Preview of Richland School bond projects

RICHLAND -- The Richland School District is gearing up to help pass a 98-million dollar bond in February. The money will be used to build several new schools and make some much-needed updates.

Brian Moore, principal at Marcus Whitman Elementary says, "The way these buildings were wired back in the 70s, there was no way of knowing what technology needs we were going to have in the future."

But now, that need is more apparent than ever.

Computers are crammed into what used to be a hallway. Power outlets line the walls in the tech lab, but many of them don't work.
Not to mention maintenance on a 41-year-old building.

"You never know what surprise is around the corner," says Bond Committee Co-Chair John Deichman. "They're spending a lot of money that could be going towards programs."

But even those programs are limited by a lack of physical space.

"We've had to resort to shower curtains to try and respect privacy," says Moore.

"You're standing here in one classroom that's empty, and you can hear the noise coming from the other pods down there," explains Deichman. "And that's very distracting to both the students and the teacher."

The bond issue addresses eight specific facility improvement projects:
- Replace Lewis & Clark Elementary School - $21 million
- Replace Marcus Whitman Elementary School - $21 million
- Replace Sacajawea Elementary School - $21 million
- Build a New Elementary School in south Richland - $21 million
- Build a New Middle School in the south/west area - $33 million
- Repurpose Jefferson Elementary and use it for HomeLink - $5 million
- Replace the HVAC system at Chief Joseph Middle School - $6 million
- Make safety improvements at Fran Rish Stadium - $2 million

It would mean $34/year on a $100,000 home, $68/year on a $200,000 home, and $102/year on a $300,000 home.

If passed, the state would also match $32 million.

Moore says, "Really, when you're looking at the scope of what this money would go towards, it's pretty amazing that total would provide all of those projects."

The district is hosting a public forum on the bond issue on Thursday, Oct. 18. It starts at 6pm at Jefferson Elementary.

Residents can ask questions and learn more about the proposed projects.