We can afford Wa-Hi remodel


As a parent, Walla Walla High School teacher, taxpayer and local business owner, I strongly support the upcoming bond to remodel Wa-Hi.

Students need functional science labs, a 21st century library, improved lighting, larger classrooms, air conditioning, an expanded cafeteria and greater access to technology. Also, replacing our 50-year-old student desks is overdue. (The students who first used the desks in my classroom are now senior citizens. Seriously.)

Students will also benefit from a new fitness center and rehearsal rooms for music and drama. Add a radically improved parking plan and a new main entrance worthy of our beautiful campus, and this bond addresses many long-neglected issues while creating new opportunities for learning.

We run a small business in town where we require compelling reasons to take on new debt. We ask ourselves: Will this investment create new opportunities for growth? Will it cut our costs? And, can we afford it?

The new opportunities for educational growth are clear. As for cutting costs, Wa-Hi currently uses a 50-year-old boiler system to heat 90 classrooms, all built with single-pane windows and doors that open to the outside elements. Each winter, these rooms are reheated multiple times daily as the heat escapes with each departing class.

Furthermore, we spend $20,000 each year transporting track and tennis teams to facilities off-site. The bond fixes all of this with energy-efficient windows, interior hallways (also better for security), a modern HVAC system and new tennis courts and a track located on-site.

So, can we afford it? The beauty of this plan is that it utilizes existing roofs, pillars and foundations and comes at a time when interest rates and construction costs are low.

In addition, the Wa-Hi plan was pared down by $10 million after College Place passed its bond, and any excess funds will be returned to the taxpayers. After the state kicks in $21 million, our cost is $48 million or a net of $8 per month for average homeowners after income tax deductions. (Seniors over 61 making less than $35,000 are exempted.)

We can afford this for our kids.

All the high schools in Yakima, Spokane and the Tri-Cities have either been built or remodeled in the past 30 years. It's been 50 years for Wa-Hi. The time is now. Your vote counts. Please join me in voting "yes" on Feb. 12.

Keith Swanson

Walla Walla



Iopine says...

It really irritates me when people enjoy spending my money and telling me we can afford it! Well they have enjoyed spending it so much that I don't have any money left and when does it end. Possibly if I was to move into a cardboard box would that exempt me from "We can afford this"?

Posted 4 January 2013, 5:49 p.m. Suggest removal

Hersey says...

And an increase in health insurance and the new social security tax just took an extra $100.00 out of my paycheck. So, I can't afford any additional tax increases. Sorry.

Posted 4 January 2013, 7:06 p.m. Suggest removal

barracuda says...

What I dont understand is the thought by many.... Lets do this now!!!! And they dont remember that just a couple/few years ago they/we were voting on another school bond. Lets pay off those bills first.
Its $8.00 a month for this.... on top the "few dollars" for the already in-place school bond, and we are about to lose 20% of our tuition income.... Lets see how that impacts our schools first......
Vote NO!

Posted 4 January 2013, 8:07 p.m. Suggest removal

fatherof5 says...

In a district with several schools, bonds come up periodically and overlap. If you have a 10 or 20 year bond for one project, that doesn't mean there aren't other necessary bond projects that will come up during the course of the first bond. They overlap. This is how it works all over the state. Providing and maintaining adequate facilities is part of the ongoing price of educating our children in America. It's what we do for them.

It can be viewed as a cost if you want, but it is also as an investment. If you want to see home values fall, let the schools fall into disrepair. The goal, as I understand it, is to keep the total for all bonds under $2 per $1,000. It just went down a couple years ago to $1.27 per $1,000 from a high of $1.85 in 2005 and then will go up to $1.95 if the bond passes, and then after 5 years down to $1.15...and so on.

