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Family explores 'largest gift ever' for Paly athletics

Original post made on Feb 11, 2013

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.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, February 11, 2013, 9:46 PM

Comments (65)

Posted by YSK, a resident of Community Center
on Feb 11, 2013 at 10:33 pm

Oh no!!!!! Please, please, PLEASE whatever you do, don't ruin the main gym!!! As a parent of 4 Paly athletes, I've spent time in more gyms around this state and even out of state than I care to remember, and i have to say that Paly has one of the coolest gyms around. You can spruce it up, but please don't tear it down!


Posted by Justin, a resident of Gunn High School
on Feb 11, 2013 at 10:35 pm

I couldn't care less about the sports facilities. I was perfectly fine for 4 years of sports at Gunn, which is worse than Paly is currently. Palo Alto schools should not continue devoting so much extra effort to athletics even if the money is gifted.


Posted by Paly Alum, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Feb 11, 2013 at 11:07 pm

Gunn isn't known for its sports and Paly historically has good teams. Paly and Gunn football teams aren't even playing each other this and next year because Gunn never wins so they aren't competitive enough for Paly. This generous, anonymous donor ("anonymous" emphasized) is helping our school. I graduated in the 80s and sure, the current gym is historical, but we must evolve. Thank you, anonymous donor!


Posted by Paly Grad, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 11, 2013 at 11:40 pm

What a wonderful contribution. As much as I appreciated the Paly large gym, I agree that it was awkwardly situated. The space could be better used.

Hopefully, the Palo Alto Online commenters will not come out in droves criticizing this anonymous donor.


Posted by Brian, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 11, 2013 at 11:41 pm

Well, I am appreciative of the gift, and I am definitely not a fan of either of the existing gyms. I will be happy to see them replaced. My only (small) regret is they apparently will be finished a couple months after my child graduates.


Posted by former parent, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 12, 2013 at 8:38 am

I would take them up on their generous offer and move ahead - the state is bound to slow everything down with their bureaucratic review systems anyway, so it won't materialize overnight, but why not attempt the process? As a non-sports parent at Paly, my thought was the facilities appeared pretty ratty and in need of major overhaul, so I hope a major exporation is done to make this big project happen.


Posted by Equity, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Feb 12, 2013 at 8:48 am

There's an equity issue to deal with - we can't have private funding for special projects on a per school basis. When a similar donor offered to provide artificial turf at Paly, I believe they found other private money (or maybe the same) for Gunn. Gunn is building a new gym already, but they chose to do that with their bond funds - Paly chose to do other things with their money. In any case, it will be interesting to see how the equity issue is treated.


Posted by Paly Alum, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Feb 12, 2013 at 9:05 am

Oh, not the socialist thinking again. Wasn't the Paly lacrosse field funded by a private donor? There must be a loophole somewhere so we can accept this money.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 12, 2013 at 10:21 am

I think the current main gym is horrible, however "historic" it may be. I was at Menlo school recently, and was very impressed by their gym. I hope the district goes ahead with this plan, and I'd like to thank the anonymous donor for making this happen.


Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 12, 2013 at 10:25 am

The latest configuration of the Paly pool was privately funded. Then the district used bond funds to update the Gunn pool. Using 100% public funds, no private funds, the Gunn aquatic facility is now superior to the Paly facility - office space, restrooms inside the facility, large indoor/locked storage and a fully-equipped classroom accessed via the pool deck. No one is crying about that - as they shouldn't

Gunn is about to finish its new 1900 seat gym. Funded by bond money. Paly is scheduled to replace the "small gym" with a similar facility - why not leverage the planned expenditure and take advantage of the generosity that will benefit students and the community at-large?


Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 12, 2013 at 10:33 am

Sounds fine to me, though I'm an other-side-of-the-tracks Cubberley kid. The donor family has every right to offer the funding and generosity wherever they see fit. I'm idly curious how much of this donation would be State and Federal money. Can any accountant out there estimate the percentages given the maximum tax brackets, AMT, etc? Or does the major tax advantage accrue when the time comes to settle the estate? Compared to the rest of the country, many of us are on the rich side of the so-called rich/poor divide, and might want to begin considering our legacies.


