Looks can be deceiving


When I came for my interview to teach at Walla Walla High School in the summer of 2000, I was taken on a tour. With the campus style setting, a creek running through it and a recently updated library and front office spaces, I was awed by the beauty that surrounded me and the care that was being taken of the facilities.

I was impressed.

The reality of teaching in that lovely space quickly became evident.

For the past 10 years I have had a classroom in the science building. I am on the northeast corner of the building near the creek, a beautiful location when the weather is cooperative, not so pleasant when the weather is either too hot or too cold.

My room has nine single-pane glass windows. Imagine a classroom of 32 students when the temperature in the room registers 90 degrees plus! It isn't pleasant. I provided bottled water as a participation incentive. There once were shades, but they have been taped up so they don't fall on someone's head.

My room used to be connected to the room next door that has the culinary arts program. A temporary wall was put up. We can hear them and they us. And, when they cook, my room heats up like their ovens.

As you read this you need to know that I love teaching at Wa-Hi. I teach with some of the best teachers you could have for your children. Graduates are doing amazing things because of the foundation that they were given while attending Wa-Hi.

Teachers take continued education seriously and many have achieved National Board Certification. Not an easy task!

There are also new common core standards that need to be met at every level. Yet, at the high school, when students are preparing for careers, technical schools or college, they work in ill-equipped and poorly ventilated classrooms and labs. This seems unfair. You are asking that the children of Walla Walla receive a quality education in a less than quality environment.

This community can be proud that the teachers at Wa-Hi are able to do amazing things with what they have. Imagine what they could do with 21st century technology, labs and classrooms -- the possibilities would be endless.

Do what you can, vote in favor of the Wa-Hi bond! It's been 50 years, it's time!

Shelley Mann

Walla Walla



barracuda says...

While I agree Wa-hi needs this facelift.... I cannot afford it right now........
There are too many bonds/levies going on at this time, The Police Station, The Fire Station, The EMS Levy, just to name a few.....
Also, if you have to drive in Walla Walla very often, you also know that there will be an upcoming roads/streets bond.
And... as we all know, that the swimming pool people will make their yearly run at passing a bond again!
Sorry, we cannot afford it now.... So please join me in voting NO.

Posted 16 December 2012, 9:43 a.m. Suggest removal

wallyworldguy says...

well as usual here come all the horror story letters, poor ventilation leaking roofs, crowded rooms, etc. etc. the same arguments you heart every time they want to pass a new school levy . one of the questions that keeps coming up to me is, if wa- hi has had all of these major problems for so long, then how could they ever think of moving ninth graders out there when they did? here's a commonsense idea, why not wait till the next existing bond issue expires then use that savings to the homeowner and pass a levy at that time. hopefully by that time Obama will be gone out of office and the economy will start improving and people will be much more open to passing a levy to upgrade the air conditioning and heating systems, getting some new windows, and upgrade a few classrooms. that shouldn't take more than maybe 10-15 million. I mean if it's really the students comfort you're concerned about, you won't need 50 million.

Posted 16 December 2012, 11:29 a.m. Suggest removal

Doceo says...

The common school movement is foundational to our democracy. As such our schools should be some of the most important and well maintained buildings in our community. Surely most voters will agree that $48 million dollars is a large sum. I would argue that when the cost of the bond is shared by the entire community the the cost per household is quite reasonable. Please join me in voting yes for modernizing Walla Walla High School. I believe that spending 68 cents per thousand dollars of the assessed value of my home is a bargain for what our community will gain from this project.

Posted 16 December 2012, 2:11 p.m. Suggest removal

Iopine says...

At this point in time of the economy being downgraded twice and higher taxes as Property taxes, gas taxes, sales taxes & taxes on all of our utilities - to ask for more money is ludicrous! As I have stated before this structure didn't get in this condition over night and I'm sure that a couple more years won't prevent any students from losing out on any education. Payoff some of these bonds and levies first and then think about a remodel.

Posted 16 December 2012, 2:40 p.m. Suggest removal

katijo says...

Maybe if the school district would have taken care of this beautiful school, it wouldn't be in this shape. If my children drive a car, yet dont take care of it, I surely wont buy them a new one. If they didn't have the sense to take care of the needs of the school when they arose, allowing it to be in such disrepair, why should we trust them with a new one? Kind of like Memorial pool...."Maybe if we let it bad enough it can't be repaired, the community will buy a new one." I am sick of this mentality. This kind of thinking is why young people today have no self respect or respect for other's property. They learn by what they see, and what they are seeing is SAD.

Posted 16 December 2012, 3:40 p.m. Suggest removal

Doceo says...

