Letter - You have Walla Walla High School bond questions? Here are answers

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A couple of my friends want to support schools, but they maintain some skepticism about spending $10 million. Their concerns about April’s bond to build a new science building at Walla Walla High School focus on: 1) the impact of College Place, 2) the other projects in Walla Walla and 3) the $10 million cost.

My friends ask, “Why not wait for the new high school in College Place?”

To be blunt, College Place is a nonissue for this bond. Wa-Hi will still have roughly 1,500 students taking multiple years of science in small, ill-equipped classrooms. Class sizes (currently over 30 in many classes) won’t go down, because Wa-Hi will lose a proportionate number of teachers.

I have also heard: “So, why aren’t Lincoln or the other Wa-Hi projects important anymore?”

The answer is they still are. The bond failed in 2013 that would have comprehensively fixed Wa-Hi. The subsequent listening sessions and surveys indicated most “no” voters wanted these projects prioritized and spread out in “phases.” So, the district is responding to the will of the voters by spreading out those projects, including Lincoln, and starting with the most dire one.

“So, why does it cost $10 million?”

Detailed answers can be found on the district’s fact page. In short, the $268 per square foot is right in line for a school building with specialized plumbing, gas and ventilation needs. The remaining 25 percent is for permits, project management, taxes and other nonnegotiable costs. The intent is to construct a quality building made to last, but without extravagance. Any excess funds will be returned to the voters.

It is worth noting that College Place taxpayers pay nine times the amount per household as compared to this new Wa-Hi bond’s cost to Walla Wallans ($2.70 vs. 30 cents per $1,000).

But the Wa-Hi science building will serve triple the number of students per day as will the new College Place High School. It is a great investment for a whole lot of kids.

Finally, I encourage everyone to get the facts before voting. The district’s website shows cost breakdowns, building plans and explanations as to how this will benefit kids. You can also attend a science tour to see for yourselves what this is all about.

The next tours are from 6-8 p.m. on Thursday and March 31. Wa-Hi science teachers will show you around and answer questions.

Keith Swanson

Walla Walla

Comments

mspinks 5 months ago

One would think "fatherof5" wrote that letter...

3

barracuda 4 months, 4 weeks ago

Wow, what good timing, I just got the ever painful property tax statement in the mail.................... Ouch.....

After looking the already large bottom line.... It seems to me that the WW County Tax Office is anti-school bond... Hmmm? Great timing!

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namvet60 4 months, 4 weeks ago

Yooowwwssaa - you can say Ouch again . . . . . . . . .

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Bigdog 4 months, 4 weeks ago

The only equitable way to implement a bond would be to assess an increase in sales tax. Punishing the property owners will not fly. With many folks on a fixed income, and rising inflation on consumables, it is simply not fair to punish homeowners. That way everyone would be contributing to the cause. You can bet the many loud mouths pushing this bond would become quiet, once they became included in the contribution. It is easy to say you are for an issue when it will not affect your pocketbook. I am glad the property taxes came out right now. For those who are riding on the fence, that bill should help them in casting a firm NO vote.

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fatherof5 4 months, 4 weeks ago

Bigdog: First, the method for raising bond funds in this state is what it is. The promoters of this bond have no choice but to work within the system that exists. Go protest in Olympia, but don't take it out on our local students.

Second, nobody is trying to "punish" property owners. The value of one's property and the livability of a community both improve with thriving schools. Besides, you can either look at supporting schools as a punishment or you can look at it as part of your civic duty. I view it as the latter.

Third, everyone who lives in Walla Walla pays for property taxes, including most renters, whose rents are typically raised to cover the costs of the landlord.

Fourth, when you write, "You can bet the many loud mouths pushing this bond would become quiet once they became included in the contribution," what are you talking about??? Everyone I know who is actively promoting this bond is a homeowner paying property taxes. Do you think they live on clouds?

Fifth, many of the seniors you mention who are living on fixed incomes are exempt from paying for the bond.

Sixth, you can vote "no" so you can hold onto the $5 per month that you will save if this bond fails. That is your right. I don't understand people like you, though. We have hundreds of kids who graduate from Wa-Hi each year who will be deprived of a first-class science education if we don't figure out a way to get them the facilities they need. I was raised believing it is the responsibility of everyone in the community to make sure our schools give kids the best opportunity for success. Unless you simply have no idea about how bad those classrooms are and think it's just a lie, I don't understand how you can take the "firm" stance you are taking against schools.

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namvet60 4 months, 4 weeks ago

Your blanket approach to many Senior's are exempt from paying property taxes is incorrect. The fact is that many Senior's pay their property taxes if living independently.

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fatherof5 4 months, 4 weeks ago

I said, "many of the seniors you mention," which by definition is not a "blanket approach." It's a qualified approach. I also didn't say they don't pay property taxes. I said they (many seniors on fixed incomes) are exempt from paying for school bonds.

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namvet60 4 months, 3 weeks ago

:) - flexible on the term many but splitting hairs on the term exempt. OK.

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ALWWWA 4 months, 3 weeks ago

"The subsequent listening sessions and surveys indicated most “no” voters wanted these projects prioritized and spread out in “phases.” So, the district is responding to the will of the voters by spreading out those projects, including Lincoln, and starting with the most dire one."

The district and school board listened. And this bond is a direct result of listening to the will of the voters.

Students need a better facility in which to learn science.

And Fatherof5 is right: Putting a bond (that will add an additional tax to property owners) on the ballot is the WAY WE FUND EDUCATION. Don't hold Walla Walla kids hostage because you don't like the process.

I'm a homeowner and taxpayer who is voting YES.

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