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Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments. As a science teacher I also appreciate the incorporation of data in your response. I have been teaching at Wa-Hi for nearly 16 years and I am thankful that I get to work with so many great kids.
It looks like Shorline recently completed construction of two new high schools. The support of the community for education could be a big draw indeed.
A barn. Really. I am truly blessed to be a science teacher at Walla Walla High School. As far as I am concerned we have some of the best students on the planet. So many of our kids are working diligently to improve their circumstances it can be awe inspiring at times. For every student who litters or commits some other uncivil act there countless others who are doing exactly what they are supposed to do. When I see a student drop something I ask them to pick it up and they do. We can do more as a community to support our students and a new science building is a good start.
A quick search of the OSPI website will help clear up any confusion that you might have related to Wa-Hi students passing state mandated science assessments. For the past two years students have taken the Biology End of Course Assessment (Biology EOC,) In 2011-2012, 64.3% of high school sophomores in Washington state passed the biology EOC while 73.3% of Wa-Hi sophomores passed the test. In 2012-2013, 68.6% of high school sophomores passed the biology EOC while 80% of Wa-Hi sophomores passed the test. http://www.k12.wa.us/.
While Wa-HI students have performed admirably on the biology EOC this does not negate the need for updated science facilities. Our students deserve safe classrooms with modern features such as sinks and adequate ventilation. The original 1964 building has been well maintained and served well but it is time for an update. There are not too many folks driving their cars from 1964 or living in a home that has not been updated since that time. Let's restart the process of updating the Wa-Hi campus.
Mr. Knudson, imagine for a moment that as a bus driver you were required to drive students in a bus that had been on the road since 1964. Do you think that would be a safe situation for kids? Teaching students in a non-science classroom is like driving students home in a used moving van with some benches bolted to the floor. It might get the job done but it is neither safe nor effective.
Pleasant, would you mind indicating where and when you went to university?
Mr. Bickle, the sad truth is that many of the items you listed are real needs for Walla Walla High School. Wa Hi needs bigger classrooms, more restrooms, better heating and cooling. Better cooling would mean an actual cooling system for most of the campus. Lincoln High School is a facilities travesty in its own right. Research by the district, WSU and the Union Bulletin has indicated that the public is not in favor of a large bond to tackle all of these issues at once. The school board is simply performing their due diligence as they seek a publicly acceptable way to make the necessary facilities improvements within the system. As a science teacher at Wa-Hi, please accept my assurance that there is no deception intended. The board is seeking workable solution to a complex problem.
You bring up interesting and important points that I have considered on many occasions as a practicing physics teacher at Wa-Hi but I think that it is important to note that replacing worn out and inadequate facilities is a separate issue from per pupil spending. Students should be able to take a science course while in a science classroom. It is very hard to accomplish many investigations without sinks and a gas supply. I believe that kids learn science best by doing science. A non-lab classroom makes what can be a challenging prospect more difficult for all involved.
Hi, the taxes are sales taxes that would only be incurred as a result of the passage of the bond. The proposed building actually would sit in the parking lot that is in between the current "science" building and the vocational building. The new parking lot would be behind the vocational building. To reiterate the sales tax would not kick unless the bond passes and construction takes place. The sales tax is written in to the Project Development Costs.
The current parking lot is a bit treacherous in that students are crossing the parking lot 8 times a day to move between the vocational building and the science current science building. This can make for a bit of hazardous travel as sometimes pedestrians and drivers are not as alert as they should be. Great question and I hope I was able to clarify. Thanks.
In the interest of full disclosure, I am currently a physics teacher at Walla Walla High School so I certainly have an interest in the completion of this project. At first I was shocked by the $10,000,000 figure for a 10 classroom building. $1,000,000 per classroom how could that be? Fortunately, the district has published a bond fact sheet so I was able to find a bit of clarity (True Story). It turns out that the construction costs for a 25,000 square foot building and parking lot is $7,408,280. When the cost of the parking lot is removed the cost per square foot is $276.34. It is interesting to note that homeowners will also pay $659,337 in taxes on the project. The remaining development costs can be found on the Bond Fact Sheet.
Currently there are 11 full time science teachers on staff at Wa-Hi. Next year the number of science teachers will be reduced to 10 as we begin to adjust for College Place High School coming online. Additionally, we have 3 outstanding vocational teachers teaching cross credited science courses such as forensics. Currently there are 6 teachers teaching science in non-lab facilities. One of our biology teachers is teaching full time in a room without a sink! The students and teacher are required to utilize a bathroom in a locker lobby to clean equipment.
When College Place High School is in full operation we can expect between 300 and 400 fewer students. Preliminary numbers indicate that the reduction will be closer to 300 rather than 400. As a partial offset to the loss of students to College Place, the state legislature is on the cusp of increasing science requirements from 2 credits to 3 credits which will increase the number of students enrolled in science courses. I hope my comments have added relevant information to the discussion.
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