Have you been driving the same car since 1964? If so, I bet you have put some money into the car especially if high school age people occupied most of the seats for 180 days every year. Perhaps that old car from 1964 has been great transportation but is it the safest and most efficient transportation for today?

Walla Walla High School has been well maintained over the years but all facilities wear out over time and new efficiencies can be can be achieved. One of the wonderful things our community has been able to do is preserve some of the great old school buildings. Green Park and Sharpstein are the primary examples though one might consider the Washington School building an example as well. A modernized Wa-Hi will likely see us through the next 50+ years.

Posted 16 December 2012, 6:51 p.m. Suggest removal

tpeacock says...

The current Wa-Hi was built in the 60s, How could you expect it to fit in to today's standards?

Posted 17 December 2012, 2:53 p.m. Suggest removal

mtnthc says...

Let me guess old white person (aka those kids today have no respect). Your expiration date can't come soon enough.

Posted 18 December 2012, 4:17 p.m. Suggest removal

Iopine says...

Do you have a problem with elder white persons - you've got a real problem.

Posted 19 December 2012, 6:04 a.m. Suggest removal

fatherof5 says...

Doceo is right. This has nothing to do with neglect. On the contrary, the reason Wa-Hi has lasted more than *twenty years longer* without a remodel than ANY high school in the Yakima, Spokane or the Tri-Cities school districts is due to a combination of (1) great care and (2) putting up with inadequate facilities way longer than other communities have been willing to do.

The fact that 20,000 square feet of windows are single-pane or the h-vac system is inefficient after 50 years or that the science rooms are completely ill-equipped for modern science has nothing to do with neglect. It is because these things were built 50 years ago, and without a bond to replace them, they have become dinosaurs.

What I notice in Ms. Mann's letter is a focus on what is best for kids. As tax payers, I think we should pay attention to the perspective of those who wake up each day asking themselves what they can do to improve learning for our kids. And if we still aren't sure, we should take a tour with Mick Miller and see for ourselves. I have five kids in the district and have heard from several teachers, but it was seeing Mr. Miller's presentation of the basic facts last month that solidified the issue for me. This bond is best for kids. Period.

Posted 16 December 2012, 11:09 p.m. Suggest removal

Iopine says...

I'm just stating that taking more of our money at this point and time when it could possibly wait another year or so does not ruin the future of anybody or anything!

Posted 18 December 2012, 6:29 p.m. Suggest removal

notpeggyhuntington says...

To namvet60, would you support the bond a year from now? Is 12 months that significant? I don't think 12 months is that significant, so why not support it now while construction costs are low?

I have two kids in the district. One will not benefit from the remodel and the other will experience a year in the new school. I liken my support of the bond to that of planting a tree. When I plant a tree, I am not going to benefit from its shade. However I do benefit from the shade of trees that were planted by people I do not know.

Fifty years ago, taxpayers spent the money to build Wa-Hi for my children; I believe that it is time for me to "pay it forward," and support the remodel of Wa-Hi for someone else's kids. Frankly, I don't want to wait a year. we need a remodel of Wa-Hi now.

Posted 20 December 2012, 11:41 a.m. Suggest removal

Jo99362 says...

Do ONE building at a time! Start with Science building, build UP to 2 stories.

Posted 20 December 2012, 2:59 p.m. Suggest removal

barracuda says...

Lets pay off some loans first! We already have some schools that have bonds on them... We have a Police station bond.... We have a Fire station bond.... We have a neverending EMS levy...... Property tax increases.... And as of the last few days U.B. we will have more state taxes.... And rumor has it there is discussion of a road/street bond coming as well..... WE HAVE TO STOP this never ending spending....

Posted 20 December 2012, 5:43 p.m. Suggest removal

Iopine says...

notpeggyhuntington - did you ever try planting a tree expecting it to grow in a drought? I have 2 children that I paid taxes for public schools and any outside activity was paid for by my wife and I. Now if you feel the need to support the rest of the state start writing checks. I'm getting tired of paying and paying and the children are not being educated in the fashion to embolden the world but to become takers. Rely on somebody else's dime and if you don't agree with that your part of the problem!

Posted 20 December 2012, 7:20 p.m. Suggest removal

notpeggyhuntington says...

Actually, all of the trees in Walla Walla (except those in riparian areas) are native to parts of the world where irrigation is not necessary, so yes, I have planted trees in an area that would be classified as drought conditions. If we want trees, we need to water them. If we want better for our kids then what we had for ourselves, we have to pay for it.
You seem to know something about how children are being educated. You say children are being "educated to be takers." Would you please elaborate? It has been my experience that my children's teachers challenge them to make contributions. Would you please give me an example of what you mean so that I might understand your point of view better?

