Nine Mile Falls School District

Superintendent's Message 

Superintendent Brian Talbott
 Brian L. Talbott 
October 2016
Dear Neighbors,  

The many colors that nature provides us during this time of year are always mesmerizing.  Soon, however, the leaves will drop and winter will be upon us.  This particular fall also brings a very colorful election season.  While I won’t discuss the craziness of some campaign races, I do want to share that there is a local ballot item that affects our community not only today, but for generations to come.  This particular item is that of the high school bond.  The bond proposal that you will see on your upcoming ballot is a bit different than the one on the ballot in 2015.  This past summer, the facilities committee unanimously supported and recommended to the School Board that a completely new building be erected in lieu of trying to tie into an already existing facility.  Although the concept of the building is the same, the difference between a modernized building and constructing a new building was $1.5 million.  New construction is more expensive; however, the committee felt that a new building would, in the long run, provide better value and a safer approach for students and staff: 

  • new construction can occur and students/staff can stay uninterrupted in the current facility providing fewer disruptions to the educational process;
  • students and staff will not have to navigate internal areas of construction thereby keeping them out of harm’s way;
  • construction bids will be more competitive as contractors prefer to build new rather than tie into an existing facility; and
  • the building and all mechanical systems in it will be new and efficient. 

A common question I hear is why is it that a new building is being sought when the current building is only twenty-five years old.  The plain and difficult answer is this…it was built inadequately.  I realize saying this is a hard pill to swallow considering that the taxpayers, you, have already paid for it.  I recognize and honor the challenges that our community faced getting a high school bond passed nearly three decades ago.  I am grateful that we have a high school; frankly, I would not have considered working in a district, or raising my children in a system that did not include a comprehensive K-12 education.  That said, we indeed have a multitude of educational challenges surrounding the functionality of the current high school facility.  There is nothing that can be done, cost effectively, to create straight lines in classrooms and hallways, provide more classroom space, improve the supervision and the monitoring of students and guests, and decrease the number of unsupervised entrances.  In fact, all of the entrances to the current building are unsupervised; this is of considerable concern given the frightening reality that many schools have faced in the recent past. 

Aside from safety and security, the current building does not provide our students and staff with optimal opportunities for teaching and learning.  The most important aspect of the classroom is the teacher in it; however, the learning space itself plays a critical role as students need ample space for hands-on learning.  A few examples of the building’s inefficiencies include: the high school does not have a Performing Arts Center which means that students often practice and perform at the middle school; the oddly shaped classrooms (no two classrooms are the same shape and each has a multitude of corners and walls) minimize the actual learning space; because the current building is at capacity, several teachers are required to move from classroom to classroom as they do not have a designated space; and, one gymnasium is extremely limiting for both physical education and extra-curricular activities for a school with as many programs that Lakeside offers.   

With that in mind, I believe that only true exposure will help to share the story of the current high school.  I welcome the opportunity to provide you with a tour of the building so that you can see firsthand the issues and concerns associated with the current building.  Additionally, I welcome any conversation in regards to this bond proposal as I want to hear from you.  My district office number is 509.340.4303 or I can be reached on my cell at 509.688.7814.       

You may have recently received a statement from the county indicating an increase in your assessed property value.  During the summer, and given the most current information that we had at the time, we estimated the cost of the new high school building at $1.19 per thousand of assessed valuation.  With the most recent increases in property values, our financing team has reevaluated the numbers.  The proposed bond is now estimated at $1.00 per thousand of assessed valuation.  The cost per thousand decreases as property values increase.  The district does not collect additional revenues but rather collects a fixed dollar amount.   Seeking a tax increase is never easy or popular, but it can and has been done.  With your generous support, the district built a middle school (1998) and modernized two elementary schools (2009).  Each of these facilities was constructed with the future in mind as the learning spaces can be adapted as educational programs change.  Whether it is now or sometime in the future, Lakeside High School must be replaced.  Interest rates will likely never be lower than they are currently and construction costs will most likely continue to increase.  As with everything, the longer we wait the more it will cost.    

Please contact me if you would like to discuss the bond measure, or for that matter, if you would like to talk about all things Nine Mile. 

Warm Regards,
Brian L. Talbott, Superintendent
Last Modified on October 7, 2016