Saturday, January 19, 2013
Walla Walla has been aware of building and site needs at Walla Walla High School for years. In fact, addressing these needs was a significant part of a well-remembered failed bond effort over six years ago.
Since then the Walla Walla School District has reached out to the community for input. It has conducted listening campaigns, put together both a high school task force and a facilities task force and spent more than a year communicating and modifying the plans, including responding to the impact of the future to College Place High School.
The resulting proposed school bond to modernize Wa-Hi is a well-thought-out and needed project. What is not as well known is that Walla Walla’s current school bond tax rate is nearly the lowest of our neighboring communities. Adding the Wa-Hi bond costs will still leave us paying less than most of them.
Out of eight school districts near us, only Richland, with a $1.21 per $1,000 assessed value, currently has a bond tax rate slightly lower than Walla Walla’s current bond rate of $1.27.
Richland is voting on a $98 million bond this February to do $130 million of construction projects, including replacing three elementary schools that were built in 1971. To compare: Prospect Point is Walla Walla’s oldest elementary and was built in 1972; Wa-Hi was built in 1963.
Bond rates in all these neighboring communities are higher than Walla Walla and are as follows: Touchet at $1.49, Kennewick at $1.65 (it ran a bond in 2009 that narrowly failed), Pasco at $2.24 (it is running a $46.8 million bond for three large elementary schools), Waitsburg at $2.55, College Place at $2.67 and Burbank’s bond and capital project tax at $3.43. Tax information for 2012 is available at: http://1.usa.gov/WL5zxb .
Addressing the building needs of Wa-Hi will directly benefit the students, faculty and staff and our community for years to come and will do so at a cost that is less than what most of our neighboring communities are currently taxing themselves for school construction.
Additionally, any excess bond and state matching funds not used to complete this project will be returned to the taxpayers and will reduce the amount owed. Vote “yes” to modernize Walla Walla High School.
School Board member