All players essential for Delta High School's future

By the Tri-City HeraldDecember 5, 2012 

The aptly named Delta High School is represented by a triangle. To be successful, this needs to be a equilateral triangle, with all sides and angles equal.

The word "delta" also means change. We see the change Delta is making in our community and in education across the state.

We're glad the Richland School District has signed on to an agreement that allows Delta High School to continue building for the future.

It is curious that the Richland school board seemed almost hesitant to sign the agreement. This has been a joint agreement between the three districts, along with vital partnerships from the community, from its inception.

All the districts seem to be big supporters of the groundbreaking STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) school -- especially Richland, perhaps because the school building has been in that district.

Perhaps therein lies the district's hesitation.

Although it's a joint venture, Richland was the host district and could have been left with a financial obligation if the venture were to fail.

Much of what Delta is trying to do with its new building depends on state funding. We've seen the budget predictions. We understand the concerns.

Under the new agreement, the Washington State STEM Education Foundation will be buying the property to lease back to the districts, a move that puts any financial liability on the foundation.

It's hard to criticize elected officials for wanting to be good stewards of the public's money -- even though it can be frustrating when due diligence seems to stall progress.

We chat with lots of people and it is surprising how many visitors to the Herald's board room voice their support for Delta, even when the topic is not education.

In just the last few months, we've heard that message from Gov. Chris Gregoire, Sen. Maria Cantwell, both gubernatorial candidates and just about everyone running for any office in the Mid-Columbia.

Fortunately, their support extends beyond mere talk. Many of these people provide financial support or volunteer as mentors to the foundling school.

This spring, Delta will present its first graduating class. Its seniors are finishing up internships and starting to send out college applications.

The school is also getting ready to recruit eighth-graders for next year's freshman class. Spread the word, it's a great opportunity.

The dream of a STEM-focused school in the Mid-Columbia is taking shape. The last four years have been a journey of many firsts.

Delta is maturing, and it has predictably outgrown its current facility. The old Columbia Basin College campus in downtown Richland was never meant to be able to hold 400 students. It was a temporary solution from the beginning.

Like nearly everyone we talk to, we're big fans of what students and faculty are doing at Delta.

We like that it is open to students of all abilities, selected by lottery.

We love the cooperation between the school districts and the partnerships with businesses.

And we're happy to see that what looked like a balk from one of the main players was quickly overcome before it could cause any real damage.

To be a successful community project, the whole community needs to support Delta High.

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