New science building is a must for Wa-Hi

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Walla Walla High School needs a new science building. The $10.2 bond proposal on the April 22 is exactly the right plan to meet that need.

It’s been clear since the failure of the $69.6 million proposal to revamp most of the Wa-Hi campus that a smaller, priority-based approach was essential if any progress was to be made upgrading the 50-year-old facility.

What people in the community seemed to want is a single project that addresses the single most pressing need at this time.

They got it with this proposal. This plan fits like a suit purchased and tailored at Sporleders back in the day. It feels right for Walla Walla.

The proposal is well thought out. A new, 25,000-square-foot science building with 10 classrooms of 1,500 square-feet would be located in the parking lot between the current science building and the vocational building.

One of the most challenging aspects of school construction is finding room to put the displaced students when the work begins. In this case, that won’t be necessary.

The old science building can be used until the new building is ready to open. And after the science classes move out, it won’t go to waste.

It will be used in the future for other programs such as math, digital media and art.

As the students begin to migrate to College Place High School (starting next year with about 80 freshmen) the classes now housed in the 16 portables on the edges of campus can be moved into one of the main buildings. Eventually about 350 students will attend CPHS rather than Wa-Hi.

The proposal gives district officials time to adjust to the loss of students and plan for remodeling or construction based on actual number of CPHS students lost.

The cost to taxpayers is about 30 cents for every $1,000 of assessed home value. That’s $60 a year for a family with a $200,000 home. Taxpayers are now paying $1.25 per thousand for the Edison school bond. That will be paid off at the end of 2018.

Whether more Wa-Hi construction will be pitched when the Edison payment is gone is anybody’s guess, but it seems certain nothing new will be proposed until at least then.

While these are all good reasons to support the bond, the most compelling is that the current facility is not acceptable to meet the needs of modern high school science courses.

It’s a mess.

Teachers, students and parents have conceded that the science education at Wa-Hi falls short, leaving some students behind in science courses when they go to college.

The rooms are too small with sections jury-rigged into makeshift labs.

The state has added more science requirements, which means even more space for science classes will have to be acquired.

A new science building solves that problem and many more.

Ballots were mailed today. We strongly urge voters to approve this bond proposal.

Comments

fatherof5 7 months, 3 weeks ago

This is a great summation of so many of the letters we have seen here. The real challenge should be in 2018 when it seems likely that a more comprehensive Wa-Hi bond will be proposed that will replace the expiring Edison bond. That Wa-Hi (and Lincoln?) bond will have great merit. This one, though, should be a slam dunk for the reasons stated in this editorial.

I believe the citizens of Walla Walla will do the right thing here.

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