Posted by Swim Mom, a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 12, 2013 at 10:55 am

Please, please, please, if you must redo Paly's aquatic center, we NEED a 50-meter pool in Palo Alto. Rinconada should have been renovated as a 50-meter pool when it was renovated years ago, Paly's pool should have been built as a 50-meter pool, and Gunn's pool should have been built as a 50-meter pool. Don't continue to miss this opportunity!


Posted by Theresa, a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 12, 2013 at 10:56 am

I had two kids graduate from Paly, one of whom spent considerable time in the gym playing volleyball and basketball. I was also one of the volleyball coaches and spent quite a bit of time myself in the old gym. I like some aspects of it, but the lighting and HVAC are just awful. The sight lines for spectators are interrupted by posts. The playing surface itself is a fun environment, though, and it's certainly a different experience from just about any other gym I've ever seen (and I've seen a LOT of gyms!).

I've been coaching at Gunn the last four years, and while the existing gym there is quite basic, I'm really excited about the gym that is almost complete.

As a local resident, I would be sad if the "historic" gym at Paly was completely demolished, but I think it could definitely use a major interior upgrade. The small gym at Paly is a waste of space and dates back to the bad old days when it was the "girls' gym" so it was not very well equipped.

As a member of both high school communities, the equity issue is a puzzle for me. There is a great deal of personal wealth in the district, but Paly athletics has been emphasized while academics are emphasized at Gunn (in my experience/opinion). If there was a way to include a classroom in a new Paly facility where students could learn kinesiology or additional athletic training, that might add to Paly's academic offerings.

Yes, the football teams are very out of balance, but Gunn does have some excellent athletes with great success. Check out the water polo squads and the golfers, for instance. It's not all about football.


Posted by Former Paly Parent, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 12, 2013 at 10:59 am

What a wonderful opportunity. I do hope there will a way to keep the existing pool. It is only 6 years old, cost $2.5 million which was almost all funded by private donations, both very large and very small. It was a real effort by the Paly High School community. It seems like a waste to destroy it. I hope the donor and the architects will find a way to work around the pool. I think it could all work very well together.


Posted by Great News, a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 12, 2013 at 11:03 am

I can't imagine why YSK thinks the main gym is cool??? As the parent of a former varsity basketball player at Paly, I too have seen a lot of gyms. Paly's gym is old, drafty, dark, dirty, decrepit and an absolute embarassment for a school that is so great in most every other way. Hooray for this anonymous donor!


Posted by Finally!, a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 12, 2013 at 11:14 am

As someone who attended PALY decades ago, I am so happy to hear this news! The gym has been needing to be re-done since I was a student. The obstructed views, the lighting - the bathrooms are disgustingly bad. When I take my kids to a game, we make sure to have a potty break before we get there because there simply isn't a place where one can do their business with any dignity. I should also site the safety. My young daughter nearly fell 20 feet to the court level at recent game. The bars, which obstruct the view, are too low to be safe - particularly in the corners where the steps come up, but the level of the bars remains creating an extremely low barrier between a human and the court below.

I get the nostalgia, but at what point do we move on and accept a great opportunity to bring the facilities to where they should be? Both Gunn and Paly are in the process of upgrading various facilities using both bond money and private donations. There's always going to be a mix, so I don't think there's an equity issue. Surely there are Gunn parents with the means to step up and support its campus' progress.

Too bad about the new swimming pool though. I'll be curious to see the designs. Ultimately they should build what is best for the long term. Hopefully "the process" won't delay this project more than necessary!


Posted by Finally!, a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 12, 2013 at 11:17 am

And one last point - I doubt that "sprucing up" the old gym makes any sense at all. To bring that place up to current codes and standards and end up with a facility on par with Gunn's new gym would cost more than a brand new gym. Time to frame up a piece of the old court for the new gym lobby!


Posted by C, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Feb 12, 2013 at 11:59 am

"If there was a way to include a classroom in a new Paly facility where students could learn kinesiology or additional athletic training, that might add to Paly's academic offerings."
Sports med is offered and I think it's a prerequisite for kinesiology but you'd have to check the course catalog.


Posted by Equity, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Feb 12, 2013 at 12:08 pm

"Using 100% public funds, no private funds, the Gunn aquatic facility is now superior to the Paly facility. No one is crying about that - as they shouldn't."

