College Place proposes bond to build new high school
On April 17, College Place voters will have the opportunity to approve or reject a $38 million bond proposal to update the College Place School District, renovating the district’s elementary and middle schools and adding a new high school.
Most high-school-age College Place students currently attend Walla Walla High School. College Place property owners are therefore required to contribute toward levies and bonds approved by Walla Walla voters for the Walla Walla Public Schools.
“This has been on the horizon for years,” WWPS Superintendent Mick Miller said of the proposal, citing College Place’s need for a renovated elementary school and the possibility of state assistance as among the reasons for the bond’s appearance on the ballot.
College Place Public Schools Superintendent Tim Payne confirmed that he believes the time is right for the issue to be put to voters.
“We have this opportunity to offer this to the voters of College Place. It’s a very rare opportunity,” he said.
CPPS does not currently owe bond payments to WWPS. According to Payne, the district is hoping to create a new high school and remove students from Walla Walla High before WWPS passes its own bond for the renovation of its facilities.
The College Place Public Schools project will cost the district approximately $49 million, of which $38 million will be footed by taxpayers and $10 million by the state of Washington. The bond requires a 60 percent majority vote to pass. If passed, the new high school would be projected to open its doors in 2015.
As far as the bond’s effect on Walla Walla schools if passed, Miller says the impact could be both positive and negative.
“It would help make the campus less crowded, without question. The part that would be hard would be that when you lose students, you lose staff members. That’s the biggest concern for me,” he said. Miller estimates that about 350 students would leave Walla Walla High’s student population of 1,800, along with about 15 staff members.
“Right now we can offer a ton of stuff at Wa-Hi, but if the bond were to pass, we’d have to cut back a little bit,” he said, adding that despite this, WWPS supports the College Place district’s endorsement of the bond.
“We are in support of the College Place school district. If they can make this work for them, we are in support of it.”
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