Prosser School District may ask voters to support new high school

By Ty Beaver, Tri-City HeraldSeptember 17, 2013 

PROSSER -- The Prosser School District is starting down the path of asking voters to support building a new Prosser High School.

Board Chairman Jermey Tuttle had just one question Tuesday night for a visiting state education official about that effort.

"How do we go to the community and have them tell us what they want?" Tuttle asked.

"If I knew that I think I'd be in a higher-paying job," replied Gary Miller, the state's regional school facilities and organization coordinator.

It's not known when the bond will be on the ballot but district officials said they hope to avoid a repeat of four failed bond attempts since 2005.

"If you do what (the community) wants, it's going to work," Tuttle said.

The high school in downtown has been added on to several times, most recently in the '60s, and gone through a few renovations.

But the school has almost 300 more students than its designed capacity of 600 and has problems when it comes to technology and security.

Miller, who works in the Spokane office for the state Superintendent of Public Instruction, said the district will need to have a study and survey done of district buildings before putting together a proposal and building plans and going for the bond.

Prosser voters most recently rejected two $40 million bonds for a new high school in 2011, with critics saying the price tag was part of the problem.

Board member Win Taylor asked Miller why the state couldn't help out with that issue, possibly by having a standardized set of school designs available for districts.

"You could save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars (in architectural costs)," he said.

Miller said there are intellectual property and code issues that made it difficult to maintain such plans. There also is a tendency for communities to not like having every school appear identical.

"The community has to decide what they want for their kids," Miller said.

Superintendent Ray Tolcacher said it's important for students to have a good school to learn in but the district will approach any bond carefully.

"There's a whole bunch of steps that have to happen," said Tolcacher.

w Ty Beaver: 582-1402; tbeaver@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @_tybeaver

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