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Potential gift for Paly gym: $20 million

Original post made on Feb 13, 2013

School board members Tuesday lauded an anonymous family who is considering a possible $20 million donation to renovate Palo Alto High School's indoor athletic facilities.

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Comments (21)

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Posted by What?
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 13, 2013 at 6:21 pm

The generous donation is truly admirable, but how can the plan even consider razing the pool that was only just recently built with private donations?? Wasteful.

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Posted by Paly Pool Supporter
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 13, 2013 at 6:28 pm

If they demolish the pool, this does make you feel a bit like a dope for donating to help build new aquatic facilities. I wish there was another way rather than to lose the nostalgic tradition built supporting athletes in the water. However, I am truly appreciative of this thoughtful generosity for the future's student athletes.

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Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Feb 13, 2013 at 6:34 pm

Surely a competent architect can design a new athletic facility around the existing pool?

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Posted by Another piece of PIE?
a resident of Gunn High School
on Feb 13, 2013 at 6:35 pm

No one is raising the question of equity but it has to be said. Both Gunn and Paly received equal funds from PIE and from the bond issue. Paly chose to spend its bond money on the super-duper-fabulous performing arts center. Gunn spent its on athletic facilities. Under the equity principle that underlay the founding of PIE, schools cannot raise money individually. All the money goes to PIE, and then is distributed equally. The reason for that is the precise reason at stake in this case -- Paly's parent community and neighborhood is significantly richer, and like Walter Hays vs Briones, its PTA can raise much more money than can Gunn. This should never be allowed. It's a terrible idea that will undo all the work in building acceptance for the equity principle. The rule should not be broken merely because a super-rich individual wants to break it. Everyone gets dollar signs in their eyes and forgets the importance of the principle, particularly this school board which is dominated by Paly parents who never cared much about that principle anyway. For example, Barbara Mitchell began her political career as an opponent of PIE and ending PTA fundraising. Listening to her praise this thing was truly sickening.

The fact that the donor makes this even worse and less transparent than the Arrillaga mess. We can't allow the super-rich to just get a new set of rules written for them every time they want to do something. These are public schools. There shouldn't be anonymous anything, and there shouldn't be a private funding stream to Paly. If they accept this money then $20 million of their bond issue money should be transferred to Gunn so that it can have both a performing arts center and a gym (and how about a decent counseling program too).

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Posted by anne
a resident of Green Acres
on Feb 13, 2013 at 8:03 pm

I think it's a wonderfully generous gesture! Thank you to whomever it is! PIE, your points are well taken -- I'm sure it was just an oversight by someone wanting to do something good for the kids at Paly who didn't understand the nitty-gritty issues of equity in a public school district and no offense intended. Surely there's a way to be gracious in conveying it -- Perhaps the individual or another such generous person could be persuaded to donate another sum for a new auditorium at Gunn?

Regardless, I want to suggest if any other potential generous donors out there to consider donating a tiny fraction of that, just 3- 5%, to allow the district to implement an indoor air quality management plan! If we're going to spend tens of millions on athletic centers, we could at least spend a few hundred thousand across the district making sure all the athletes from the youngest to the oldest (and everyone else) are as healthy as can be, performing their best, and aren't suffering from preventable asthma!

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Posted by Nora Charles
a resident of Stanford
on Feb 13, 2013 at 10:15 pm

Very generous. But I can't help thinking Palo Alto animal services is in far greater need of it for a new shelter. Oh well, sport always wins out.

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Posted by What about my cause??
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 14, 2013 at 8:51 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.

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Posted by taxpayer
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 14, 2013 at 10:27 am

Beware of requiring the donation, which is targeted at a specific worthwhile need, to be "processed" and "handled" by some complicated bureaucracy which will skim off the top for their staff, redirect funds, delay the project. Anything of this nature should be avoided.

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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 14, 2013 at 11:09 am

Again - no one has complained over the last 45+ years that Gunn had the superior and modern theater. So to say that "Paly" made the decision to build a new performing arts center (vs. Gunn spending bond money on athletic facilities) is not exactly an accurate statement.

Face it - the sites are different. The students are different. The schools will never, ever be exactly the same.

Please just let this go and move on. Be happy someone wants to do this.

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

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

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Posted by daniel
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 14, 2013 at 11:15 am

What can I say:some people here have way too much money.

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Posted by Palo Verde Parent
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 14, 2013 at 11:24 am

@ daniel
and isn't it fabulous that they choose to spend their money to better our community. This complex will benefit many generations of students and the community at large. Many kids play NJB basketball or volleyball and these organizations will continue to use the Paly facilities even after the new complex is built. I hope this generosity will inspire others!

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Posted by Equity
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 14, 2013 at 11:36 am

"No one has complained over the last 45+ years that Gunn had the superior and modern theater. "

Maybe you haven't been listening. Complaints about the Paly theater are a long-standing (and appropriate) tradition and were used as a flagship argument for passing the 2008 bond.

Paly was given $100M in bond funds vs. $70M for Gunn (a 40% difference); with this $20M gift, it would be $120M vs. $70M - a 70% difference. While the gift is good and should be welcomed, we can't justify spending $50M more on one same-population campus than the other, especially when the purpose of the last $20M is a "state of the art" deluxe facility. I'm not sure how or why anyone would argue with that.

It isn't equitable, but it is easy to address - simply move some of the bond money from Paly to Gunn, and Gunn will choose from its long list of un-funded capital projects. If the pie has grown, all the students should benefit.

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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2013 at 3:53 pm

Crescent Park Dad-- I take it your children are either attending Paly or scheduled to attend Paly--- no one ever said the sites should be exactly the same -- just equitable-- and of course everyone is happy that someone wants to do this--

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Posted by Another piece of PIE?
a resident of Gunn High School
on Feb 14, 2013 at 5:00 pm

@Crescent Park Dad. You said "The students are different." Please tell me what you mean by this. Thank you.

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Posted by Right on Time.
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 14, 2013 at 9:35 pm

The donation came right on time the district will need it to cover the suit that will bring against them by the parents of the child whose civil rights were violated by PAUSD. I am wonder if there are any other suits going on, or civil rights investigations, or settlement agreements hidden. Keep the donations coming, because the way PAUSD has been administrated we are going to need a lot of money.

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Posted by Lease-leaseback
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 14, 2013 at 9:44 pm

Right on Time - with the lease leaseback structure, no funds will pass through the district. The donor will handle the construction and its related costs directly with the contractor.

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Posted by Helene
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 14, 2013 at 10:31 pm

Why waste this generous donation on a gym. Excuse me, there are so many more important areas at
Paly and in the school district that could this money. A gym? Sounds like all the money spent on football programs at UC, while they are cutting back on classes and professors. Give me a break,
a gym?

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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 15, 2013 at 6:19 am

No, our kids have already graduated.

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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 15, 2013 at 10:44 am

Differences - the obvious one is the two football teams. Number of students on the team, as well as the physical size and ability.

On the other side - the Gunn women's water polo team is superior to Paly in numbers, ability, achievement, etc.

Just by simple observation at the last 2 Gunn/Paly football games, it appears that the Paly band has many more students participating.

Kids have different interests --- and the school culture/environment has a role in that. As does the faculty and the courses offered.

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Posted by World B. Free
a resident of another community
on Mar 2, 2013 at 11:50 pm

What they really need is a Lear Jet...

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