And for any who say, "Why now?" it is not as if this is the first time the district has brought these issues up. These are lingering issues. The 2006 bond failed and has now been revised dramatically to respond to the feedback from the public. But some of these needs were urgent six years ago. It's already been postponed. As the article above states, all other larger districts in the region have rebuilt or remodeled all of their schools within the past 30 years. It's been 50 years for Wa-Hi. If not now, when? Should we wait for interest rates to rise? Or for the construction industry to recover and prices to go up? That seems imprudent to me.

Posted 4 January 2013, 10:28 p.m. Suggest removal

Iopine says...

For the fatherof5 - Why don't you thank all of the clueless idividuals that voted this administration back in and leaving us with a bad economy and will be a lot worse by the time his term is expired. So until I have something on my dinner table I will be against any new bonds or tax increases from anywhere!

Posted 5 January 2013, 2:14 p.m. Suggest removal

fatherof5 says...

Namvet, first, I don't believe you have nothing to eat for dinner. But if true, you will be happy to know that people 61 and older who earn less than $35k are exempt from paying for this bond. (And seriously, if true, let me know and our family will bake you a casserole each week until you are in better shape. I mean it. No one should go hungry, particularly a veteran, as your name implies.)

Second, I try to separate national politics from local issues. Good conservatives typically recognize the value of local decision-making. That's what this bond is about: a local community deciding whether or not to make an investment at this time in OUR children...not Barney Frank's children (I don't think he has any), not Pres. Obama's children (they go to private school), but OUR children here in Walla Walla. Just because our national leaders manufactured a fiscal cliff, have aggressively grown the national debt for 30 years, and can't get their collective acts together, would you delay the educational progress of our local kids? That runs counter to good, conservative beliefs.

And finally, since you blame Obama for not being able to support this bond, should I then assume that you voted FOR the bond in 2006 when a Republican was in the White House and the Republicans controlled Congress? ....OR do you never vote to support public education? Honestly, you come across as someone who just complains and says 'no' to everything. I have acknowledged in previous posts that I believe you that this is not a good time for you financially to have your property taxes go up. My question to you is this: Even though you feel the timing is wrong for you personally, are you able to acknowledge anything good about this bond?

Posted 5 January 2013, 5:51 p.m. Suggest removal

Use.Wisdom says...

Namvet -- I am shoulder to shoulder with fatherof5. I support every single opportunity to lift up and honor our veterans. Count me in for a casserole every week too. From my heart -- Honestly. I'm already planning how to incorporate your needs with ours.

We have all been the beneficiaries of the generations before us. Our schooling needs were met by "them" and it is our turn to meet the need of today's children.

Please do join all of us to build a better tomorrow for our community. And just so you know -- my children have already benefited (greatly) from our school district, and have moved on. Be assured, my strong "yes" is because I do believe in investing in tomorrow, and I'm giving back because it's the right thing to do.

Posted 6 January 2013, 2:20 p.m. Suggest removal

Iopine says...

As for the consequences of the federal government not have anything to do with local issues you should re-evaluate that statement. Wages are affected by local, State & Federal taxes.
Now for the issue of making less that $35,000/yr - you try living on that amount of money with taxes on every item from utilities to toilet paper. Also if I did exempt myself from property tax it would be divided between my neighbors and I'm not one to cripple my neighbors with smaller children by saddleing them with my bills. I pay my own freight but I don't care to pay somebody else's.
I moved here a few years ago and I raised 2 children in my life and they went to public school and I paid for every year that they attended school. They had multiple programs such as cinderella, scouts & multiple other programs that were financed by parents and fundraisers.
So I have paid for mine and I just don't see where it was my duty to pay for the rest of my life.
As for the casserole - what do you think I eat and I know how to cook!

Posted 6 January 2013, 2:40 p.m. Suggest removal

fatherof5 says...

You've never tried my wife's lasagna, so I wouldn't be too quick to turn it down. And I can do wonders with tater tots. I'm just saying....