The sites were each allocated big pots of money, and then each chose their priority projects. Paly will have a nicer football concession area and stands, based on use of bond funds - that's something they chose. So as you say, no one is crying, as they shouldn't.

But if someone said, let's raise private funds to build state of the art deluxe X at one school, on top of all their bond funds, then that's not right - unless, perhaps, we re-allocated an equal amount of bond funds to the other school. Otherwise, the schools can become fundamentally unequal. And that would be something to be unhappy about.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Feb 12, 2013 at 12:16 pm

I have nothing against this per se, but I do have a question.

Wasn't PIE invented specifically to prevent this sort of thing? I thought that all schools had to have equal donations or some such.


Posted by palo alto parent, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 12, 2013 at 12:24 pm

Thank you to this generous family! Generations of Paly students will be able to benefit from your generosity.

Parent - PiE raises money for staff, not stuff or buildings.

For those worried about equity - the gym is old and would need replacement at some point. Taking care of it with a donation frees up money to be used at the other schools. Gunn is also a much newer school with different facilities needs then Paly based on age.


Posted by parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Feb 12, 2013 at 12:26 pm

PiE is for staff/programs. PTA is for stuff/equipment/supplies.

To the generous donor - THANK YOU!!

The facilities we have are pretty sad and outdated when I think of the high schools I attended way back when. (we moved a lot). And I think they are sad when I look around at other public schools in this area. This is a wonderful opportunity. Let's not screw it up.


Posted by Paly alumni, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Feb 12, 2013 at 1:23 pm

I think the large donation is extremely generous, but a waste when you think about having to sacrifice the $2.5M it took to build the pool. Those were private donations that took a lot of time and effort to turn into a brand new facility.
As a former Paly student I feel it would be disrespectful to all the people who helped get the pool there just six years ago to tear it up again. Can't the architects find a way around destroying the pool? The gym would be great, but destroying the pool in the process makes no sense to me.


Posted by Inequity exists already in public funding of Gunn & Paly improvements, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2013 at 1:37 pm

Slightly over $70M public funds have been approved to be spent on Gunn. Slightly over $100M have been approved to be spent on Paly. After the approvals, this donor comes forward. Suspicious timing. The district needs to rethink public funding allocation if they opt to accept this funding.

Pay attention, voters!


Posted by Oh please, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2013 at 1:49 pm

I hate people that whine about how others choose to donate their money.


Posted by Gunn 55, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Feb 12, 2013 at 2:29 pm

From Paly Alum: "Gunn isn't known for its sports and Paly historically has good teams..."

ACTUALLY -
Gunn CCS Titles: 165
Paly CCS Titles: 149

GO TITANS!!!

Web Link


Posted by Brian, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 12, 2013 at 2:30 pm

I confess I don't know much about this, but it's quite possible that more needs to be spent at the current time on Paly because the campus is older and needs updating. I somehow don't believe that in this town one could EVER get approval to make one high school "better" than the other. Just recall the insane amounts of rhetoric and energy expended to make the counseling programs look like clones of each other. I am always amazed at the vitriol that comes out whenever someone decides that one part of the city is being favored over the other by either the city government or school district.


Posted by Mourvedre, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Feb 12, 2013 at 2:37 pm

Considering that the ruling class and majority here think that after-school athletics is a distraction for their children and they usually do not allow their children to participate, this seems like a waste.

The money would have been better spent on a tutoring center on campus, with REAL tutors, not student ones.

Gotta stay competitive.


Posted by Herman, a resident of another community
on Feb 12, 2013 at 3:25 pm

There was a time in Gunn's relatively short history where they didn't take a back seat to Paly in athletics...in fact, Gunn held the National Record for consecutive tennis victories (NO losses from 1969-1980). They also beat Paly in Football a number of those years. In Paly's long history, how many national records?


Posted by JIm H., a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 12, 2013 at 3:42 pm

I wonder how the donors of the NEW Paly Aquatic facility feel about the possibility of the whole thing being torn up so that a bigger/better combined facility can take it's place.

Surprised Earl Hansen isn't mandating an indoor football practice facility to be included in the plans...


