A history lesson from Boise


After checking with my sources who have done work on high schools in the West, I was informed of a state-of-the-art high school in Boise. This school was built for 2,200 students. The school has the latest in all systems available at the time, including heated sidewalks and congregating area.

Total cost of this entire project was $38 million. Yes, you did read that right, $38 million!

Now with all the increase in maintaining the Boise school, the school district does not have the resources to run all the nice, new things all the time and have had to close part of the school to afford operating at least some of the school.

I read on the front page of the Sunday U-B that Pacific Power wants to greatly increase the power rates. Is Pacific Power giving the Walla Walla School District the power to run all this new equipment and air conditioning?

Open-ended bond issues are simply wrong when wanting a new project. The correct way to the future is to pass a bond just large enough to get all the design and engineering done, put that out for bid and then based on the winning bid present that amount to the people for approval. My contacts who have worked on these projects will tell you, when you have a bond such as the one proposed for approval in Walla Walla, toward the end of the project, changes will be made for the sake of using as much of the money as possible.

We have three engineers and two nurses, all graduates of Wa-Hi, in the family. All have graduated near the top of their class in their chosen fields and are very successful today.

I am having a very difficult time when being told that our Wa-Hi students are handicapped.

“All men who have turned out worth anything have had the chief hand in their own education” — Sir Walter Scott.

Allen Litzenberger

Walla Walla



Doceo says...

Please schedule a tour. I can infer that your parental support helped your students to become great achievers and as a result they would have been successful in any school. Updated facilities will help to level a playing field that can never be equalized.

Posted 5 February 2013, 1:07 p.m. Suggest removal

fatherof5 says...

Mr. Litzenberger, I've been scouring the internet for more information on the $38 million state of the art high school in Boise and can't find it. The last bond they passed appears to have been in 2006 for $94 million, in which they were doing "partial renovations at Capital and Borah high schools" along with some projects on their elementary schools. Middleton, Idaho, passed a $52 million bond a few years back to build a new high school that expects 1,600 students in ten years. Ours is a $48 million bond for a school that will largely be brand new and will have a capacity of around 1,850 students.

Your letter bases its premise on the notion that a brand new high school can be built for $38 million. I don't doubt your intentions, but it is possible you were misinformed. Even if close to true, we'd want to look at what they have included in order to compare apples to apples.

Below is what the Boise District's website says about its renovation of the two high schools. It sounds like some of the same type of issues Wa-Hi faces. Their $94 million bond passed with 70% "yes" votes.

"The (Boise) District is proud to report that all of the projects have been on time and within budget, including this year's (2011-12) renovation work at Capital High School. Built in 1965, the school recently underwent the first phase of some sorely needed renovation work in the form of newly installed energy efficient windows, renovated bathrooms and renovated main office space. Future projects at Capital include gymnasium floor refinishing, floor replacement in the school's main building, and replacing of the school's stair tower."

"Across town, at Borah High School, funds from the successful 2006 bond election are also paving the way for significant facility improvements. Bathrooms at the 54-year old school have been renovated and plans are in place to replace aging windows with more energy efficient ones, as well as complete an energy retrofit of the school's gymnasium lights."

Posted 5 February 2013, 3:34 p.m. Suggest removal

Iopine says...

You guys kill me - back off the spend spend spend propaganda. Great letter Mr. Litzenberger and I totally agree. I have been involved with construction projects and for the 70 million they would be able to put a room up for each student. This is the craziest costliest venture to ever be presented.

Besides at my age I wouldn't see the end of the bond to know whether they actually followed through with paying the excess (that's a joke in it self) back to the taxpayers. I also wonder how many other people think about that?

Posted 5 February 2013, 6:03 p.m. Suggest removal

blue_streak says...

Well, it's a great letter if there's an actual $38 million high school we can point to and compare feature for feature with the proposed "gold-plated" upgrade to Wa-Hi.

We won't know until we learn the details, alas.

Posted 5 February 2013, 7:15 p.m. Suggest removal

fatherof5 says...

