Letter - Dare to say no to Wa-Hi bond

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It is time to just say no to the Walla Walla School District and School Board for the Walla Walla High School bond.

Taxpayers have said no and yet Superintendent Mick Miller and gang continue to reinvent a way to piecemeal this project together.

A couple of years ago the whole school was a wreck. And needed replaced. Now only the science building is worn out — no sinks or water, too small, teachers can’t teach. Seems if they would use common sense and make fair assessments and ask for just what was needed those of us paying for it would be more likely to support a bond issue.

I don’t know about you but I am pretty tired of hearing sob stories at bond election time from teachers about the rundown condition of the school and students who don’t pay taxes who need a new building in order to learn. We regularly pass levies for repair and maintenance of the schools. Shame on the district for not using that money to maintain the assets the taxpayers have paid for!

And for those who say this new addition to the science building will only be equivalent to a cup or two of Starbucks coffee a month, well just take a close look at the property tax bill you just received. Fifty-five percent of the total property tax we pay goes to schools. That means the average homeowner with a median-priced home in Walla Walla already pays $1,450 annually for schools, $120 per month.

And if your kids go to private school you don’t get anything for your money.

Dare to say no!

With the history of bait and switch with our money, the school district needs to hear another resounding “no.”

Please just say no. Quit wasting our hard earned money.

Larry Hagen

Walla Walla

Comments

namvet60 4 months, 3 weeks ago

It would appear that if they were confident enough in the bond and it was as important as portrayed it should have been placed in the regular election cycle instead of costing the district an extra $30,000.00. The way this money keeps flowing out and about - the streets of Walla Walla could have been repaired by now and the Aviary financed for another year.

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wwguy7 4 months, 3 weeks ago

This is incredibly difficult for me to read. If you would take some initiative and go on a tour, you would see the dire condition of the science building. The architecure is OK. Nobody is in danger by being in there. With that being said, you can't conduct science classes in 2014 with a facility designed for science in the 60's. It doesn't work.

Again, if you would go on a tour, you would see that a majority of the Wa Hi facility is outdated. I respect what the Board did by surveying the community, and trying to attack this issue as the community sees fit. Tell me Larry, did you attend any school board meetings to hear about the bond and the facilities that are forcing our students to be under prepared for college? Please realize that education is an important part of a community that allows us to grow as a community. When a young family is looking at a community, they look to see how the education system is. If they don't believe that the community values education, they won't move here. Do you want to know why we can't get large retailers (Costco is a great example) to come to WW? Our population growth is incredibly stagnant. Supporting education allows our population to grow, and our community to flourish.

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barracuda 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Question WWGUY7............

What about us who went on a tour and still have a problem? I have attempted to educate myself about this, but still have some reservations....... Sorry, I am having some difficulty in seeing all of the points being talked about....... I guess I still need to decide and to hurry.

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downhillracer 4 months, 3 weeks ago

The open house left no question in my mind - this ballot desperately needs to pass in the affirmative.

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wwguy7 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Hi Barracuda,

If you truly have gone on a tour and don't agree that this bond needs to be passed, I suppose that we can only agree to disagree. I just don't know how you can see that facility, and not realize that our students are entering the workforce, or college, without the same training in science that a majority of their direct competition is receiving. I appreciate you attempting to educate yourself, and can respect your thoughts on the facility. That's not to say that I agree with it, but it sounds like you have tried your best to make an informed decision. Kudos to you.

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stvsngltn 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Wwguy7: The civility of the above posting is amazing (compared to so many seen in this forum). My hat is off ... May it become a pattern here (wishful thinking, I know....)

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wwguy7 4 months, 2 weeks ago

I like to treat others as I would like to be treated. Pretty simple way to live life, and I have found it to be quite rewarding.

I just hope that enough people join barracuda in acutally touring the facility. I think that a lot of citizens think of their time at the school, or their kids time, and think they have a good grasp on the condition of the facility.

I have to admit that I have a small child who will be joining the WWPS system shortly, so I have an obvious vested interest. With that being said, I truly believe that our education system is the backbone of our community. Let's invest in it.

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barracuda 4 months, 2 weeks ago

While I agree Wa-Hi is in dire need of repairs, I still believe it could wait until 2018, when three things will happen. 1st) We have a currant school bond on the books, that will mature on that date. 2nd) We will have a better understanding of the CP-Hi impact on Wa-Hi. 3rd) It might mean we will be more accepting to a "Major" bond in where we can maybe... just maybe, go for a bond to rebuild Wa-Hi to a standard that is yet to be determined due to the CP impact. As it is now, we are all but guaranteed to see another bond on top of this currant bond (if it passes).

This is the latest of two attempts at a Wa-Hi bond, and using a total of $60,000.00 of our money, to pass a bond (using above posted numbers). This is a bond that even (reported in UB) the special appointed committee said to wait on. Why not wait at least until there is more needs for ballots, not a single item etc.