Posted by Jeff, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 12, 2013 at 4:11 pm

Thanks Anonymous Donor.


Posted by Paly student, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Feb 12, 2013 at 4:22 pm

As a student at Paly who has spent countless hours in the gym playing two different sports, not just for Paly but as a younger athlete, I have come to love how our gym is unique. Yes, there are many, many improvements that can be made; the gym is, frankly, falling apart in many places and, as stated above, has a few safety hazards in the low railings and loose floorboards.

However, there is something inherently special about our gym. When you walk in, you can't help but feel nostalgic -- Paly has had many great athletes pass through its doors and leave a legacy of success. Our gym, in its unique design and retro feel, makes Paly a special place to play.

I am very grateful for the donor who has come forward to build a new gym, because Paly would certainly benefit from one. I do wish, though, that in its renovation the gym can retain its character. We can still build a new gym that has all of the latest equipment without turning it into an exact copy of every other gym on the Peninsula -- Paly's gym is iconic for both the Paly community and the opposing teams who play there.


Posted by Capbreton, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 12, 2013 at 4:44 pm

The quality of the people is far more important than the quality of a playing surface. This donor appears to have the myopic American world view that somehow athletics is critically important.

If the donor wanted to make a very classy move that would actually be remembered, all the money should go to the PIE. That would be impressive.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Feb 12, 2013 at 4:58 pm

Is this gym remodel going to mean all the work done on the pool just a few years ago is now moot?

What lesson does that teach our young people? This is a throw away generation with more money to spend than sense! Let's build a spanking new X and then a few years later someone comes along with a lot of money and X is passe, so we get rid of it for the latest and bestest toy to show off how wonderful we are!

Do you realise we are having to reuse grocery bags because of the environment? Do you realise we are having to give up black trash cans picked up weekly to save money for our city? Yet, we can trash a perfectly good swimming pool less than 10 years old because something better can be built!

This is not a good message to send to our youth. We have people wanting to prevent the "historic" Eichler Edgewood Plaza, but no one seems to care about saving a pool that there is absolutely nothing wrong with.

Where are our priorities? Do we have more money than sense in Palo Alto?

Our classrooms are poorly ventilated, our school floods when it rains, we have no smart boards in most of the classrooms, we are being begged by PIE for huge amounts per child to be donated to cover what many of us would consider basic stuff. And we can trash an expensive pool?

Next time I am asked for money, I will remember just how easy it is to throw away perfectly good swimming pools and have no guilt feelings saying a loud, strong, "NO".


Posted by Bill Billson, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 12, 2013 at 6:41 pm

ARE YOU PEOPLE KIDDING ME!!!????? A private citizen steps up and chooses to give back to the community by building a brand new gymnasium for the current and future generations of Palo Alto High School students (despite the galling fact that the State should already have the funds to do this with our tax dollars but that have been mismanaged for decades), and you quibble over the tearing down the existing dump of a gym? Am I missing something? Palo Alto High School has one of the worst gyms in the Bay Area despite sitting across the road from Stanford and being in one of wealthiest and most innovative communities in the country. I once had a 1970, brown Chevette coupe, but you don't see me driving that anymore just for old times sake, right? If this were any other community in this country there would be a parade and an annual celebration commemorating the day that a private citizen donated what will probably be many millions of post-tax dollars for the benefit of a local high school. I have friends and relatives come visit me from other parts of the country and they can't believe how old and ratty and outdated much of Palo Alto is, despite the unparalleled wealth in this region. Have you been on California Avenue lately? Have you cruised El Camino? Much of this area looks like Modesto or Salinas or Martinez because of this completely nonsensical, and really ironic, stance on change and progress. Seriously, if you are so sentimental about the current gym, take a photo of it and frame it and put it up in your living room with your cats and smelly used books and lava lamps, but please get out of the way as 2013 brushes past you with a quizzical look on his face!


Posted by Parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Feb 12, 2013 at 6:59 pm

Bill

I have no problem with the gym update. I do have problems with the pool because it is brand new.

If I am wrong about the pool being part of the destruction, then I apologise for my rant.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 12, 2013 at 7:42 pm

Parent,

You are correct. The current proposal involves tearing out the brand new aquatic facility....which is outrageous.


