Remodel Wa-Hi looking at needs, not wants


In society, the education of its citizens is a fundamental requirement for economic growth and stability, as well as democracy and freedom. In order to have this we need excellent teachers and administrators, and quality facilities.

Yet Walla Walla High School is aging and in need of renovation.

That is exactly why I voted for the school bond.

Yet, it failed because the plan was costly and excessive.

Few people understand that matching state funds are not dependent on how much money we spend on renovations, but rather on how much space is being renovated.

If we cut back our costs, but do not cut back our square footage of renovation, state funding could be more than the local share. In other words, if we were to cut back our bond request by a third ($16 million), we still might receive substantial state matching funds.

We just need to better look at our needs, not our wants.

So let’s look at the wants we can eliminate.

I think the biggest cost savings would be to get rid of the idea of moving walls. If I wanted to increase the size of a room by only 20 percent, I would not move the front and back wall to do it. I would think that’s crazy, and live with the room the size it is.

And most people I talk to do not think we need to make interior hallways and limit the number of doors going in and out of the building. Where is the study that proves less school doors decrease the number of shootings? And what a cost to totally change to all indoor hallways!

Personally I think it is good to have students walking outside with some natural light and fresh air between classes.

And the administration building already looks pretty good to me. Is it worth the cost of a total restructuring to have it move to another area on campus?

The foundations and roofs are solid and sound. Moving the walls and making indoor halls are too expensive.

Let’s plan to gut what we have, but keep our walls, roofs and basic design while we put in new ceilings, floors, electrical, windows, HVAC and update all of our equipment, all for a bond that would be millions of dollars less than what was just rejected.

David Hampson

Walla Walla


ImJustSayin 2 years, 9 months ago

The school district should take this one letter, blow it up, and tack it on the wall of the room where they have their next planning session!

I would add: ditch the new soccer field, running track, and parking lot reconfigure.


fatherof5 2 years, 9 months ago

Mr. Hampson has written a thoughtful letter here. I'd like to know after they've done the floors, ceilings, HVAC, wiring, etc. how much money is saved by having left the walls in place versus having cleared them out and rebuilt them. It may be a lot of money, or it may cause some of the other work to become more costly having to work around those walls. I've spoken to contractors regarding my own house who have said sometimes it is easier to start from scratch than to work around existing obstacles. I don't know. I'm just asking what the net savings would be.

As for increasing the room size "by only 20 percent," my guess is that it would be that extra 20% that would make all the difference between the current congested, limited classrooms, and ones in which students could be moved around and teachers could expand their teaching repertoire. After all, once we've invested in new wiring, ceilings and windows and such, we've pretty much resigned ourselves to living with crowded classrooms for the next 40-50 years.

Nonetheless, I hope Mr. Hampson participates in whatever forums or committees are created to look into solutions. He obviously is taking a thoughtful, pragmatic approach.


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