Letter - Time for Walla Walla School Board to show leadership

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The resignation statement from our Walla Walla Public Schools superintendent a short time ago revealed what many thought. Our superintendent seemingly was hired as a salesman to pass school bonds.

After yet another Walla Walla High School bond failure he accepted blame and decided “to fall on his sword.”

In fairness to the superintendent, the science building bond failure was the fault of the School Board members. They insisted on rushing a bond vote, ignoring the advice of the High School Facilities Task Force Committee.

Sometime before this Wa-Hi bond was proposed, our superintendent said: Another bond defeat could embark us on a losing pattern of bond failures hard to recover from. He was probably right.

For all intents and purposes, his tenure in the Walla Walla School District ended after the public knew he was looking for another job.

Our superintendent spent countless hours hobnobbing with expensive architects and consultants working on Wa-Hi proposals. That wasted money could have remodeled part of Wa-Hi.

If superintendents are primarily salesmen for school bonds, maybe we don’t need one for three or four years, thereby saving our district $500,000.

From a series of past actions the School Board lost taxpayer trust. Thus far it has refused action to regain trust.

The Board member and the district official who recommended and led the charge on the defeated science bond, together with one or two other firmly entrenched School Board members, should “walk the plank” with our superintendent.

Numerous times, I’ve suggested the School Board use part of the $5.2 million unallocated cash reserves it had in September 2013 to remodel the science building.

Is the science building unsafe and ill-equipped like the School Board and others claimed during the bond election, or were those claims fallacious balderdash?

If the preceding claims are true, and the School Board has the wherewithal in its hands to correct those problems but refuses to do so, then it is in dereliction of it is prerequisite obligations.

Why does the School Board refuse to mitigate science building problems when it has cash available? It doesn’t need bond passage. Remodel as much as available funds allow.

It’s time to show some leadership.

The School Board members should treat the $5.2 million cash reserves as the people’s money, not their private piggy bank to spend as they please.

School Board refusal to rebuild trust in this case will likely and rightly doom all Wa-Hi bonds for years.

Vern Filan

Walla Walla

Comments

fatherof5 3 months ago

A central question of letter asks: "Why does the School Board refuse to mitigate science building problems when it has cash available? It doesn't need bond passage. Remodel as much as available funds allow."

The problem here is that the Board has to deal with reality and the law, whereas letter writers can make up ideas. In reality, the removal of one 2x4 stud in that science building would trigger a forced compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, potentially resulting in millions of dollars worth of mandatory upgrades that have nothing to do with increasing classroom space or technology. It is neither a simple, nor a cheap problem. This is part of the reason why the folks who do this professionally estimated $15 million to remodel that building. That is part of the reason why the Board proposed a new building for $10 million.

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PearlY 3 months ago

So all those folks who worried, when the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed, that it would impose unrealistic burdens on businesses and government entities (like schools), were right? Who knew? Live by the law, die by the law.

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fatherof5 3 months ago

The building should be remodeled. It is up to the citizens to pay for it. That's not "unrealistic" unless you have a community unwilling to live up to its obligations to provide adequate facilities for its students. My point is that the school board has to deal with reality, not fantasy.

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PearlY 3 months ago

Reality is that a lot of people have reached the breaking point on taxes and have adopted the motto of "Just say No". The proportion of "yes" votes on this most recent bond measure was actually lower than on the much higher-cost bond measure that preceded it.

Reality is that , as you yourself admit, regulations have left us with fewer options for improving our facilities frugally, and now the taxpayers are telling us that if we can't do it frugally, then we're not going to do it at all.

Many taxpayers are fed up with the tone that is taken on these measures, exemplified by the first two sentences of your post: "The building should be remodeled. It is up to the citizens to pay for it." Now that the buck has been passed to our Supreme Court, denying the voters even the right to decide how much they are to be taxed, watch the elections for those positions become ever more contentious and bitter.

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Myinput 2 months, 4 weeks ago

No, the reality is they DON'T have to use a UNION to pay for the job - if the Union would step aside and allow an outside contractor to come in they job can get done for much less.

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namvet60 3 months ago

fatherof5 - it seems you expound like the Fed Gov't that just hit the taxpayers. BUT - you have stated before that the longer time passes the more expensive it becomes. The ADA went into force almost 25 yrs ago so where was the school board of yesteryear? It would have been - according to your statement - a lot cheaper to have had the work done when it was put into force and especially being a public entity. So who was at fault then since there have been multiple bonds passed in that amount of time?

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GeneandCassie 3 months ago

Is the bond's 'time line' shifting further out into the future????

Thought an acceptable time was pegged at when Edison bonds were off paid.....

Now the writer's last sentence alludes to 'years' of doom.....

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MyFamNews 3 months ago

GeneandCassie: Mr. Filan is and has always been opposed to all school bond funding. His predictions are his opinion and his slanted view of how things should be done. Personally, I wish we could all just discount his comments, and move on.

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Myinput 2 months, 4 weeks ago

While I agree that Mr. Filan may be against these bonds, his point on his letter had nothing to do with being against of for it. His point was that the Super Indendents have been hired to help pass a bond, so why not save the money and hire a new SI until the Edison bond is paid off.

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jace12 2 months, 4 weeks ago

My FamNews... in defense if Mr. Filan, his writings in his letters were positive with the bond campaign in College Place. So I with discount that comment and move on.

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Myinput 2 months, 4 weeks ago

I think Mr. Filan's letter was well written and spot-on. We all think it, no one is willing to say it. Well said Vern.

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fatherof5 2 months, 4 weeks ago

Well, yes, we all think it...except for the majority of folks who have twice voted otherwise. And Vern's ideas would, indeed, be "spot on" if we could just ignore the fiscal and legal reasons why they cannot happen.

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Myinput 2 months, 4 weeks ago

They only can't happen because of UNIONS! Get rid of UNION paid work and it CAN happen.

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fatherof5 2 months, 4 weeks ago

I was going to blame Obama for Vern's ideas not being feasible, but sure, unions. It's those darn workers who keep insisting on earning a living wage. If only everyone would work for a lot less money, then we'd all be better off.

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namvet60 2 months, 3 weeks ago

What is a living wage? The majority of people live within the wage that they are able to earn in good times and bad. Some people think that a living wage entails being able to buy a big fancy house and a couple of fancy SUV's to show status within the first couple of years on the job.

In the state of Washington the minimum wage is $9.23 which is quite a substantial increase from the $7.50 around the country. Now your stating that a living wage is in the $35 to $80 dollar/hr (Union rates) range just to make a living. When you factor in all the dues and benefits that are collected from the initial wage your take home pay is not quite as substantial as one would think.

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namvet60 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Here's another example of two unions can not even function with each other:

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/06/23/billions-at-risk-as-west-coast-port-contract-ends/?intcmp=latestnews

How much money will this cost Americans?

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