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Cheney Free Press
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March 5, 2015     Cheney Free Press
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March 5, 2015
 

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Page 4 Free Press Thursday, March 5, 2015 Bond failure ne With the county's certifica- tion of the Feb. 10 special elec- tion last Wednesday, Feb. 25, the Cheney School District's nearly $44.8 million construc- tion bond for expanding and remodeling the high school has come up short of the needed 60 percent majority for pas- sage. The bond received 3,712 yes votes, 58.43 percent, which according to school district of- ficials and bond supporters is about 100 votes shy of passage. With an eye to possibly re- runoin" g the bond in April the district's school board accepted extended public input at its regular meeting Feb. 25 at Sal- nave Elementary School. With 150-200 people in attendance, it was a good start to hopefully a more involved public discus- sion than previously staged prior to the special election. It shouldn't be the last at- tempt by the school board to garner public comment. To that extent, the district has pub- lished a link to an online survey on its website to gather more input, and we encourage all voters to take the survey, pro and con. We would like to see them do more to ascertain a repre- sentative slice of public opin- ion on the measure to be paid for through 20-year bonds that will add to the district's existing bond debt. Specifi- cally, we would like to see the board personally reach out to the 41.57 percent of district residents who rejected the bond - a significant increase over the 34.17 percent who voted no on the $79 million bond for two new middle schools and an elementary school built with state matching funds in Febru- ary 2010. While last Wednesday's meeting was a good start, it wasn't representative of the special election. Of the 25 peo- ple who spoke; four questioned different aspects of the bond proposal. That's only 16 percent of those commenting - far lower than those who voted no. It's important all voices be heard on this matter, and that a good, proper public debate take place, not just a series of informational meetings. Voicesneed to be heard because there are many factors to consider. The current high school is overcrowded and not adequate to accommodate an- ticipated growth over the next 5-10 years. The expansion and remodel will alleviate that, but it's only part one of two. Another $42.9 million bond is planned to reno- vate the existing structure in 2025, with hopefully $25 million in state matching funds avail- able. By this time, the work done under the current bond proposal may be almost outgrown. There will be other needs as well, such as transportation. And about this time, some of the current district facilities will likely begin needing repairs and upgrades. The district also anticipates adding another elementary school in the same period. Con- struction for Snowdon Elemen- tary School which opened in 2013 as a result of the 2010 bond, cost $13.35 million alone, not counting expenses for furni- ture, equipment, staff and other essentials. There's the costs to residents. If the bond measure is passed, the 75 cents per $1,000 of as- sessed property value needed to pay for the work will fall on everyone. While most discussion has centered on homeowners, rent- ers could also see their monthly bills go up as landlords look to pass along the increased charg- es. And there is also the point that even among homeo@ners, an increase of a hundred dol- lars or so could create financial hardships some might not be able to endure. There are also factors out- side local control such as gas prices rising again and tak- ing with them prices on other commodities. Spokane Transit Authority is looking at put- ting a tax measure on the April ballot to pay for their "needed" improvements while county commissioners are considering revisiting a proposed property tax increase to pay for a correc- tions facility. And there's the elephant in the room - paying for class-size reduction Initiative 1351. Legis- lators are seriously considering asking voters, who approved the measure last November, how we wish to pay for it. There's a lot to be consid- ered with the proposed bond. Yes, we want the best facilities and learning environment for our students. But if we create financial hardships on students' families, and leave our children with a legacy of public debt they will always be paying off, haven't we done more harm than good? Quality of facilities play a role in tudent' As a parent, community nities that wouldn't otherwise be member and educator I ask possible. My son is able to walk Cheney's citizens to consider the into Cheney Middle School on a important role quality facilities daily basis confident that he will can play in the education of our be invited into a comfortable en- youth, and also about the mes- vironment where he can use com- sage sent to the children and ed- men areas to socialize, eat break- ucators in our community when fast, and review homework. people choose not to vote. These same areas provide I have lived and worked opportunities for teachers to