Still, you and I are of different minds, and that's okay. You say you support schools when it benefits your own kids and then you no longer do. That's your right, but it is a perspective that is completely foreign to me. Most of the people I know believe in supporting schools for the next generation, as well as their own. If we current parents could hold a bake sale and replace 20,000 square feet of single pane windows, or sell raffle tickets to raise $10 million to rebuild our science rooms, we would do that. But these issues are dramatically larger than scouts and "cinderella." They can't be resolved with fundraisers or other parents chipping in.

Whether you want to acknowledge their help or not, plenty of folks helped you and your kids years ago. You didn't personally build the schools your kids attended. This is what makes America great. We strive (not always perfectly) to balance our independent, entrepreneurial spirit with a recognition that we can also do incredibly beneficial things when we work together. That's how we won WW II; that's how we built our amazing highway system; that's how my house and yours is protected by professionally-trained firefighters; and that's how we succeed in educating each generation. Self-reliance AND helping one's neighbor are BOTH critical components of the American story. Once my kids are grown, I'm still paying it forward.

Posted 6 January 2013, 5:31 p.m. Suggest removal

Iopine says...

fatherof5 - yes we do have different mind sets on life of today and you seem to take my words totally out of context. Schools (education) are supported by the Local, State & Federal governments & and we are currently paying for a multiple million dollar bond. So I do pay now for education! I never indicated that I don't support schools but I did indicate that when you have a boat load of debt (such as the Local, State & Federal ) it is time to step back and clean up some of that debt and quite spending until there is some economy to work with. You seem to think that money grows on trees and I have yet to find one - So when you read don't take the context you want but what is written!

Posted 7 January 2013, 6:21 a.m. Suggest removal

fatherof5 says...

I don't mean to take you out of context, and apologize if I did so. I also didn't mean to suggest you don't pay the taxes you are obliged to pay -- only that you don't support such measures when your own kids aren't involved. You wrote: "So I have paid for mine and I just don't see where it was my duty to pay for the rest of my life." I thought what you wrote was clear.

Posted 7 January 2013, 9:14 a.m. Suggest removal

fatherof5 says...

Also, no, money does not grow on trees. That's why Wa-Hi has not been remodeled in 50 years, while ALL comparable high schools in the region have been. To it's credit, Walla Walla has squeezed all it could get out of that building because it recognizes money doesn't grow on trees. Kids DO grow in good schools, though.

Posted 7 January 2013, 1:43 p.m. Suggest removal

mtnthc says...

Apparently you can afford a computer, internet service, electricity, and a newspaper subscription. We can bring you some cheese to pair with with your whine?

Posted 7 January 2013, 3:32 p.m. Suggest removal

Iopine says...

btw fatherof5 - I thank you for the offer and understandably I'm sure your bride is an excellent cook but when my bride kicks me out of the kitchen she also does an excellent job! I may have been a little harsh in my statement but I would also like to broach a question to you? You stated earlier that you do not mix national politics with local but a lot of the national policies and state politics do relate to local issues. Now the question is related to school issues and I'm not aware of how many teachers unions there are in the state of Washington but for a teachers union to give a political campaign $850,000 why do you think that there was not more of an issue with that? There was a short blurp in the U-B and then it fell off the map. Now if the teachers union has that much money to throw away why not use it to help with education instead of squandering it. An inquiring mind would like to know!!!

mtnthc - What did you expect - I didn't move into my cardboard box yet!

Posted 7 January 2013, 6:31 p.m. Suggest removal

fatherof5 says...

I bet your wife is a good cook. As for the teachers union, I don't know the amount of money the WEA spent on campaigns or to whom it made contributions, but it is within its rights to support candidates that it views as supportive of public education. Why wouldn't they? I'm not sure what would be controversial about that. The teachers I know also contribute plenty of their own personal funds towards extra school supplies and a great deal of post-graduate education to make them better teachers.

Regardless, I'm not sure of your point. Do you want the teachers to chip in extra money to rebuild Wa-Hi? Walla Walla is blessed with dedicated teachers who have done a great job educating my children. That's enough. This is another reason why I feel good about putting 21st century educational tools in their hands - assuming the bond passes.

