Why would we not build a second high school?

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Dr. Randy Bruce

So why would you not build a new high school if 60 percent of your voters said ‘“let us work together and make our community a better place to live, grow, and enjoy our families and friends?” We know we have problems with our current high school but how deep are these problems? We now have approaching 8,500 students in the district with about 2,300 high school students attending a school built for about 1,600. We have limited infrastructure with an inadequate commons where our students are encouraged to leave the campus to have lunch, an auditorium that only seats 500, and a gym that seats about 1,500. These facilities are unable to support the students and adding classrooms will not improve the infrastructure’s daily ability to provide the basic education support for each student.

We have about 450 teachers in Moses Lake with 17 schools and close to 100 in MLHS. We currently have a high absenteeism rate, higher than the state average at greater than 15 days missed per year per student, and a higher teacher absenteeism than the state average. You could get the impression that they do not want to be there.

We have a dismal graduation rate: depending on whom you listen to, between 72 percent and 78 percent with a five-year average of 75 percent. Our neighbors in Ephrata graduate 92 percent, Quincy 84 percent, and Warden 82 percent. To put it in perspective, we rival inner-city schools with about the same graduation rate. We know if you do not graduate with a diploma or equivalent you tend to make 20 percent less income and maybe that will help explain why we currently have 57 percent of our students in Moses Lake qualifying for free or reduced lunch with home incomes at below the $21,590 house hold income. Are the Moses Lake School District Board of Directors contributing to this trend in our community or do they really care? We need good jobs and we need to do a better job at educating our youth. Higher drop out rates contribute to higher crime and more drug use with higher court and community costs dealing with this threat to our peaceful community.

We have a counselor-to-student ratio of 444 students per counselor, compared to the Washington average of 322 students. The average SAT scores at 946 are below the state average of 1006. We know we have a bond cap of $192 million and we currently have out for bond $160 million and we have the money to build a new school now and we can really address these problems in our schools because it is a community problem. We recently heard our superintendent report that we need to wait until 2028 to build the second high school because of the increase in state matching funds of $40 million more, but several weeks ago he stated we lose about $5 million per year in buying power with a loss of $50 million waiting for 2028 again losing $10 million more of your property tax money.

So I ask you: why would you not build a second high school now and not wait until 2045 until we would finally have the bond cap space to build a new high school? It is time our school board really show they care about our community by providing a great learning environment for our high school students, provide a great place for our teachers to do the job they are trained to do, and be prudent with the taxpayer money. Stop the waste, get involved, and don’t expect that the current board will do the right thing.

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