There are a lot of things that benefit from some streamlining and thoughtful downsizing. Judging from the plans, the Entiat School District’s proposed bond and school modernization project is one.
The bond on the November ballot substitutes for the bond and project that in February failed by a whisker to obtain the required 60 percent majority. The $7.95 million bond that received 58 percent support is now a $5.6 million bond, downsized by $2.35 million but accomplishing many of the same necessary improvements and modernizations. When the bond failed, the district hired a new architect to work on a new plan. The school board approved, and the district says the new plan accomplishes the same priorities at 30 percent less cost.
The district’s elementary wing dates to 1948, so it’s no surprise in reading the district’s explanatory brochure, that the project deals with practicalities like wiring, heating, air conditioning, plumbing, windows and energy efficiency. The kitchen and cafeteria will move out of the basement to improve access and safety and efficiency. The old kitchen and cafeteria will become new classrooms. New classes will be added to the upper level of the elementary wing. Special education classes will be moved out of the portable. Bus lanes and student pickup areas will be redesigned for safety.
The bond is less because the project is reduced by some 3,100 square feet. A four-classroom addition was dropped in favor of remodeling existing space, and base construction costs are lower. The district’s Superintendent Ismael Vivanco told our reporter Christine Pratt the efficiencies mean the original bond shortfall is “almost a blessing in disguise.”
The time is right for this bond. The district makes a convincing case for necessity. The district’s existing bond expires a year end. State matching funds are available, at $2.8 million. The bond expense to Entiat taxpayers will rise from $1.18 per thousand on the expiring bond, to $1.79 per $1,000 in assessed value for the new, but interest rates are low and that will buy a lot.
Schools are cheapest and serve students best when up to date, efficient, comfortable, and built for future needs. Entiat’s proposal will do that. It deserves a yes vote.
This is the opinion of The Wenatchee World and its Editorial Board: Publisher Rufus Woods, Editor Cal FitzSimmons and Editorial Page Editor Tracy Warner.