Posted 7 January 2013, 9:05 p.m. Suggest removal

notpeggyhuntington says...

The point made in the letter about communities in Tri-Cities and Yakima supporting their public schools is well-taken. I think it is safe to say that young professionals looking to relocate in southeastern Washington are going to consider the schools in the district as a part of their decision making process. Tri-Cities and Yakima have modern high schools that evoke a better first impression. Based on first impressions, one can't blame young medical professionals for choosing Chiawana, Hanford, Southridge, Davis, (over Wa-Hi) for their children over Wa-Hi. We have three hospitals in town; I fear that these hospitals will become less competitive at attracting new talent if we do not support the Wa-Hi bond, and we will be stuck driving out of town in order to see the best doctors.

Posted 7 January 2013, 10:37 p.m. Suggest removal

fatherof5 says...

Very true, notpeggy. Just the fact that Wa-Hi science rooms can't accommodate the kind of labs that colleges expect students to have had experience with is really disturbing.

Posted 8 January 2013, 5:17 p.m. Suggest removal

barracuda says...

If you buy a new car.... And it happens to be a Lexes or a Mercedes...
And I also need a new car... But, I cant even afford a Kia....
Guess what, I will not be buying a car just because you have bought one.... My point... we cannot afford to do this now, just because Tri-cities has the top of the line schools,(good for them) we simply cannot afford to do this now.... We have to pay some bills first.. then we need to rebuild!

Posted 8 January 2013, 5:30 p.m. Suggest removal

fatherof5 says...

It's been 50 years, barracuda. That's 20 years longer than any Tri-Cities school. And unlike a car, this is an investment that appreciates in value. Kids learn more and operating costs go down. Depending on the value of your house, this will add $5-$15 per month, but about $8 on average. There are exemptions for poorer folks. The $8 is your online subscription to the U-B. Apparently, you can afford it.

I would argue it is the cost of continuing to neglect these issues that we can no longer afford.

Posted 8 January 2013, 5:52 p.m. Suggest removal

Iopine says...

Your missing my point - the teachers union receive there money from dues from the teachers. The teachers are paid through the tax payers. Now if I wanted to donate to a campaign I would do that myself and not through an entity that I thought put that money into healthcare and pensions for those teachers they represent. You see I look at the deeper end. I'm very disgusted about that situation and then turn around and expect to go on strike because they don't have the money in there coffers to support the teachers that thought they had healthcare and pensions covered. I'm not indicating that local teachers would but they are involved in the unions failures. If the teachers wanted to make a personal donation that is there business but were the teachers on board or did they even know about the Union putting such a deletion in there retirement account?

Posted 8 January 2013, 6:30 a.m. Suggest removal

fatherof5 says...

I fear we are digressing, namvet, but I'll respond briefly. After teachers are paid by the employers (i.e. the taxpayers), just like any of us, they can spend their money as they see fit. Most are members of the association, but some opt out. Union members pay monthly dues with their own money, a portion of which goes toward various political campaigns. Teachers elect their representatives, who are then accountable to the teachers. None of this money comes out of retirement accounts. Like other PACs, unions have been making political donations with the consent of their members for many decades, but it is their money, not ours. That's why there is no controversy.

It is worth noting that this has nothing to do with the bond, which is primarily about remodeling some really old buildings, cutting the district's energy costs, and improving educational opportunities for kids. I hope it answers your question, though.

Posted 8 January 2013, 1:50 p.m. Suggest removal

Iopine says...

