As a parent, Walla Walla High School teacher, taxpayer and local business owner, I strongly support the upcoming bond to remodel Wa-Hi.
Students need functional science labs, a 21st century library, improved lighting, larger classrooms, air conditioning, an expanded cafeteria and greater access to technology. Also, replacing our 50-year-old student desks is overdue. (The students who first used the desks in my classroom are now senior citizens. Seriously.)
Students will also benefit from a new fitness center and rehearsal rooms for music and drama. Add a radically improved parking plan and a new main entrance worthy of our beautiful campus, and this bond addresses many long-neglected issues while creating new opportunities for learning.
We run a small business in town where we require compelling reasons to take on new debt. We ask ourselves: Will this investment create new opportunities for growth? Will it cut our costs? And, can we afford it?
The new opportunities for educational growth are clear. As for cutting costs, Wa-Hi currently uses a 50-year-old boiler system to heat 90 classrooms, all built with single-pane windows and doors that open to the outside elements. Each winter, these rooms are reheated multiple times daily as the heat escapes with each departing class.
Furthermore, we spend $20,000 each year transporting track and tennis teams to facilities off-site. The bond fixes all of this with energy-efficient windows, interior hallways (also better for security), a modern HVAC system and new tennis courts and a track located on-site.
So, can we afford it? The beauty of this plan is that it utilizes existing roofs, pillars and foundations and comes at a time when interest rates and construction costs are low.
In addition, the Wa-Hi plan was pared down by $10 million after College Place passed its bond, and any excess funds will be returned to the taxpayers. After the state kicks in $21 million, our cost is $48 million or a net of $8 per month for average homeowners after income tax deductions. (Seniors over 61 making less than $35,000 are exempted.)
We can afford this for our kids.
All the high schools in Yakima, Spokane and the Tri-Cities have either been built or remodeled in the past 30 years. It's been 50 years for Wa-Hi. The time is now. Your vote counts. Please join me in voting "yes" on Feb. 12.