WALLA WALLA — Walla Walla School District residents voted down a plan to build a $10.2 million science building at Walla Walla High School on Tuesday.
As of Tuesday night, residents were voting 4,300 to 3,943 in favor of the proposed bond, far shy of the 60 percent supermajority needed for passage. The bond also would have paid to replace a parking lot where the science building would have been located.
The 25,000-square-foot building would have consisted of 10 1,500-square-foot classrooms and housed the entirety of the school’s science program.
The district has failed in two other attempts to secure funding for a complete renovation or replacement of Wa-Hi.
First, in 2006 district voters canned a $53.9 million bond that would have seen most of Wa-Hi demolished and rebuilt, along with renovations to Edison Elementary and Lincoln High School — then Paine Campus. That plan, which residents voted down 60 percent to 40 percent, would have cost voters 99 cents, or about $1.17 when adjusted for inflation, per $1,000 in property taxes.
More recently, the district got closer to, but still fell short of, the required supermajority to pass a bond with a $48 million proposal in 2013 that focused solely on Wa-Hi and would have retained the current buildings and layout of the campus. Only 53 percent of voters approved of that plan, which would have cost 68 cents per $1,000.
Now, with construction costs and bond interest rates rising, the district estimated the new science building would have cost residents 30 cents per $1,000 over 15 years.
This will likely not be the end of bond proposals at Walla Walla High School, however, as district officials said prior to Tuesday’s failure that they will likely consider another bond proposal to further renovate the aging school in 2018 when a bond that was used to renovate Edison Elementary is due to be paid off.