Opinion

It's time to give students the new school they deserve | Sen. Roach

By Sen. Pam Roach
For the Auburn Reporter

When Auburn High School opened its doors in 1949, the Bel Air was the No. 1 selling automobile, the "Texaco Star Theatre" was the top-rated television show and the U.S. government had a computer called the Univac 1101.

The Univac required 760 square feet of space and 2,700 vacuum tubes, and along with the Bel Air and Texaco Theatre, has been gone for more than 50 years.

Everything has a functional life ... even school buildings. It is time to build a new facility for the students of Auburn High School. We have that opportunity with the Auburn School bond vote on Tuesday.

Auburn School District Superintendent Kip Herren has put together an impressive plan that will provide students the facility they need and deserve. Since current bonds are being retired, this measure would require a net zero tax increase on current property taxes. The plan would use the existing structure while the new facility is built on the other side of the school property.

Each year it becomes less and less cost effective to maintain Auburn High School. Heating systems, roofing, pipes and paint are expensive. It has become prohibitively expensive at a time when education demands wiring and infrastructure for computer interactive classrooms. Time has worn down the functioning parts of the buildings. It is a better deal to build anew than to continue fixing and replacing. This maintenance has and will cost the Auburn taxpayers millions of dollars over the years.

Most school districts have replaced or totally refitted high schools this age. Tacoma in the last 10 years has torn down and built one new high school (Mount Tahoma), gutted and rebuilt two historical high school structures (Stadium and Lincoln) and built new additions to two others.

Auburn School District over the last two decades has built two new high schools for an expanding student population. Auburn Riverside opened in 1995 and Auburn Mountainview opened in 2005. It is now time to face the new challenge of meeting the building needs for students attending Auburn High School.

AHS students need a building that has functioning Internet access and an electrical system that can run computers. They need the technology in the classrooms that they will be expected to know in the work place. The existing building cannot adequately provide these needs.

The bond is our opportunity.

Auburn can receive up to 25 million dollars from the state if our bond measure passes. These funds are available now, but there is no guarantee that they will be available in the future if this bond fails.

My five children attended Auburn High School, so I attended a lot of games and swim meets. I have visited classrooms, attended political functions and forums. I even attended memorial services there. Even years ago it was obvious that the building's best days were past.

None of us would have a computer that takes up 760 square feet. It makes sense to move forward for our kids sooner rather than later. It is bad for the students and financially untenable for the district.

Please support the Auburn School District bond measure to create an Auburn High School building that can take our children into the future.

Reach Sen. Pam Roach (R-Auburn, District 31) at 360-786-7660 or roach.pam@leg.wa.gov

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