Delta's future home not a concern - Delta's future is

December 16, 2012 

It doesn't matter to us which sandbox the kids play in, but we are eager to make sure Delta High stays in the mix.

The location does need to be decided, but the three school districts involved need to present a united front when they go to Olympia with their hands out.

Our three school boards need to remember the lesson this community learned when we were trying to get a four-year university in the Mid-Columbia.

We learned then that if you come with a fractured proposal, the answer is always going to be no.

We failed in our first attempt to get a four-year university in the Tri-Cities because we weren't united as a community. We went back to table, came to an agreement and the Legislature approved it.

And although Kennewick and Pasco are reluctantly agreeing to Richland's latest proposal, the coalition appears a little shaky. School board members need to stand strong together or risk hurting the school.

If two of the districts (Pasco and Kennewick) are pulling a little harder than the third one (Richland), it's hard to present that united front that's so critical to success in Olympia.

As far as where the school is built, we don't care.

There are some great things about Delta's current location, but it was always meant as a starting point.

The old Columbia Basin Community College campus is now inadequate.

When talk started last year about Richland buying the CBC property and expanding it to accommodate more students, we got used to the idea that Delta's current location would become its permanent home.

But that doesn't mean we couldn't get used to the idea of a new location.

We like that Delta is close to a library. The nearby Ben Franklin transfer station is also handy. And it's nice that the campus is not too far from one of the school's major supporters, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. (Although the campus is not exactly close to the lab, either.)

The location has some drawbacks, too.

For example, it would be difficult to remodel on the current footprint while school is in session. And the facility is landlocked.

The biggest bump in the road, though, was Richland's apparent reticence to take on the financial liability of owning the building.

Even that hurdle was cleared last month when the school's foundation agreed to hold the purse strings.

Richland, Pasco and Kennewick, they're all nice communities. We are happy to see Delta call any of them home.

What makes us nervous is the potential to lose the state's matching funds.

Both Saundra Hill, Pasco School District superintendent, and Rick Jansons, president of the Richland School Board, said last week that it's critical to get the agreements signed so the efforts to secure money for the project can move forward.

Washington leaders have been clear -- the state's education system will emphasize science and technology. Our community is on the leading edge of that quest.

We want the state to give us a $15 million building. The state wants assurances of our community's commitment to the project.

The strongest way to show it is with a single voice.

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