Posted by YSK, a resident of Community Center
on Feb 12, 2013 at 8:42 pm

Paly Student said it perfectly...there is a sense of nostalgia and continuity in that old gym. It's nice to sit up above the action, no chance to get hit by a ball or have a little one wander out onto the court. The plaques on the wall, and the boards hosting the names of the athletes (which I don't see in other gyms)make it a special place to visit. We don't have to worry about the bleachers being pulled out, or never having a seat. Spruce it up, don't destroy it. Paly gym has enough seating to host a major event, and in spite of championship teams that have played in that gym, it's hardly ever even a quarter full. I doubt a new gym would change that.

I think it's embarrassing that Paly and Gunn are just about the only schools in the area that don't have the solar parking lot canopies. That would be a smart way to save money and electricity.

As to the contribution, people have the right to donate their money wherever they please.

@Bill, most of this place looks like freaking Irvine, especially with the changes to California Avenue and San Antonio. Palo Alto is losing it's unique character. I don't understand people who don't value preserving the character of the city, where we came from. Like moving MacArthur Park to put up some stupid eyesore of a building that will be empty much like so many others were once another economic disaster hits. They really are paving paradise, to put up a parking lot.


Posted by Ethan Cohen, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Feb 12, 2013 at 8:43 pm

1. I think it is absurd for people to be upset with how someone spends his own money. As long as you're paying your taxes and not doing anything illegal I don't see why we shouldn't let people decide what they do with their disposable income.

2. It is very important to understand that no decision has been made on a plan for this project, especially as it relates to the history of the current aquatic center. I got back from the school board meeting 20 minutes ago and it was clear that no decisions have been made about this, the future of the big gym or really anything else.

3. On the issue of the potential destruction of the aquatic center, It is really incredible that a group of parents were willing to step forward and build this facility. It definitely would be sad to see if razed, (if that is how this ends up happening). However, these costs are sunk and, sunk costs are after all, irrelevant. The facility was built and has served the community well. Should we wait for the place to fall apart before we replace it? Is there some length of time that it should be mandated the facility exist for before it is replaced? Although we do appreciate the contribution those community members made, it seems silly to let that stand in the way of a once-in-a-century opportunity. This whole thing does make me wish that this donor had stepped up with this plan in 2002 however.

4. I love certain aspects of the old gym, especially the very unique layout with the raised bleachers. I was previously very excited about the master plan because in it the large gym remained and a new bigger gym was built on the site of the small gym. In this way the large gym would be the smaller gym etc. However, if this isn't possible and the donor is willing to replace both, I think it would be cool for the new facility to include architectural features of the big gym (perhaps even this seating arrangement).

5. In response to the equity issue, it is very important for everyone to understand the differences between the two sites. Paly was founded in 1898 and moved to its current campus in 1918. The only remaining buildings from that move are the Tower and the Haymarket Theatre. Of course a new Performing Arts Center is being built soon to replace the function of the later. The gym was built in 1928 and the rest of the campus as it currently appears, with the exception of the science building was built in the late 60's or early 70's making, in effect, the second newest section of the Paly campus the same age as Gunn itself. When Gunn is getting buildings to replace ones that were built in the 70s and Paly is simply expanding and trying to replace buildings built in the 20's it only makes sense that Paly should be receiving more funds.

6. It is great to complain on websites like this (especially anonymously) but if you really have strong feelings you should come out to community meetings. I've noticed the population at these meetings is always substantially smaller and less opinionated than that of this website.


Posted by Jim H., a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 12, 2013 at 9:17 pm

Why would I give money to help build a new facility, such as the pool complex, if there's no guarantee that it will go to waste when the next great thing comes along in a few years?

And the costs are not sunk, nor insignificant. How much taxpayers money will school administration pay to "study" the new facility proposal? How much time will be spent on this new facility that could be spent elsewhere to benefit the students.

I have already heard that Earl Hansen and Sarah Stapp have said they don't have any more time to spend on athletic administration. I'm assuming Hansen will be intimately involved in this process. Where will that time come from???

Yes, it's great that someone wants to build new facilities. Wondering what exactly is the motivation? Why the need for such an extravagant facility? Seems to be plenty of room over there to build a new facility w/o taking out the pool.