I'm well aware of what the bond is for ie: the building of a new high school at the cost of $68,000,000,000. dollars that nobody has the money to support other than people looking to put more homeowners in a tax burden til death do us part. I don't think that I have digressed at all because we already have a school bond out there for millions of dollars that I have looked at all of the supposed entities that are benefiting from it. I am not happy with the bill of goods we were sold! We are currently paying for the school tax(so-called levy), city of WW bond, SD#140 bond & SD#140 general. Now your constant ranting about pushing this bond through now sounds as if you are a teacher or member of some organization that you have a lifetime healthcare and pension coverage. I have stated in the past I don't mind paying my own freight but when somebody burdens me with more freight so I have to refrain from being able to live like a human being I'm calling BS. This school has maintained its education with students for 50 years and I'm sure that a couple more years will not hurt an iota of learning. If they were taught readin, writin & rithmetic they have the capability to move on to any college in the land without the impact of the looks or condition of the school they were taught in. Have a nice dream?

Posted 8 January 2013, 6:14 p.m. Suggest removal

Iopine says...

I failed to respond to your explaination on unions - I stated that the teachers earned there pay and every option to spend as they wished and the teachers pay dues into the unions. If you are trying to say unions have a slush fund (there revenue is gained from teachers dues) in the amount of $850,000 to be squandered on a political campaign your all wet. I realize that unions give money to different campaigns but it certainly doesn't make it right and agreed upon by the majority of the contributors. You still have to take into consideration of the monies coming out for the union bigwigs for there wage and travel in there SUV's. I will use an old cliche "I was born at night but it wasn't last night"!

Posted 9 January 2013, 5:46 a.m. Suggest removal

fatherof5 says...

You think the WEA has "union bigwigs" traveling in "SUVs" and there is a secret source of funds beyond the union dues? Okay, well, let's move on then...we are in very different places and to continue down this particular path won't be productive for either of us.

Namvet, to summarize the most relevant portions of our postings.... you believe the bond is ill-timed due to (1) your personal economic situation, (2) your concerns about national issues, and (3) your objection to overlapping bonds. Those are all real concerns. As for me, I believe the more we delay, the more we risk (1) interest rates going up, (2) construction costs rising, and (3) incurring further losses in energy bills and (4) squandering the educational potential of our kids. While I respect your personal economic challenges (and can relate to them, I assure you), I see this bond as a good value for our community...and one that will benefit us all. Though we haven't changed each others' minds, hopefully our dialogue has been useful to others. I imagine our online paths will cross again. :)

My best to you.

Posted 9 January 2013, 9:57 p.m. Suggest removal

chicoli says...

Let's see...In summary the most juicy argument from all these delicious point of views are the gourmet offerings, from casseroles to lasagnas and cheeses to go with the...whine? I would like to kick it another notch and offer a bowl of Puertorican rice and beans. Had I been namvet I would've jump at it, accepting the goodies and inviting these guys for an over-lunch civil discussion but with the promise not to offend liberals who, after all, are good people too. Keep it local, no political big cheese invited, please. Bon appetite!

Posted 9 January 2013, 11 p.m. Suggest removal

Jo99362 says...

It is always interesting to have this discussion with people who do not own homes or pay property taxes that pays for these bonds. They magically assume they are being screwed too. I had to point out to a welfare parent that she is not paying for any of these bonds for the schools, I am. I also pay for her subsidized rent, her food stamps, her state medical, her WWCC certification, her free bus pass, her utilities, and such. Her anger shouldn't be at me for not paying more for HER. Its amazing how people do not know where all their free stuff comes from, people who work and pay taxes.

Posted 10 January 2013, 5:19 p.m. Suggest removal

Iopine says...

Jo99362 - my sentiments exactly! fatherof5 - sorry but it's very atypical of a few Walla Wallans - no objective answers but plenty of ways to spend, spend, spend and spend some more.

Posted 10 January 2013, 6:13 p.m. Suggest removal

fatherof5 says...

Virtually everyone I know is voting for this bond, owns a home, and has objective reasons for supporting the bond. Jo is trying to create a straw man opponent.

Posted 10 January 2013, 7:01 p.m. Suggest removal

Iopine says...

fatherof5 - refer to comment above!

