Tuesday is not only Valentine’s Day. It’s also is Election Day in certain parts of the Mid-Columbia.
If you haven’t bought a card for your sweetheart, you might want to make that purchase soon.
And if you have not marked and mailed your ballot, do that too.
A combination of booming growth in our region and a state mandate requiring lower class sizes in kindergarten through third grades has made it tough for school districts to find classroom space for all their students.
Prosser, for example, has almost as many elementary school kids in portables as in the main school buildings. In Burbank, Columbia school officials say a stage at the elementary school is being used as a classroom.
In Richland, new housing developments have exploded in the south and the west — which means more families and more kids.
Richland’s overall enrollment has grown by 2,000 students since 2012, and the number of students is expected to increase another 2,000 in the next four years. If the bond is approved, two new elementary schools will be built where the most growth is expected.
Pasco’s surging enrollment has been even more extreme. Its school bond would pay for two new elementary schools and additional classroom space at Marie Curie Elementary School. If the bond fails, it is hard to imagine how the school district will cope.
Old buildings also need to be fixed in all five school districts.
Finley’s school bond would pay for a variety of upgrades throughout the district, with a large portion going toward renovating the Career and Technical Education building at the high school.
The structure is a converted bus barn from 1970, and the only way to keep it ventilated is by keeping the doors open.
Prosser needs to replace its aging high school, which was built in 1936. While the brick makes it look fine on the outside, the inside is old and inadequate for today’s needs.
In Pasco, Stevens Middle School, which was built in 1961, will be remodeled and expanded if the school bond is approved.
And in Richland, Tapteal and Badger Mountain elementary schools, both built nearly 40 years ago, will be upgraded if voters give their OK.
These are just a few general highlights of the need in our school districts.
We wrote in detail about all these school bond proposals in previous editorials, and readers who have yet to vote can look these up on our website for more information.
Some people think that because they don’t have kids in school, they shouldn’t be asked to support a school bond — or that only new families moving in should pay for new schools.
That’s like saying only people over age 65 should pay for senior centers, or that only people who picnic should pay for parks.
Communities don’t work that way. We all have a duty to help each other out, and supporting our schools is part of that responsibility.
We have spoken with school officials in all five school districts, and believe that in every case, they have tried to keep the taxpayer in mind in making their requests.
The need is great and the bond proposals have been carefully crafted. We recommend a “yes” vote.