Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Letters to the U-B suggest Wa-Hi is shortchanging high-quality education for students.
Walla Walla School District Communications Director Mark Higgins in a Jan. 8 letter to the U-B, said the following: “At Walla Walla High School, the on-time graduation rate is 92 percent, a full 16 percentage points above the state average. Wa-Hi’s SAT and ACT scores top state and national averages in all content areas. The school offers 13 Advanced Placement courses and 13 honors classes and nearly 80 percent of the graduates move on to higher education.”
I believe Mr. Higgins. He tells this to potential businesses looking to locate here. Does he want businesses to locate here and later realize he embellished the facts? I think not.
I still have concerns about refunding excess state matching dollars. Careful wording separates state matching dollars from bond funds.
A quote from the Wa-Hi Bond Fact Sheet: “The project is eligible for $21.6 million in state matching dollars which will be used on the Wa-Hi project.” The next sentence says: “Should there be any excess funds, they will be returned to the taxpayers.” Why didn’t it say excess state matching dollars instead of funds?
The Fact Sheet defines funds as bond funds. Quote: “Any excess bond funds from the Walla Walla High School project will be returned to the taxpayers.”
They say excess funds will be returned, not state matching dollars.
Why the diminished trust? One word: Edison!
A school committee member told me architects and associated services receive as much as 40 percent of this Wa-Hi project. Forty percent of $69.6 million is $27.84 million. Is this true? If not, what do they receive?
The Bond Fact Sheet says Lincoln High will be a priority later this year. Age is a major reason given for updating Wa-Hi, but Lincoln is likely twice as old. Does age matter?
The science building is the neediest project. Let’s spend $5 million on science instead of $69.6 million on the Wa-Hi campus. Use the excess of the $5 million updating other Wa-Hi buildings.
The police station refund experience shows we need time limits on tax refunds and independent overseers to determine what expenditures are legitimately part of the Wa-Hi project.
Will we have time limits and project expenditure overseers?
These questions need credible public answers in the U-B before receiving ballots Feb. 2. If they refuse: Why?