LETTERS TO THE EDITOR - Walla Walla school levy request prompts questions

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The Walla Walla School Board has proposed a tax levy for approximately $42 million.

Why wasn't this levy on the November ballot instead of wasting thousands of dollars on a special February election? Wasteful spending? Surely not. No big deal!

Contrary to some statements, this new levy isn't a continuation of the present levy. The present levy expires. This is a huge new tax.

We're told the levy pays for sports, music, library and similar items. Levy funds are commingled with other operating funds. The popular items listed are targeted for cuts because they have more leverage to get levy votes. Cut waste instead.

School Board actions (Edison debacle) dictate we examine wasteful levy expenditures to see if spending restrictions are needed before passing a new $42 million levy.

Examples of wasteful tax levy expenditures:

2005/2006: The school board paid $100,000 to a consulting firm in Florida that told us Wa-Hi and other schools were a mess. Bond failed - $100,000 down the drain.

2005/2006: Approximately an additional $100,000 paid for advertising, architects, consulting, and superintendent and staff time on same failed Wa-Hi bond. Another $100,000 down the drain.

2010/2011: Approximately $80,000 already spent for architects, consulting fees, and superintendent and staff time for another Wa-Hi bond, plus an additional $70,000 if bond passage is pursued. Bond passage questionable. $150,000 possibly down the drain.

Estimated totals of listed examples, $350,000: The totals could be much higher or slightly lower.

Our superintendents spend months working on school building bonds and/or tax levies.

Huge wasted expenditures like these tell us our levies are way too big or maintenance is shortchanged. Which is it?

The School Board and City Council have commonality. School and street maintenance are bottom priority. When schools and streets become unbearable it's easier to pass bonds to replace them.

Any levy should guarantee an adequate percentage for maintenance.

When College Place students attend their new high school in College Place, Wa-Hi overcrowding will be solved.

Our superintendent and School Board should encourage a College Place high school and abandon their (self-serving for financial reasons) effort to keep College Place students at Wa-Hi.

Our school district should support this new high school formation with state officials immediately. To this end they should notify College Place and the state that in five years we can no longer educate their students due to Wa-Hi overcrowding.

Vern Filan

Walla Walla

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