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School board approves $8 million for Paly fields

Original post made on Dec 10, 2008

Nearly $8 million for a major rebuilding of Palo Alto High School fields and bleachers was approved unanimously Tuesday night by the Palo Alto Board of Education -- the first big revamp since the 1970s.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, December 10, 2008, 9:53 AM

Comments (20)

Posted by sherry
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 10, 2008 at 11:30 am

The evolution that has taken place at the PAUSD is a breath of fresh air. As a long time advocate of expanding and enhancing the athletic opportunities in our schools, I am elated that we are now at this juncture and applaud Kevin Skelley for his leadership and members of of the Board for doing the right thing.
The field upgrades paves the way for the addition of boys' lacrosse, as well as extend the utilitarian function of playing fields in Palo Alto for the community at large.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Dec 10, 2008 at 1:37 pm

Web Link

The news item at the top may have changed, but the views of the posters still apply, so I have included a link to the old thread.

As I said before, sports fields should not be the top list on our agenda when deciding in which order the bond money should be spent. Sports are a luxury and pe takes place in many venues, inside and out. Bike racks are something I would like to see money spent on initially, and I am sure others think of other items. What the Board should be doing is getting a list of priorities and working through them in priority order, not piecemeal. As it is, the way we are going there will be money spent before the priorities are identified and it could be that something of great importance is left until the end when the money is running out.

BoE, please get a list of priorities before starting on any projects and work through them systematically.

Posted by Bill
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 10, 2008 at 6:24 pm

$8 million to upgrade fields? Is this a joke?

Am I supposed to feel good about all these extra taxes I am paying if I am paying this much for fields? I have nothing against fields and actually think that repairing the fields is a good thing, but this seems a bit excessive.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 11, 2008 at 9:07 am

Have you seen the Gunn fields? They are awesome. They definitely improve the neighborhood and put Gunn at par with other area schools.

Fields are relatively cheap construction, they show the district is serious about improving the facilities and are some of the most visible improvements the district will make.

Do Bill and Parent have kids that play sports? I seriously doubt it. Otherwise, they would understand that there is nothing worse t han watching your child compete on an unsafe field where they could suffer an injury that would maim them for the rest of their life while they were doing something they love.

Forty years is a long time to wait. Our schools are WAY behind others in the area. Yes, $8 million is a lot, but think about it over the next forty years. These fields will also be much less expensive to maintain and that will allow the district to do more in the classroom.

I for one am thrilled things are happening.

Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 11, 2008 at 1:02 pm

If "our schools are WAY behind others in the area" (with regards to presentable sports fields), why is that. I thought PAUSD was the wealthiest district around. How do other districts on much more modest budgets manage to take care of the basic subject of sports fields.

Posted by Timing is everything
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 11, 2008 at 1:09 pm

Most other local districts have improved their sports facilities through bond measures passed in the last 15 years. The bond measure in Palo Alto just happened to occur a few years after the others.

Posted by Brian
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Dec 11, 2008 at 1:41 pm

Does anyone know whether there has been any discussion of upgrading or replacing the PALY main gym? It feels like it was built in the 50's. The floor seems in reasonable shape, but the seating areas are small and are approximately 7 ft above the floor. Other facilities, including restrooms are in poor shape.

Posted by Nora Charles
a resident of Stanford
on Dec 11, 2008 at 5:43 pm

Nora Charles is a registered user.

Unbelievable. How is there money for this? Ah well, as usual sports win out.

Posted by someone
a resident of Green Acres
on Dec 11, 2008 at 6:51 pm

8m could sure feed a lot of homeless or may be help with foster

Posted by Craig
a resident of another community
on Dec 11, 2008 at 11:42 pm

The Paly main gym was built in the 20s. Its a historic gym that is one of the oldest in Northern California. A fantastic classic gym that is one of the best home court advantages around. The raised eating is classic. Its a gem that should be kept.

Posted by Paly 73
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Dec 12, 2008 at 1:42 am

Am I to understand that Paly has everything -- EVERYTHING -- it needs outside of athletics? That Paly has all of the teachers, books, computers, pencils, paper, AV equipment, etc. it needs and that outside of athletics, Paly wants for nothing?

When I graduated Paly I could conjugate a verb in Latin but the first time I encountered Form W2 was when one arrived in the mail. In the decades since, I've had to deal with Form W2 (we were taught nothing about taxes or personal finance at Paly) far more than I've been called upon to conjugate a verb in Latin. Is Paly going to graduate star lacrosse players who can't figure their own income taxes or who don't know how an ARM works?

Posted by Trying not to cringe
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 12, 2008 at 8:51 am

"How is there money for this?"

The bond measure. It was voted for earlier this year.

"8m could sure feed a lot of homeless or may be help with foster

Unfortunately, bond money cannot be used for these purposes.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 12, 2008 at 9:10 am

I'm a LONG time resident of Palo Alto ((I went to El Carmelo, Wilbur (now JLS), Cubberley and Gunn. I enjoyed many sports in this town growing up, and now have enthusiastic sports minded family of my own in PAUSD. So certainly I wish the best for our schools. AND WOW, this is embarassing, given that a school district right down the road from us in San Jose announced they are having to cancel their entire sports program across 11 schools due to lack of funding.

