Task force suggests delay in asking for Walla Walla school bond

Discussion will continue at tonight’s Walla Walla School Board meeting.

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Update 2: The School Board meeting originally set for Wednesday at noon has been rescheduled for Thursday at 3 p.m.

Update: The Walla Walla School Board announced today that it will be holding another board meeting on Wednesday at noon to decide whether to run a bond to build a new science building at Walla Walla High School. The meeting will be held in the district boardroom at 364 S. Park St.

WALLA WALLA — Despite concerns from its Community Facilities Task Force, the Walla Walla School District may yet forge ahead with a plan to build a stand-alone science building at Walla Walla High School.

The task force, formed by the district to make facilities recommendations, recommended Monday that the School Board not put a $10 million bond on the ballot for the April election to build the new science facility.

Instead, the committee requested an additional 60 days to review several options and make a recommendation at a later date.

The task force’s recommendation — which would delay a ballot measure until at least August — is not binding.

The board will meet again tonight to further discuss a possible resolution for the April 22 ballot. To do so, the board must approve a bond resolution before the state’s deadline to file on Friday.

This evening’s regular School Board meeting starts at 6:30 at Prospect Point Elementary School.

“My concern is if the board should put the ballot (on the agenda) tomorrow, that is not enough time to go out into the community and get some feedback,” said Anne Golden, board president.

The options the facilities task force said it would consider include:

• Completely renovate Wa-Hi in two bond issues, with the first phase following the same lines as the facilities committee’s recommendation in October. The first phase was estimated to cost $25 million after state matching funds and cover renovations to the science and academic buildings, as well as the construction of a new science building, a new parking lot and two new soccer fields.

• Build a new science facility, but also ask for funding to renovate the current science building for another use in the same bond issue. An accurate estimate is not yet available for what that would cost.

• Proceed with a plan to construct only a stand-alone science building, which would cost $10 million and hold 10 1,600-square-foot classrooms for a total of 25,000 square feet of educational space.

But if the board does not pass a resolution for April’s election, it will have to wait until at least August to put forward another resolution.

If the board passes a bond this April, it estimates construction on the new facility would begin in the spring of 2015 and be completed in time for the beginning of the 2015-16 school year. A delay until August would likely mean the building would not be ready until 2016-17.

Ben Wentz can be reached at benwentz@wwub.com or 526-8315.

Comments

Myinput 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Did I read this right....the task force says to hold off, but the WWSD is forging ahead anyway? Why have a task force if you aren't going to listen.

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fatherof5 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Myinput, the task force doesn't disagree with the project; they just want to do more and to wait a bit longer to put together that larger proposal. The district has listened to and agreed with the task force recommendations in terms of the various projects that need to get done. The conflict here has to do with how to present the project phases to the voters, which is really the job of the Board to decide based on their numerous surveys and listening session.

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fatherof5 7 months, 2 weeks ago

This stand-alone science building proposal is a good compromise with the 47% who voted "no" on last year's comprehensive bond. In surveys, voters prioritized the science building and said they would support a phased approach to doing the whole project.

Most importantly, if this proposal passes, there are a whole lot of students who will benefit a whole year sooner in their science classes.

I respect the views of the task force, who recognize the needs at Wa-Hi are far greater than just this one building, but this is at least something we can do NOW. We should pass this smaller bond, let the Edison Bond expire in a few years and then come back with a bigger phase II.

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barracuda 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Fatherof5......................

This idea would get my vote

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namvet60 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Aaahhh - barracuda - don't give in so easy. LOL

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downhillracer 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Yes, don't give in to reason and logic.

PLEASE - don't feed the trolls.

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namvet60 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Pure drivel - No substance~!

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mspinks 7 months, 2 weeks ago

I don't recall the recent bond measure indicating it would cost $10 million to renovate the science section of the high school. When did renovation go out the window in favor of a new, separate building?

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fatherof5 7 months, 2 weeks ago

My recollection was that the science building renovation was in the $10-$15 million range as part of the $68 million total cost. But renovation had two significant downsides: first, students had no adequate place to go for science during the year the building was being worked on; and second, even a renovation of that building didn't allow for certain features, such as raised ceiling heights, that would be ideal for science classrooms.

Simply put, a new building allows it to be done right, and with minimal educational disruption. It also creates surplus space in the old science building to be utilized as the other buildings get fixed sometime in the future.

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dereksarley 7 months, 2 weeks ago

fatherof5 is correct. From the information provided last time, the proposed renovation of the old Science Building was budgeted at $15,050,000, although a portion would have been defrayed by state matching dollars.

In addition, on the last bond, the site redevelopment costs (shifting parking lots, creating ADA-compliant entries, etc.) were broken out as a separate $8,100,000 line item (which included the track). As this is a standalone project, those costs are included as part of the $10.2M, so it's not totally an apples-to-apples comparison.

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