Posted by Ethan Cohen, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Feb 12, 2013 at 9:29 pm

Jim: Well there is no guarantee of that. I do think it would be best if this could be done while saving the big gym and the pool. But at a certain point if its best for the future for those things to go away then thats the way it goes. Again, it would have been best for everyone if this had come up 10 years ago when the pool was built.

Well the current gyms are old and small and pretty decrepit. Not nearly as bad as the theatre, but then again there is a beautiful building going up to replace that in the next couple of years


Posted by Paly Alum, a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 12, 2013 at 9:49 pm

It's sad that when one donor wants to do something generous people have to get so suspicious about motivations. What's that about? And what's the point of weighing in on whether putting solar panels in the parking lot or some other thing would be more valuable? Is it an either/or? I watched the school board meeting and it seems to that the project is in the design phase - nothing set in stone. If everyone were sitting around the table with the architect I'm sure they'd find that nothing malicious is happening. The pool for example - it's a shame to take it out but the goal should be to build the right facility that will outlive us all. Perhaps there's a way to honor the pool donors' contribution with the new pool?


Posted by Equity, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Feb 12, 2013 at 10:01 pm

@Ethan Cohen - re Equity. Paly is an older campus and does need more upgrading. And in fact the bond budget provides 30% more to Paly than to Gunn ($99M vs. $76M), despite roughly equal populations. Presumably this reflects the greater need for upgrades and repairs, and was viewed as an equitable allocation by the planners (to each according to their needs). I don't see how one school can equitably receive a very large capital donation without bond money being re-allocated to the other. I appreciate the gift, but it needs to benefit the whole district, not just a select set of students.

BTW, you are mistaken when you write "Gunn is getting buildings to replace ones that were built in the 70s" - the only buildings being replaced are portables (and the old pool). Everything else is expansion, including the new gym.


Posted by daniel, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 13, 2013 at 7:39 am

Speak of misguided priorities! Paly is already putting too much emphasis on sports, as if the school wasn't competitive enough.

The family is free to donate the money but how about donating it toward real academics needs?


Posted by William, a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 13, 2013 at 8:27 am

@daniel - "misguided priorities" by who? If a generous donor wants to use his or her personal funds to upgrade our sports facilities, which are so obviously outdated, why shouldn't they be able to? Is it your job to tell them it should be put towards academics or the school's job to turn it down, even if they think it could be more nobly spent on classrooms or labs? This is such an exciting opportunity, literally once in a lifetime and may never happen again. Let's not blow this.


Posted by WhataGreatProject!, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Feb 13, 2013 at 8:28 am

I believe I know the family that is doing this. While I'm not going to debate what the priorities should be, you have no reason to assume this family isn't supporting academics in the school district. They support a broad range of things in the community including PiE and other educational initiatives. From my understanding, based on what was described in the school board meeting last night, the facility will be made available for community use, which is great. Also, why are we having a discussion about sports versus academics? Kids are getting so burnt out trying to get into the best Ivy League schools and are not living well-rounded lives. Perhaps they need to be play more sports! If this is anything like the Menlo facility, it will include a yoga room which I'm sure all of you will love.


Posted by BiggerVision, a resident of Community Center
on Feb 13, 2013 at 8:37 am

Supporting this with private funds means the school can use the money they would have spent in the future on academics.


Posted by Kendrick Perkins, a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Feb 13, 2013 at 9:30 am

Thank you to this anonymous donor! Thank you so much for caring about our community and giving back in this way. You could spending your hard earned money on yachts or private jets or any number of personal things but are instead looking for a way to give back to the community in a way that will be meaningful and long-lasting. Yes!!


Posted by JA3+, a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 13, 2013 at 12:23 pm

Thank you very much to the anonymous donor! Absolutely fantastic news!


Posted by thankyou, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 13, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Thank you very much to the anonymous donor! God bless you.

Hope more people are generous like you to think of others.


Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on Feb 13, 2013 at 1:21 pm

As for plaques, and other small stuff that makes a gym, those can be places in the new gym.


