Various polls give Walla Walla School Board a lot to consider

But whatever Wa-Hi project is put on the ballot must be certain to be approved by voters. Failure is not an option.

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Judging from the Union-Bulletin’s recent survey regarding upgrading Walla Walla High School — as well as two school district-sponsored surveys — it’s clear that, well, nothing is clear.

The community is divided on what, if any, improvements should be made to Wa-Hi. Adding Lincoln High School to the mix doesn’t bring clarity.

One of the school district’s surveys, which was done via phone by Washington State University, had a defined number of responders and therefore should be more statistically accurate.

The other district survey and the U-B survey were of responders who were self-selected. Nevertheless, they have value. Those who responded tend to be passionate about the issue, many for a total overhaul of Wa-Hi and many wanting nothing done at this time.

The various surveys, looking at those who think some work at Wa-Hi is necessary, show that there is a level of support for some project.

All of this information gives the School Board a lot to chew on in finding the right balance to gain approval.

But whatever project the Board opts to take to the voters, it has to be a slam dunk.

School officials should feel certain the plan being put before voters will get at least 65 percent — maybe even break the 70 percent barrier.

Another failure to get more than the mandated 60 percent cannot occur. It would delay getting started on any Wa-Hi improvement by years.

At this point, the community is well-informed on the condition of Wa-Hi. Voters understand the options. Just over 90 percent of those responding to the school district’s Internet (Survey Monkey) poll said they had enough information to make an informed decision.

That could mean that the number of folks who will move from their current position via more information is likely a relatively small number.

So as the School Board and school district officials move forward, they should focus on what is needed and what will voters approve by at least 65 percent.

It might mean the proposal could be for only a few buildings at Wa-Hi (or Lincoln), maybe even one (such as the Wa-Hi science building, which was a very high priority for those who took the U-B survey).

The district might want to come up with several scenarios such as “science building only,” “science building and academic building,” “science building, commons and library” as options and then do more polling with if-then options.

Ultimately, the plan put on the ballot must be embraced by the community — and approved.

Comments

fatherof5 1 year, 1 month ago

The WSA study, which was the only scientific survey out of the three, concluded that 81% of voters want to remodel Wa-Hi in either one comprehensive bond (48%) or in two or three phases (33%). That is terrific support for doing "something."

The question now is how to mesh that support to optimize the benefits for students and garner the greatest support from the community.

While 81% also indicated they felt informed enough to make a decision, it is pretty clear from reading the comments that there is a lot of misinformation out there. I think the district should continue to focus on campus tours and other ways to help inform the public. For example, too many still believe the new College Place high school will reduce class size or significantly change the needs at Wa-Hi, or that poor maintenance is responsible for the issues facing Wa-Hi. All are false perceptions. (In fact, the new CP HS will just reduce or eliminate the need to use the current portables at Wa-Hi, which, ironically, my kids say are the best classrooms in the school because they have A/C.)

While a phased approach is less cost-efficient, less timely, and serves little real purpose (as compared to a single, comprehensive 20-year bond), if that is what it takes to garner the necessary support, then - along with some creative cost trimmings from the original plan - that may be the answer.

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fatherof5 1 year, 1 month ago

I meant "WSU" study, not WSA. Not sure what WSA would be.

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