On Feb. 14, the Moses Lake School District is asking voters to approve a $135.3 million construction bond to build a new high school and a new elementary school and upgrade the existing Moses Lake High School. Voters already started receiving their ballots in the mail this week and have a lot to think about.
Voters should consider approving the proposal for many reasons. As it stands now, about 2,200 students are crammed into Moses Lake High School, which was originally built for about 1,600 students more than 60 years ago. Creative scheduling, online classes, the Columbia Basin Technical Skills Center, and utilizing the Running Start program at Big Bend Community College have helped open up some space, but those solutions aren’t adequate for the long term.
We also need to maintain what we have at the existing high school. Moses Lake High School needs a lot of work done, including new roofing and flooring, an upgraded cooling system, and classroom remodels. The high school was originally built in the 1950s. So it’s expected that costly maintenance projects will crop up, just like they would for your home. Most homeowners know that money needs to be set aside to maintain a safe and well-run home. A school, with hundreds of students walking the halls each day, naturally requires more work and upkeep because of the heavy wear and tear. Many taxpayers respect and appreciate that. Now they need to step up to the plate and approve the bond.
Crowded classrooms are a problem in the younger grades as well. Many Moses Lake elementary schools are looking at moving all of their fifth-grade classes starting next fall, according to a Jan. 31 Columbia Basin Herald article. The district is planning on moving all fifth-graders from Lakeview Elementary and Garden Heights to the portable classrooms at Chief Moses Middle School. More portables are also planned, one at Knolls Vista Elementary, two for Park Orchard, and one for Longview. We hope the bond is passed that would add a permanent new grade school to the mix.
We know a larger tax bill isn’t what people want right now, but something needs to be done. More meetings and more bond campaigns aren’t the answer. Action is needed, best shown with your ‘yes’ vote.
A modern high school with room to grow is essential to prepare students for college and the working world. With two failed bonds behind them, Moses Lake voters should consider the future of the community and its students. It is time to pass the bond to better position students for the future.
— Editorial Board