Posted by EMS, a resident of Southgate
on Feb 13, 2013 at 1:54 pm

Just putting my 2 worth in on the subject of the old gym. I LOVE that place, or at the the feel of it. Hoping that the new construction would not be a cookie cutter gym that is all too common. Having the raised stands viewing area would be a great start.


Posted by Former Gunn parent, a resident of Gunn High School
on Feb 13, 2013 at 3:43 pm

Several years ago (at least 7-8), the school board refused a $2 Million donation from a Gunn parent for an athletic facility (2nd gym) because it would be inequitable with Paly. Forget that Paly had 2 gyms at the time and Gunn had one. It was all about the money--you could not spend that much money on Gunn and nothing at

So, how does this play out? Spending an additional $20 million at Paly with no additional spending at Gunn? Does this come out of the Play bond money?

Both schools should have equal facilities, so who cares how the funding gets them there. If $20 million comes from the private area, that should leave more bond money (public sourced) to build something else. This should not be an add on--it should be a replacement.


Posted by soccer mom, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 13, 2013 at 4:16 pm

Turns out that the Board actually has a policy on accepting gifts. From a quick read, I am not sure that the proposed $20 million is in keeping with the Board policy. They can always change the policy, but looks like they would have to do that in order to accept the gift.

Business and Noninstructional Operations BP 3290
GIFTS, GRANTS AND BEQUESTS
The Board of Education or Superintendent or designee may accept any bequest or gift of money or property on behalf of the district. While greatly appreciating suitable donations, the Board or Superintendent or designee discourages any gifts which may directly or indirectly impair its commitment to providing equal educational opportunities
for all district students.

(cf. 0410 - Nondiscrimination in District Programs and Activities)
Before accepting a gift, the Board or Superintendent or designee shall consider whether the gift:
1. Has a purpose consistent with the district's vision and philosophy
2. Begins a program which the Board would be unable to continue when the donated funds are exhausted
3. Entails undesirable or excessive costs
4. Implies endorsement of any business or product
(cf. 1325 - Advertising and Promotion)
The Board or Superintendent or designee shall carefully evaluate any conditions or restrictions imposed by the donor in light of district philosophy and operations. If the Board or Superintendent or designee feels the district will be unable to fully satisfy the donor's conditions, the gift shall not be accepted.
Gift books and instructional materials shall be accepted only if they meet regular district criteria.
(cf. 6161.1 - Selection and Evaluation of Instructional Materials)

All gifts, grants and bequests shall become district property. Donors are encouraged to donate all gifts to the district rather than to a particular school. At the Superintendent or designee's discretion, a gift may be used at a particular school.

Legal Reference:
EDUCATION CODE
1834 Acquisition of materials and apparatus
35162 Power to sue, be sued, hold and convey property
41030 School district may invest surplus monies from bequest or gifts
41031 Special fund or account in county treasury
41032 Authority of school board to accept gift or bequest; investments; gift of land requirements
41035 Advisory committee
41036 Function of advisory committee


Posted by JA3+, a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 13, 2013 at 4:42 pm

"From a quick read, I am not sure that the proposed $20 million is in keeping with the Board policy."

From CrescentParkDad above:

"Gunn is about to finish its new 1900 seat gym. Funded by bond money. Paly is scheduled to replace the "small gym" with a similar facility - why not leverage the planned expenditure and take advantage of the generosity that will benefit students and the community at-large?"

Spot-on; I agree wholeheartedly.


Posted by Alice smith, a resident of Green Acres
on Feb 13, 2013 at 5:02 pm

Surely only the school board with input from staff should determine the use of any funds donate to PAUSD


Posted by Mom, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 13, 2013 at 7:15 pm

Thank you potential donors! We appreciate your support of the local public schools when you could easily afford private.


Posted by Bob S, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 13, 2013 at 10:56 pm

It is hard to be anything but extremely grateful for such an incredibly generous donor for a project that will benefit so many of our children for a long time to come. Thank you!

I totally understand the sentiment of those who love the old gym and have so many great memories there. It has, however, served its purpose for 85 years and is now unfortunately in decrepit condition. Take a walk through and inspect it objectively. It needs to be replaced. I'm quite confident the anonymous donor is not giving such an enormous amount for a 2nd rate gym to be built - it will be good, probably great.

