Fix Wa-Hi a few classrooms at a time

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The letters to the editor and the editorials concerning the high school bond have piqued more than a little interest in me. There are so many comments about the need for renovation and repair on the buildings.

My question is: Why have repairs and renovation not been done on a continuing basis? Any reasonable business owner would regularly repair and upgrade a little at a time to keep a building functioning well.

Have there been no maintenance levies? Was the money not spent wisely?

It is my understanding that in many departments money has to be spent during the budget year because it cannot be forwarded to the next year. Use it or lose it is the antithesis of good business practice. Our schools need to be more practical and take care of the properties rather than neglect, use up and beg for money to build new.

When College Place students have their own school our district could free-up several classrooms at a time. The empty rooms could be upgraded on a rotating basis.

Right now the economy is in dire straits. Can families afford higher taxes? Do tenants not realize their rent will increase to reflect the increase in taxes. Where do people think the money comes from?

They need to wake up and recognize they are putting the funds out for all this school building expense. There is little correlation between money spent and educational excellence.

OraRae Ottmar

Walla Walla

Comments

fatherof5 1 year, 3 months ago

Mrs. Ottmar, you ask some good questions about repairs and upgrades. The problem is that the scope of these issues aren't ones that could have been addressed over the years with a little money here and a little money there. For example, the small sizes of the classrooms, the inadequate ventilation for the science rooms, the 20,000 square feet of single-pane windows, the 100 classrooms that open to the outside elements, the 1963 boiler system, and so on, are ALL issues of such proportion and expense that each would have required a special funding source to address it...and it makes more sense to address many of these in tandem. For example, you'd hate to spend money replacing windows if you plan to expand the rooms 5-10 years later.

It isn't that anything has been neglected, either. To the contrary, the maintenance staff should be congratulated for keeping the building together for 50 years. That's tax dollars well spent. ALL comparable school districts in the region have built or completely remodeled their high schools within the past 30 years. We've been fortunate. The reality is that Wa-Hi was built for a 1960s educational system. It's held up better than could have been expected, but the needs have changed dramatically and the buildings have aged.

As for doing this one project at a time, the problem is that we will still be paying for it over 20 years, but if it is done piecemeal, it can't be done as efficiently cost-wise, interest rates can only rise from where they are now, and the campus will be a construction zone for a decade or more. Nothing is gained by spreading the projects out, but time and money would be lost.

You are right that these are tough economic times for many, but one bond was just paid off and another comes off the books in a few more years. Spread over 20 years, one should hope the bulk of the Wa-Hi bond will be paid off during better times. You raised your issues respectfully, Mrs. Ottmar. I hope I have submitted my thoughts in kind.

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