Also, I have looked and have not been able to find a posting in a previous letter to the editor and/or the feedback that as in the CP bond, if CP's 3rd time's a charm bond would have failed, we, the WWS District would be able to or forced to (???) to take over their school district.. Could someone explain is that true? And could that happen here, in reverse? (maybe Father of 5?)

I guess I need to make up my mind, as my ballot is still waiting to be filled out. Time to get off the fence, huh?

Signed, not Bill Anderson

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fatherof5 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Funny. I like it when we're all Bill Anderson. (but I'm afraid I don't know anything about the CP takeover had their bond failed.)

I wish I were confident that the "major bond" to which you refer in 2018 would pass. Many of the no voters from last year said they would support a phased approach, and many of the yes voters said they didn't want to wait another five years before doing anything at all. That's a whole lot of kids passing through the system during the next five years without the benefits of any of these improvements. So, the compromise of taking this step this year was offered with the hope of benefiting students sooner, but still meeting the tolerances of the voters.

Finally, not-Bill-Anderson, as you weigh your decision, I'd ask you to believe me that there is no mystery about what life will be like after the 300-400 CP students leave. We KNOW Wa-Hi will need these science classrooms for the remaining 1,500 students. We KNOW the rest of the classrooms in the academic and science buildings will still be too small for 32 kids per class and will still lack HVAC. We know that the drama program still won't have a classroom, nor small practice rooms for the music groups, nor a fitness room for PE that isn't in a tin shed. Whether 200 kids leave or 500 leave, CP honestly doesn't affect any of those things. But all we're talking about this year is science. The need for those science rooms won't change in four years, either. Without CPHS, they'd be building 11 or 12 rooms, so they've already accounted for the loss.

That's my input...which you've heard before. Good luck with your decision! :)

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barracuda 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Thx for the input....

Anyone else have the takeover info?

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wwguy7 4 months, 1 week ago

I don't think that it would have been forced, but it is an option that the state Superintendent has looked at. From an overhead standpoint, it doesn't make sense to have smaller districts (Touchet, Waitsburg, Dayton and CP to an extent) have the infrastructure for a whole district, when the WW School district could handle all of the admin for all of them, at a greatly reduced cost.

I believe that the CP district believed that they would be on the chopping black if they weren't able to get a high school bond passed, as there are very few districts in the state that don't house a high school.

This is my understanding after talking with my wife, who is in education in the WW Valley.

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barracuda 4 months, 1 week ago

Thanks WWguy7....

Question.... (And this could influence my vote)... Could the roles be reversed? Say if the WW bond doesn't pass, could CP take us over? Since the district has already attempted bonds in the past.. Is this a real threat to our schools?

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wwguy7 4 months, 1 week ago

I haven't heard it go the other way. I would assume that it wouldn't make sense to go the other way, as CP wouldn't have the capacity at the District level to handle the size of WW. I could definately be wrong, but my guy tells me that a scenario like that wouldn't happen.

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PearlY 4 months, 1 week ago

You probably missed it, but I asked you before where this "32 kids per class" comes from, when the ratio of kids to certificated teachers based on the numbers posted on the District's website is closer to 16. Where do you get the 32-student classroom size?

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fatherof5 4 months, 1 week ago

I did miss that, PearlY, sorry. After reading your comment, I also went to the district website and found a page that says there are nearly 400 teachers and nearly 6,000 students, which comes to a 15:1 ratio. So, something is odd about that, because no teacher I know has 15 kids in a class. Special Ed programs, librarians, counselors and perhaps certificated administrators might account for some of the discrepancy. Elementary teacher/student ratios, I believe, are also lower. I'm sure someone at the district could better explain the numbers.

I just polled my two Wa-Hi kids (one who graduated last year) and in six combined years between them, neither has ever been in a class at Wa-Hi approaching 16 students. My son says his smallest class there was a drama class in the lower 20s. He added that all of his academic classes are typically pretty full at around 28-32. My daughter says the same thing of her four years there with a Senior AP Literature class of about 25 being her smallest.

I do know that when we switched my son's science class in September, the class he was leaving was full at 32, and the only class that would work in his schedule was already over-full at 34, but the teacher said he had "an extra chair" and was nice enough to take my son in.

So, I can't say empirically what the average "academic" class size is (i.e. not special ed, not P.E., not band, etc.), and I wasn't trying to make that claim, but I do know from my kids' experiences and from working on my son's schedule with the counselor last fall that many of the science classes have 32 or more students, which means the classrooms need to accommodate that many. Doceo comments here sometimes and is a physics teacher at Wa-Hi, perhaps he could further explain the science numbers.

In retrospect, I would have been more accurate to have written that the rooms will still be too small for "32 students IN a class" instead of writing "32 students PER class," which implies an average. Thanks for the question. I'm asking others to be factual, so I need to be also.

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fatherof5 4 months, 1 week ago

Oh, and it occurs to me that at any given time roughly 17% of all middle school and high school teachers have a planning period, so that removes them from the equation. Still, you'd get a better explanation from a district administrator.

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