in Cheney for nearly 12 hold collaborative classes and years. Cheney School District meet with large groups of hires outstanding people, and kids. Students enjoy lunch I know they will do their best without cramming around work given any circumstance, tables or sitting on floors. My However, the amazing new son is able to take computer facilities we have built for our and science classes that weren't Cheney and Westwood middle previously offered due to lack school students provide opportu= of space and technology. He FREE SS Vol. l18-No. 46 Press Production Manager Randy Warwick Pressman Mark Cordes Sales Steve Barge , DeeAnn Gibb Front Office Venus Bratsveen Dawn Chernak Editor John McCallum Reporters Paul Delaney AI Stover Graphics Brittani Montecucco John Myers Bookkeeper/Office Manage= Debi Labish . Publisher Harlan Shellabarger The Editorial Board is composed of Paul Delaney, A1 Stover, Brittani Montecucco, Bill Ifft, John McCaUum and Harlan Shellabarger The Cheney Free Press is The Free Press re- published every Thursday quests that contributors by the Free Press Publish- observe the following dead- ing Company, William Ifft, lines, which will be Strictly president. Periodical post- . enforced: age paid at Cheney, Wash. 99004. Published at 1616 W. OBITUARIES, MEETINGS OF GOVERNMENT First Street, Cheney, Wash. AGENCIES -- Tuesday, 10 a.m. 99004. CHURCH, CLUB MEETINGS, ALL SOCIAL NEWS -- Monday, noon POSTMASTER: Send DISPLAY ADVERTISING -- Monday, 4 p.m. address changes to: Cheney LEGAL NOTICES -- Monday, 5 p.m. Free Press, P.O. Box 218, CLASSIFIED ADVERTISING- Tuesday. 11 Cheney, Wash. 99004-0218. a.r,. ID PUBLICATION # 10224O Rates: Addresses in Spokane County, $24 per year; $36 per year outside Spokane County; senior citizens in Spokane County, $22 per year. For other rates, call 235- 6184. Subscription cancellations are non-refundable! HOW TO CONTACT US Phone: 235-6184 Fax: 235-2887 ernail: cfp @cheneyfreepress.com www.cheneyfreepress.com ducation tallds' b Ot t these classes every/ stand. Woulff yOu'Whnt to be I thank the voters whO lr,- day /nd-'i's eager to attend there? Would yo/] look for an proved the levy on Feb. 10, them. Having worked for five alternative? and I am asking for long-term years in the old Cheney Middle Consider trying to be inno- support and participation from School, I know students and vativeinyourjobandnotbeingCheney's citizens in future teachers were not nearly as ex- able to carry your ideas for- elections. What message do cited about a school that didn't ward because the lack of space you want to send to Cheney's meet their needs, wouldn't allow for it. Would students and educators? Consider walking into a you look for a job somewhere business or doctor's office and else where you could do your Carol Mahoney Lewis having no place to sit or even best work? Cheney closer look at Iternative Take A new theater is a luxury. CHS has numerous alternatives at Eastern and al- though it may not be the high school it is a wise and excellent alternative for student produc- tions. The parking situation pos- sibly needs to be addressed. This can be accomplished by investigating how often the portables are used. Are they all used six hours a days? Are they all necessary? Additionally, I agree with Chris that smaller community meetings are in order to answer these questions. School board meetings do not have the neces- sary time for this dialogue. We passed our M & 0 levy, which is money well spent. Cheney has incredible teachers and schools. The high school may be in need of ad- ditional classrooms but I find most of the other items on the bond to be excessive. Bill Johns' alternatives to the school bond are informative and well researched. I agree with Chris Stewart's letter that the financial impact on voters with two bonds to pay off is not affordable for many people. Students have eaten lunch sitting in the hallways for as long as I have volunteered there the past 20 years. It is their choice and comfort. The gym situation can be solved with ro- tating practices. Many schools in our league use this schedule as well as GSL schools. A1 Stover Staff Reporter Covers all Medical Lake government, oornmunlly and school district news, as well as Airway Heights news and Cheney High School sports. John McCallum Editor Main contact for edforial coverage. Cov- ers all Cheney government, communi~, school district news and events, as well as Cheney High School sports, jraac pproach We all need to think long and hard re: a $44 million bond for a refurbished high school. The move of the dis- trict offices to the country was extremely expensive and i do not feel we were informed properly about that decision nor the costs involved. I am a staunch supporte of public education, teachers, and good facilities, I have vol- unteered in five CSD schools and served on numerous bond and levy committees f0r30 years. This is the first and only time I have had second thoughts regarding a bond, I want what is best for our students but I also want it to See Letters page 5 Paul Delaney Staff Reporter Covers all Medical Lake High School and Eastern Washington Universily sports and news. Contact for miscellaneous sports. pdelaney@cheneyfreepress.oom i li II i fi [I itil !i [ iii iF i ii:i ,