Food services, admin building construction set for fall


Renovations to the administration building, food service building and K Building are slated to begin this fall in order to better support Gunn’s campus and program needs. According to Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD) Facilities and Construction Director Eric Holm, the construction involves rearranging the current locations of the administration and food service buildings. The administration building, for one, will be angled towards the oak trees near Spangenberg Theater to provide a grander and more welcoming entrance to the school. In addition to traditional food service, the renovated food complex will include new classrooms for culinary arts as well as both indoor and outdoor eating spaces.

Construction of administration and food service is projected to last around 18 months, directly affecting students, teachers and administration. The completion of the program will also renovate two science classrooms and move them from the portables to the K Building.

During the construction, food services will be relocated to a temporary facility near the quad, and pre-packaged lunch will be provided by an outside vendor. A portion of the parking lot will also be closed to allow more space for construction workers.

Nonetheless, Holm says that the district aims to minimize the construction’s impacts on student learning. “One of the things we had experienced last fall with the construction of the parking lot was hitting a water line twice,” Holm said. “With construction, there are always risks, so we try to do riskier things on weekends when we have more time to fix something if it goes wrong.”

For social studies teachers Arthur Kinyanjui and Dawna Linsdell, however, the construction will significantly affect their daily routines. According to Holm, administration offices will temporarily operate in the C and E Buildings, meaning that Kinyanjui and Linsdell must relocate their classrooms across the school to the portables.

Since he has taught in E-02 for more than six years, Kinyanjui foresees difficulties from the change in environment.“We are moving from a room that’s well-lit to a room that has very few windows,” Kinyanjui said. “For me, that’s big. I grew up outdoors, so I prefer having more natural light.”

Ultimately, his concerns are centered around his students. “I’m leaving a group of colleagues with whom I have developed professional and personal relationships,” he said. “This works to the advantage of the students because any time I have a question, I know who to run to. When I leave them, it’s my students who suffer the most.”

Additionally, Kinyanjui will lose his current ability to manage his students’ seating arrangements in the larger E Building classrooms and monitor them while they work outside. “I don’t see any space [in the village] that I’ll be able to use that way, so I can say I am quite worried about this project,” he said. “Those are two years of students having to deal with conditions that are not optimal for learning.”

Within that period, Kinyanjui plans to make the best use of the temporary space to help support his students. “I’m going to call it an opportunity to put up some new decorations that make the classroom feel like a learning space,” he said. “I can be moved, but nothing is going to kill my enthusiasm for teaching.”