on the specific amount of the prospective donation, Bond Program Manager Bob Golton said it "could be the largest single gift to the district in its history."
Menlo's $18 million Athletic Center, which opened in August 2010, includes two gyms below grade surrounded by lockers, fitness rooms, classrooms and offices.
The Paly parent came forward about two months ago, Golton said.
"This parent and his extended family have a long history of community involvement and philanthropy and have three generations of Palo Alto High School attendance," Golton said. "At this point, the donor and family wish to stay in the background of the project."
Under a plan presented by Golton, the donor would "work closely with a well-respected architect with extensive experience in the construction of athletic facilities like those being considered in this plan, and Vance Brown Builders."
After gaining state approval for the project, as is required for all public school facilities, "the district would enter into a lease-leaseback arrangement whereby the building would be constructed and then conveyed back to the district," thereby expediting the timeline.
Golton said school staff and Vance Brown representatives already have visited the Menlo School Athletic Center and "begun preliminary conceptual design work."
Ideas would be presented to the larger Paly community at a meeting projected for Thursday, Feb. 21, at 4 p.m.
Golton said there would be challenges in integrating the project with the existing Paly Aquatic Center, possibly necessitating the rebuilding of that facility as well as the razing the existing gyms.
"With any project like this there will be challenges to face and decisions to be made," he said.
"This is an enormously exciting project. Our community is so fortunate to have someone willing to make such a large investment in the quality of life for young people in our community."
"Pending discussion and input from board members," school staff would continue working on the project with reports back to the board, Golton said.
In other business Tuesday, the board will discuss summer school dates and fees, hear a report on survey data as it pertains to "students' perceptions of bullying" in the school district, and also hear a report on an independent audit of the district's finances for 2011-12.
The board also is scheduled to vote on authorizing issuance of $70 million in bonds under the $378 million "Strong Schools" bond program approved by voters in 2008.
Following a closed session in which the board will discuss labor negotiations and employee discipline, the regular meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the boardroom of school district headquarters, 25 Churchill Ave.