COLLEGE PLACE - School officials are gearing up to convince voters that the time is right for passing a bond measure to replace the outdated Davis Elementary School, and make changes at Meadow Brook Intermediate and Sager schools to accommodate a middle school and a high school.
Right now the School Board is awaiting final word from the state authorizing an emerging high school, and seeking community members to join them in what board Chairman Doug Case calls a "grassroots" effort to inform voters about the proposal.
In a special meeting earlier this month the board passed a resolution to go to voters April 17 to seek approval of a bond measure that would make changes to the district's three school buildings.
Despite the overall economy, the district is well positioned with low interest rates, the final payment in December on a bond for Meadowbrook School, and Walla Walla School District's proposal to seek a bond to upgrade Walla Walla High School, Case said in an interview Monday.
If College Place has its own high school, it will no longer have to pay for College Place students to attend Wa Hi, nor a share of Walla Walla's bond measures for the high school. The Wa-Hi proposal is about $42 million, of which College Place taxpayers would pay about $8 million, Case said.
Presently College Place pays between $650,000 and $700,000 annually to the Walla Walla School District for 375 to 410 high school students attending Wa-Hi, Superintendent Tim Payne said.
Board members aren't ready to put a dollar amount on the bond request, but the main focus will be on a new Davis Elementary School.
There is adequate space at the Davis site for a new school, Payne said. The present school, which houses grades P-3, is a collection of five different pieces built new or remodeled, with the oldest being the 1930s gym. The last addition was made in the 1980s, Payne said.
In the proposed plan, the Davis campus would house grades P/K-5, grades 6-8 would attend Meadow Brook and grades 9-12 would use the Sager building.
There is significant value in College Place having its own up-to-date K-12 system that needs to be considered along with the cost, according to Payne.
Advantages include educational value for students, staff and families; economic value for homeowners, businesses and local governments, and solidarity around a common identity.
School officials were careful to stress the proposal is not to be construed as a negative statement against Wa-Hi.
"It's more about a vision that we have here," Case said.
With another high school in the Valley, more students will have opportunities to participate in athletics, music and arts.
Board members realize they have a challenge in reaching through the demographics of the College Place community with their message. The community includes a large population of Seventh-day Adventists, and a significant Catholic population that is ethnically Italian and Hispanic, Case said.
Adding to the challenge is the confusion postal addressing creates. The district's boundaries extend as far west as MacDonald Road, and south to the Oregon border, but only people who live within the College Place city limits have a College Place address. Others may have Touchet or Walla Walla addresses.
The board's next regular meeting is Tuesday at 7 p.m.
Those interested in being on a bond committee can contact Case at firstname.lastname@example.org.
General questions regarding the bond proposal can be directed to the district office, 525-4827.
Carrie Chicken can be reached at email@example.com or 522-5289.