Posted 11 January 2013, 6:12 a.m. Suggest removal

fatherof5 says...

I *was* referring to your comment and to Jo's comment immediately above, so I'm not sure what you mean. "Atypical," by the way, means "not typical," but I think you meant that Jo's example of a non-home-owning poor person supporting the bond without objective reasons was "typical" of Walla Walla. I disagreed, at least anecdotally, since virtually all of the people I know in Walla Walla are homeowners and have very good, objective reasons for supporting the bond.

Like mine, Jo's experience is anecdotal. Unlike me, however, Jo is attempting to create an image of the "pro-bond" voter as homeless, foolish, and on welfare. Aside from being an offensive stereotype, Jo has no empirical data to back this up. He is using a combination of straw man and ad hominem arguments, both of which are logical fallacies. Jo should stick to the issues.

Posted 11 January 2013, 11:44 a.m. Suggest removal

barracuda says...

Landlords will raise the rent to cover the costs inferred by these type of bonds and levys

Posted 11 January 2013, 6:16 p.m. Suggest removal

fatherof5 says...

A bond just expired and another one will in a few years. The costs and savings come and go for homeowners and landlords, but overall, they stay within a predictable range. Rents shouldn't be affected.

Posted 11 January 2013, 6:54 p.m. Suggest removal

barracuda says...

Actually, when I was renting a house, the contract included wording to include the levy's etc.
It stated, "total monthly rent price shall be adjusted to include and to compensate the local taxes, levy's and school bonds".

Sorry, you wrong on this issue......

Posted 12 January 2013, 10:08 a.m. Suggest removal

Iopine says...

It's very unbelievable that you keep avoiding the issue - the issue is that the taxpayers are overburdened with debt and you keep expounding about adding more on. The issue is when does the spending end until the economy turns around and somebody can actually live on what they earn instead of supporting everyones wishes.

Posted 11 January 2013, 5:53 p.m. Suggest removal

fatherof5 says...

Avoiding the issue? I'm "expounding" about maintaining our district's infrastructure and supporting its ability to properly educate kids in the 21st century. That IS the issue. You are the one who wants to talk about teacher's unions and SUVs. Since one bond just expired and another will in a few years, this is not "adding more on," as you claim, but rather continuing our community's long-term, and yes, never-ending, support of education. What kind of dream world are you living in if you think these buildings will last forever?

Furthermore, as a 20-year bond, if history is our guide, the bulk of this bond will be paid over the course of an expanding economy. The question is whether or not we want to take advantage of today's low interest rates and competitive construction costs, and whether we are willing to tell this year's 4th and 5th graders that they aren't worth the investment to provide them with proper science labs when they reach high school.

You talk about "everyone's wishes" as if these issues were frivolous. This bond is about the hard cold reality that we currently are throwing money away with the energy vacuum that is Wa-Hi, and our kids are missing out on the kind of scientific education that is our responsibility to provide for them. Your personal "wishes" may be to hide from these realities and hope they go away. They won't go away. You want to postpone them? They've already been postponed for years. Supporters of this bond are willing to face up to the reality that even during a slowly recovering economy, we still have an obligation to take the responsible step of adequately providing for the young people of our community.

The beauty of it - which you seem incapable of seeing - is that it comes back to benefit all of us in the end with better educated kids, higher quality schools, and higher property values as a result. It's going to be a win-win for everyone, even for you, namvet.

Posted 11 January 2013, 6:50 p.m. Suggest removal

Iopine says...

Atypical: irregular - unusual - not conforming to type was appropriately in the context of the above comment. The young ladies comment was to contrast the takers vs. the makers and understandable that taxpayer funded individuals would not comprehend this phenomenon of poverty growing larger every day! When the only concept is wealth redistribution for the benefit of others trying to make it sound like a win-win-win situation is totally ridiculous.

Posted 12 January 2013, 7:32 a.m. Suggest removal

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