Posted 21 December 2012, 12:03 a.m. Suggest removal

Iopine says...

notpeggy - I'm very happy to read that you've always had the resources and the availability to be able to grow your trees. Some of us have not always had those benefits. Some of a multiple scenarios that I will state is graduation rate, amount of money already pumped into the system. The one that is really irritating to me is going into a retail store and the young cashier has to rely on a tech object to make change! One of the others that I have noticed a couple of years ago on the West Coast the teachers went on strike and allowed students to be on the protest lines (not my idea of education) with them. Then this last year the teachers union squandered $850,000 to a political campaign. Were all of the teachers aware of this expenditure of there health and pension plans? Now I understand that education has a cost but when that cost is way and beyond the taxpayers ability it is time to slow down and put a budget to the spending. I also realize that this comment is rather scrambled before someone comes along and states that I obviously wasn't educated in Wa-Hi which is true I wasn't. But it is my money that is going to bonds and levies and I work on a budget and it is getting real slim. There is also a lot of monies going into the education of these children from the lotto, levies and taxes which in turn should be rallied at the legislative levels in Olmpia to find out where all of this revenue goes besides there bank accounts!

Posted 22 December 2012, 8:25 a.m. Suggest removal

fatherof5 says...

Namvet, the fact is that money has never been tighter in education. Sadly, kids are paying more than ever before to participate in athletics and other programs. Teachers, like the rest of the nation, are also spending more out-of-pocket for their benefits than ever before. Also, I'm not sure of your implication above referencing some "West Coast" teachers allowing kids on the picket lines, but when is the last time you saw Walla Walla teachers striking? You also seem to imply that legislators are pocketing lotto revenues.

These are red herrings.

They have nothing to do with a local bond measure to remodel of Wa-Hi - the 50-year-old centerpiece of education in our community. Science labs are inadequate. Parking stinks. Energy inefficiency is a money pit. Security is compromised with so many outside doors. And so on. These are the issues...and they are real. Your main point has been that money is tight for you personally and you don't want to pay to fix the problems at Wa-Hi. This is a real issue for you, and I do not doubt your sincerity. However, your other claims in other posts about "this bond can wait" and "now is not the time" are all wishful thinking based on the fact that now happens not to be a good time for you personally. It is a good time to do this for kids, however. In fact, it is past time. I do hope you catch a break on your personal finances. It is stressful to run out of money at the end of each month. Denying adequate educational facilities for our kids isn't the answer, though.

Posted 22 December 2012, 12:57 p.m. Suggest removal

Iopine says...

fatherof5 - I hate to be harsh but with due diligence on your part if you had read the previous post by notpeggy you would have understood my so-called (red herrings)! All of the incidences have happened and it is evident that monies continually are gathered in Olympia but never seem to make a lot of sense where they end up. Maybe you should shed your tunnel and start to have a little broader outlook on life.

Posted 22 December 2012, 3:17 p.m. Suggest removal

fatherof5 says...

You were giving Peggy some examples of "takers" in Olympia and on the "west coast." My point was that Olympia politicians allegedly taking lotto money - true or not - would not be at issue in this bond...ergo, a red herring. You are right, though, that there was some context I hadn't quite picked up on.

Posted 22 December 2012, 11:38 p.m. Suggest removal

Iopine says...

Totally aware of what Olympia & taxes have nothing to do with this bond. I am aware of Olympia & taxes have to do with my well being and also what this bond would do extending to my well being. I dwell on what my budget can handle and when it gets overwhelmed I say NO with listening to people wanting me to deprive myself for the benefit of someone else. You can think that everything is hunky dory here but why do you think the population is decreasing along with the population at the High School. There may be a number of issues but I guarntee you of one thing: MONEY!

Posted 23 December 2012, 1:49 p.m. Suggest removal

mytwocents says...

WaHi threw away my son,the teachers had no patience for his need to be challenged,
And thought he was unruly. So he dropped out, challenged the GED AND PASSED all sections with flying colors..Now he is doing amazing things.. No thanks to WaHi and their goon squad.. ..so even though I graduated from a smaller wa hi, I won't vote for any bond supporting this school.,I would rather put my money on Lincoln.

Posted 24 December 2012, 9:54 p.m. Suggest removal

fatherof5 says...

Without knowing the details, your son's experience seems like a great example of how valuable Lincoln is, as well as the opportunity for other kids to do Running Start at WWCC. On the other hand, my daughter has LOVED Wa-Hi. She's been in a variety of clubs, taken advantage of the amazing music and drama programs, and been challenged in honors and AP classes. My wife and I are thrilled with the experience she has had, but not everyone fits into the same mold. Glad to hear your son is excelling now. We've got more kids coming up so we'll see how well they each find their niche.

Posted 25 December 2012, 4:54 p.m. Suggest removal

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