Voters reject Wa-Hi School bond measure

WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- For the third time in recent years, Walla Walla voters rejected a school bond. The school district has been trying to pass a bond since 2006.

Despite a recent history of failing school bonds, Walla Walla's superintendent was still taking in the latest rejection.

"We're going to need to take some time to digest what happened and do some studying and listening and then kind of go from there," said Mick Miller.

Some studying and listening resulted in the most recent bond. It asked for just $10 million for a science building - a fraction of the nearly $50 million asked for last year that would have resulted in a complete overhaul of Walla Walla High School.

A task force didn't recommend this latest bond. It cost between $20,000 and $25,000 to put on the ballot. The task force favored waiting a bit longer before putting something before voters.

Initial results had the bond falling about eight percent short of the supermajority needed.

KEPR talked to people in the community about their feelings on raising property taxes to pay for the projects at Wa-Hi.

Dee Haun was in support for each bond the district has pitched.

"When I walk by and go to plays and when I walk by and look in the windows, it looks pretty much exactly the same as it did since 1975," she said.

Doug Gordon voted on a Walla Walla school bond for the first time and felt the district could have scaled back the project even more.

"I think they could have done a little better with maybe remodeling the science building and then bringing in what they needed," said Doug.

He's already concerned about what he pays to the county.

"Pretty high property taxes when compared to the rest of the state. I think for a small community here, we pay plenty of property taxes," he said.

"The cost of educating kids and realizing that our community needed it," said Dee.

Need or not, the voters seem to want to leave these rusty pipes for the next generation.

"We know our facility is in need of updating and modernization, and that's just not going to happen for a while," said Miller.

Walla Walla High is roughly a half-century old. Bonds have been requested to expand overcrowded classrooms, update technology and reduce the costs spent on heating and air due to outdated systems.

The district doesn't expect any uncounted ballots to change the results of the election.