Walla Walla’s Lincoln High School is housed in a time-worn building that has to be gutted or replaced. The structure is a mess inside and out.
Ironically, what’s going on inside the building is fresh and innovative. The educational progress by students the past few years has been incredible.
The 175-student high school provides a smaller alternative to Wa-Hi for students who don’t thrive at a big school like Wa-Hi or who have personal issues that make learning difficult for them.
Lincoln High Principal Jim Sporleder and his staff are doing a lot right. The graduation rate at Lincoln has risen dramatically recently — from 13.4 percent in 2008 to 69.7 percent in 2010.
This week the Lincoln High School Community Facilities Study Committee recommended to the School Board putting a new structure on the current site, 421 S. 4th Ave. Board President Anne Golden said the Board will consider the next step at a later date after giving thought to the recommendations and full report.
A slow, methodical approach is wise.
The failed Wa-Hi bond effort earlier this year is still fresh in the public’s mind. In community meetings in the wake of the bond failing to gain a 60 percent majority, citizens expressed their concerns about the plan for a $69.6 million revamping of the current Wa-Hi campus.
Some said the plan was too grand. Others, of course, continue to support the proposal and would like to see the district bring it before voters again.
One thing people seemed to agree on at the post-election talking-listening session was that before another Wa-Hi plan goes before the voters, district officials need to make certain a large majority favor the plan to the point approval is as easy as a slam dunk for LeBron James.
The same approach should be taken with any plan to rebuild or renovate Lincoln. However, Wa-Hi and Lincoln should be tackled as separate issues.
Getting an accurate read of the public pulse can be tricky. An environment has to be created in which all opinions are encouraged and valued. The first meeting after the Wa-Hi bond had that tone.
In deciding how and when to proceed in dealing with Lincoln, factors beyond classroom size and student-teacher needs must be discussed. History, for example.
Lincoln is housed in the old Paine School built in 1927 and designed by local architect Henry Osterman.
In the past, retaining the historic look of old schools has been important (Green Park and Sharpstein schools) to Walla Wallans. Will that be the case this time?
School officials better be sure before bringing a bond proposal to voters.