Our Voice: Permanent home in Pasco for Delta High boon for all Tri-City school districts

A permanent home for Delta High School has become reality.

That is not much of a surprise. But the location certainly is.

When you think of science, engineering, technology and mathematics, Richland is the obvious -- or maybe stereotyped -- choice.

That's where Delta found a temporary home for the past few years, and Richland is a city teeming with scientists and engineers working for Hanford contractors and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

For reasons that still aren't entirely clear, however, the Richland School District balked at being the host district for a new permanent facility.

Delta High has 340 students from the three Tri-City districts, and its first senior class will graduate this spring. It has been leasing buildings from Columbia Basin College in Richland.

But that temporary situation has run its course, leaving Delta in need of a permanent home. The Pasco School District quickly provided a solution, with a site at Road 100 that will become Delta High School.

Board members in Kennewick, Richland and Pasco approved the agreement with the Pasco district earlier this month.

Now that a location has been procured, school officials can spend their time trying to secure construction dollars from the state. The leased building now occupied by Delta limits its growth and course offerings, officials say.

The new school will cost about $18 million, with the districts and the Washington State STEM Education Foundation lobbying the Legislature for that funding. Private donations are also sought, and Bechtel National has provided $250,000.

The Pasco School District will purchase the 6.4-acre site for the school. Kennewick and Pasco districts will likely have some costs associated with the construction project as well. Richland gave up its say over the location and construction in exchange for no financial liability for the project, another bit of a head-scratcher that makes the district appear less than an enthusiastic partner.

We're not sure why the Richland School District didn't pursue Delta High, but we're glad the districts are moving forward together to get the school built.

The building's location is less important than what goes on inside. All three districts appear to agree on that key point.