Well, apparently Boise approved a $94 million bond six years ago with 70% approval, so I'm not sure about your claim that ours is the "costliest venture ever to be presented." Richland is going for $93 million this month.

Our district decided against adding a swimming pool and other extras, and trimmed this plan by an additional $10 million after the CP bond passed. It has worked diligently to do this bond right so Wa-Hi is taken care of for many years to come. You may not agree with all of it, which is fine, but your incessant attack on the elected volunteers who serve on the school board and your constant use of hyperbole doesn't help your credibility.

Posted 5 February 2013, 11:22 p.m. Suggest removal

Iopine says...

You fail to include whether they already have 4 other bonds and levies causing the citizens to struggle?

Posted 6 February 2013, 6:21 a.m. Suggest removal

ImJustSayin says...

Post a letter that the sky is blue and fatherof5 will rebutt that it's green.

Posted 6 February 2013, 7:01 a.m. Suggest removal

barracuda says...


Posted 6 February 2013, 7:26 a.m. Suggest removal

fatherof5 says...

What shade of blue?

Posted 6 February 2013, 8:21 a.m. Suggest removal

wwguy7 says...

What does that $93M in Richland get? I looked on their website, and the works is as follows:

•Replace Lewis & Clark Elementary School
•Replace Marcus Whitman Elementary School
•Replace Sacajawea Elementary School
•Build a New Elementary School in the south/west area
•Build a New Middle School in the south/west area
•Provide educational space for HomeLink at a site to be determined (Tri-City Herald story on HomeLink)
•Retain Jefferson Elementary as a K-5 school; remove the 1953 wing and provide adequate space to serve the current K-5 enrollment
•Replace the HVAC system at Chief Joseph Middle School
•Make safety improvements at Fran Rish Stadium

Posted 6 February 2013, 9:52 a.m. Suggest removal

wwguy7 says...

That sounds like money well spent to me. We are trying to pass a bond for approximately 2/3 of the cost, and DEFINATELY not getting the same value. Don't go quoting figures, and leaving out relevant information. Just talking about total $ amounts of the bond is not comparing apples to apples.

Posted 6 February 2013, 9:53 a.m. Suggest removal

fatherof5 says...

wwguy7, I appreciate you doing some research, which is more than some people do, but you missed an important detail (beyond the fact that we both misquoted the amount of their bond, which is $98 million, not $93 million).

So, their *bond* is $98 million and our bond is $48 million, but they have state matching funds of around $32 million, so their total projects are expected to cost $130 million, as compared to our $69 million. So our *bond* is just *under* half of theirs and our total project costs are just over half of theirs...not 2/3 as you stated. Also, elementary and middle schools are far smaller than Wa-Hi.

Admittedly, I didn't include the details of what their bond is trying to accomplish, which is quite a lot. So, I guess I will accept your advice where it applies to my own failings and then send your advice right back to you. :)

Posted 6 February 2013, 10:21 a.m. Suggest removal

wwguy7 says...

I apologize that I mispoke. Even with our bond being 50%, instead of 66%, I still feel like they are getting a better value. I think their money is easily going more than twice as far as ours. I don't care that the schools that are being built new are smalling than Wa Hi. Part of their bond is building TWO new buildings. That's brand new construction. That isn't cheap. We are remodeling.

I just think the underlying issue is that we are spending too much money. I don't agree with the bond, but I did vote yes. I want my kids to succeed, and am in a position where the property tax increase is manageable in my household. I just think that the district is asking for too much, and have a feeling that will be the sentiment of the taxpayers.

Posted 7 February 2013, 8:17 a.m. Suggest removal

fatherof5 says...

While I favor the whole package and in doing it all at once, I still appreciate your perspective, wwguy7, and the way you articulate it.

Posted 7 February 2013, 12:44 p.m. Suggest removal

ImJustSayin says...

Of course you do. He voted "yes".

Posted 8 February 2013, 8:20 a.m. Suggest removal

fatherof5 says...

Note our respectful tone to one another...even prior to wwguy7 revealing how he voted. That's what I appreciated.

Posted 8 February 2013, 10:11 a.m. Suggest removal

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