Seriously? $8M for 3 fields? They couldn't figure out a way to fund (perhaps) one field at a time, do it cheaper, agree to the funding as part of a bigger picture plan for the district? Do something higher priority first, like finish the master plan at least? Its standing out as rather shameful hurry up and spend in these tough economic times.

BTW, the board members discussed in original meeting on this, that the bond money didn't specify use of the bond funds for these purposes. These are 'below the line'. This is a discretionary use of these funds on the part of the superintendent/board. They need to take full responsibility for funding this project over and above whatever will eventually remain unfunded as this is moved to the top of the list - although they'll be long gone by then, so what do they care? Perhaps they'll be able to name the football field Skelly Field, or something.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Dec 12, 2008 at 9:31 am

I do have kids who play sports and as far as I can see, the Paly fields are just the same as all the sports fields they play on in Palo Alto, middle schools and parks, with the exception of Middlefield Ball Park and Bayshore for baseball and Mayfield for soccer. Yes, I would like to see improvements to the fields, but I don't think they should be top priority.

I have kids who use their bikes for school. They are constantly getting damaged because of the bike racks. The bike racks are not adequate to prevent damage and there are not enough of them.

I have been told of lines for the bathrooms, lack of soap and paper towels (particularly worrisome for girls bathrooms) and no hot water.

We have locker rooms which are only available for pe classes and not after school sports.

We have a run down theatre at Paly and when I went with my child to the welcome to new freshman evening in the Spring, most of the parents and myself were disgusted at having to sit in this theatre as the only auditorium which could house that number of people in such disgraceful condition. This is the first impression most Paly parents get of the school.

We constantly hear of the school year starting without enough desks and chairs for students until such time as some can be scrounged from other places. My son has to share a textbook in one class and his language class is 35. The only material he uses other than his textbook is a video which is years out of date.

Basics are being ignored while the sports get the priority. Even if the fields are in need of work, the amount of money seems excessive. And the fields are one thing, bleachers are not. I am quite used to carrying my own chair to sports games to put in the shade, so I don't see why bleachers should be a top priority.

Yes, we all want our own pet projects, but it seems to me that sports are always ahead of everything else. I would like to see a public list of priorities and a systematic manner in which to deal with it.

Posted by Big Al
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 12, 2008 at 9:45 am

For the record- all you athletic advocates out there-
why not take a peak inside the "weight room" over at Paly-
and you will find a set of equipment that appears to be from the
dark ages- Indeed, it has hardly changed since I was a student there
in the 1980's- it's unsafe, unsanitary, and unsightly, to name just a few-
but nobody would ever know because unlike the green fields of plastic-
the weight room is concealed from those passing by- That's what we
teach our kids here- keep up with the appearances- and let the intangibles
wither away- If you support athletics you should do something about these
deplorable conditions that the students of this once upstanding community must
be subjected to.

Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 12, 2008 at 11:15 am

I have felt there is a pattern with this BoE, whenever I watch the meetings live on TV - perhaps typical of most BoE's? - that there is a face-saving, for show "discussion" of a costly proposal - such as this costly fields proposal, then there is the unanimous voting for spending all the money. It seems to happen time and again. I question how serious the "discussion" really is. I realize BoE members are community volunteers who care about our public schools, but I mostly seem to see rubber-stamping of proposals.

Posted by Conspiracy Theorist
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Dec 12, 2008 at 10:33 pm

Perhaps there is a reason this mega-expensive project is being put on the fast track. Perhaps not all of the money will go toward its intended use, if you get my drift. If you see school board members driving around in new high-end cars in the next year or so it will prove my point.

I used to have P.E. class on these fields and an $8 million price tag to fix them up just seems outlandish, especially considering that no structures or even a new swimming pool are being built.

Posted by Bill
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 13, 2008 at 7:54 pm

Parent, you have no idea whether I have kids that play sports or not. *I* have played on those fields.

And I am not even saying that they should not be repaired. I am questioning why we are spending so much money on this. I think that this basically solidifies my assertion that people in this city have *no* concept of the value of a dollar. There will be talk that something is in need of repair(libraries, fields, you name it). When the pricetag comes people don't even question it. This is *8* million dollars with *no* buildings being constructed to repair *3* fields!!!!! If this is the highest priority item to work on then maybe we should not have even passed that school construction bond because apparently there is nothing that needs fixing!

Posted by Lori
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 15, 2008 at 7:19 am

I wonder if anyone in the district has bothered to check with the state of California, Caltrain or City of Palo Alto officials to find out how the intended plans for widening the tracks (to 4 wide), and building a large underpass at Churchill, will impact Paly site. According the California High Speed Rail Authority Environmental Impact Report, the high speed rail will build a 15 foot retained embankement wall where the 4 lanes of tracks will run (on top of the wall), through North palo Alto past Paly, And with the 43 foot overhead high voltage electrical infrastructure running on top of that - there might be some impact to Paly of some sort.

So, maybe we shouldn't spend 3.5M on field improvements until the city of Palo Alto gets good and ready to fill us in on the impacts from high speed rail. (They seem already to be lobbying hard for the station, so I guess they completely understand the city wide impacts already.. So are they filling in the school district? The impacted citizens? Southgate neighbors? Wonder when they were going to start sharing the good news?

Posted by Resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 15, 2008 at 8:35 am


If you are paying attention, the field improvements are not to the stadium field. They are to the bleachers and the other fields at Paly.

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