With respect to the talk about inequality, of course we want every child to have the opportunity for an incredible education. Not just in PAUSD, frankly, but everywhere. It is our future. When Gunn already has not one, but two, gyms and a pool better than Paly's, not to mention an incredible student body with amongst the best test scores and college admission success in the country, it's hard to take this argument seriously. More to the point, is it a valid reason to say no to an incredible opportunity for our children that may never happen again? Come on, people.

We are so fortunate to live in such a vital and caring community, where so many people are involved and willing to voice their opinion. Of the issues I've seen come through Palo Alto over the years, this one is a no-brainer. When it is the opposition that most often has the loudest voice in these things, it is nice to see the 'silent majority' speak up on this one. Thank you, again, to the kind donor!


Posted by Why about my cause??, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 14, 2013 at 8:54 am

Did you guys know that the population of kangaroos is dramatically decreasing at alarming rate?? I appreciate this generous family's intentions, but what about these kangaroos? Oh and I think Eleanor Park should have a restroom. What about that then? Or wouldn't it be cool if we had a huge sculpture in the middle of Rinconada Park? I think that could be a better use of funds.

People, what are we talking about? One family's decision to support a project that needs to eventually be done and that very few have the resources to support, is a noble gesture so let's be grateful!! I don't think deciding to support this is a judgment call on whether it's more important than something else. There is no end to what one could support with their money.


Posted by Thanks Bob S. , a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 14, 2013 at 8:55 am

Thanks, Bob S. you're the only sensible person on here!


Posted by Equity, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Feb 14, 2013 at 9:21 am

"When Gunn already has not one, but two, gyms and a pool better than Paly's. More to the point, is it a valid reason to say no to an incredible opportunity for our children that may never happen again?"

I have not seen anyone say not to accept a generous gift. But we cannot just build a state of the art facility at one school and not "share the wealth" with the other. Paly is already getting 40% more of the bond funds ($99m vs. $70m) than Gunn, presumably because they needed it. If Paly gets this gift, and there is no increase in Gunn's budget, then essentially we are investing $120M at Paly vs. $70M at Gunn (70% more). That's a big difference.

Note that each site chose for itself which projects to build. Gunn prioritized having a second gym and replacing dozens of portables ("The Village") with permanent classroom buildings; Paly chose a state of the art theater and a media arts center. All fine choices - but Gunn gave up other projects so they could get the gym. It doesn't make sense to simply say "Paly deserves one too" and give them more money.


Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2013 at 11:02 am

@ Equity

Can you clarify your moral reasoning?

Is it fair that different homes have different resources?

Is it fair that different schools have different resources?

Is it fair that different districts have different resources?

Is it fair that different districts have different outcomes?

Is it fair that different kids take different tracks?

Is it fair that Stanford has a bigger endowment than Cal?

You're making a very narrow argument about fairness that teaches our children the right answer to a philanthropic offer is something other than gratitude. The decrepit Paly gym wouldn't make my personal "top 99 philanthropic priorities in the 21st century" list. But it's not my $20M, and I can think of no proper response beyond, "Thank you."


Posted by Step up, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 14, 2013 at 11:12 am

Sounds like a wealthy family from the Gunn side needs to step it up.


Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 14, 2013 at 11:30 am

@ Equity:

Gunn has had a modern and superior theater for over 45+ years. No one has ever complained. In fact, there has been many a Paly band concert held at Gunn over the last 4 decades due to the state of Haymarket. Plus bond money will be spent to update the Gunn theater. Comparing Gunn/Paly on that point is either moot or not quite balanced.

Gunn and Paly are both scheduled to build new 1900 seat gyms. It's simple - the Gunn gym came in earlier on their schedule. Read the bond program/site construction plans. It's all there.

Gunn's football stadium was updated about 3 years ago. Now Paly is getting the update. Both had to be done to meet ADA and seismic requirements. Again - timing.

The point is this --- at no point in time, historically, have the two campuses been exactly the same, exactly perfect, exactly equal in facilities, academic offerings, counseling programs, etc. The world evolves, as do our HS facilities.

Relax and welcome the generosity.


Posted by JA3+, a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 14, 2013 at 1:28 pm

Fully agree with Bob S's post made roughly 14 hours ago. Well-stated, Bob S!


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