Richland School District

2017 Bond Issue

Questions & Answers

Q. Why is a District preschool center needed?

The Richland School District hosts as many as 15 preschool programs scattered through our elementary schools. These preschool programs include classes for Developmentally Delayed children ages 3 to 5 who qualify for special education, as well as the federal and state-funded preschools of Head Start and ECEAP (Early Childhood Education Assistance Program).

By consolidating these programs into a single building (renovation of the 1982 Jefferson wing) we will realize several benefits. First, when these classes are all together in one place they will be able to share equipment and facilities such as pre-school playgrounds and specialized classroom resources and professional development for teachers with a common student age group. Second, we will then free up that many classrooms in other elementary schools for classes in grades K – 5, thereby reducing the need for additional classrooms in portables or additional buildings.


Q. What specific upgrades will be made at Fran Rish Stadium?

  • The home side bleachers, locker rooms, and restrooms do not meet health and safety codes.
  • The track needs resurfacing and recent patches are only temporary.
  • The grass field can only host about 10 varsity football games per year and cannot host any playoff games.
  • An artificial surface field (see safety study below) can be used 12 hours a day all year long and is expected to host football, soccer, lacrosse, marching band, PE, and other events.

“Replacing grass with field turf would be a very positive change for students. No longer would our P.E. classes, marching band, and sports teams be restricted from using the surface.”  - Mike Edwards, RHS athletic director

January 2017 Study - Safety of Crumb Rubber Field Turf Surfaces


Q. What specific upgrades will be made at the Hanford High School athletic field?

  • Need bleacher seating for entire student body (2,000).
  • Need restrooms and concession stand.
  • Need a field turf surface to host 150 events per year including P.E. classes and marching band.
  • The track needs resurfacing.
  • There is potential for a cooperative stadium project with WSU Tri-Cities.

Installing artificial turf, restrooms, bleachers, and concession stands will allow the Richland School District and Hanford High School to develop more community partnerships while meeting the educational needs of our students.”  - Eric Davis, HHS Athletic Director

Q. Why are replacement of Badger Mountain and Tapteal Elementary Schools on the bond issue?

The two schools were built in 1978. Both are out of date, too small, and not up to current code. It’s time to provide Badger Mountain and Tapteal students with the same up-to-date educational facilities as our recently completed schools such as Marcus Whitman and Orchard.

Status of Badger Mountain and Tapteal – November 2016:

  • Electrical and mechanical systems are failing; last year, RSD spent over $200,000 in labor/materials for repairs at each school. 
  • 1978 electrical wiring cannot handle the educational requirements of 21st century learners.
  • Handicapped access is inadequate.
  • Fire safety and air quality systems need to be upgraded.
  • Roofs leak due to old age.
  • Number of classrooms is inadequate; adding more portables is not the answer.

With ongoing population growth in south and West Richland, the current Badger Mountain and Tapteal are undersized at 48,000 square feet; the new buildings will be significantly larger (around 65,000 sf) providing the necessary instructional space for smaller class sizes, full day kindergarten, and more special education classrooms.

The new Badger Mountain and Tapteal will:

  • Have a separate gym and commons area.
  • Have designated rooms for art, music, and special education services.
  • Meet current seismic codes.
  • Be more secure – front entrances will have secure vestibules for visitor check in; no exterior classroom doors.


Q. Is there a need for two additional elementary schools at the present time?

A. From Superintendent Rick Schulte.......

  • The 10 existing elementary schools have 246 classrooms. With moderate growth in student enrollment, and with a class size goal of 20 students per teacher, we expect to need 15 more elementary classrooms in 2017, another 11 elementary classrooms in 2018, and another 11 elementary classrooms in 2019 (37 more rooms within three years).
  • In addition, we expect to need as many as another 10 special ed elementary classrooms during that time. So the district will very soon need two new elementary schools to handle enrollment growth with reasonable class size.
  • The district expects to qualify for full state matching funds for two new elementary schools in this time frame due to the added enrollment and overcrowded conditions. Even if enrollment growth slows, it will only delay the need for new elementary schools by one or two years.


Q. Why is the Richland High School auditorium on the 2017 bond issue?

A. From Superintendent Rick Schulte.......

The 35-year-old auditorium is inadequate for both school and community groups such as the Mid-Columbia Ballet’s annual production of The Nutcracker. The outdated auditorium will be brought up to code. The Richland School District will receive four million dollars in state assistance money for the auditorium project. The improvements list includes…..

  • Add restroom facilities  (800 more square feet)
  • Add handicapped seating and access
  • Add a center aisle to eliminate the current safety hazard
  • Replace stage curtains, riggings, and wood floor
  • Replace orchestra pit cover
  • Replace sound system, lighting and lighting controls
  • Replace 1,500 seats (250 will have folding tablet arms)
  • Modernize all mechanical and electrical systems
  • Replace auditorium doors, hardware, window wall systems, and security grills
  • Add six water fountains
  • Construct new vestibule(s)
  • Re-roof main building
  • Insulate exterior walls to comply with energy code
  • Remove and replace all finishes


Q. Why has the District decided not to place a third high school on the 2017 bond issue?

A. From Superintendent Rick Schulte.......

  • The district has been looking for a site to purchase for a third high school. Finding 70 suitable acres at a reasonable price, in the right location, with a willing seller, and without issues such as wetland, endangered species habitat, and uneven topography, has been a challenge. Nevertheless, the district may be close to locating and purchasing land for a third high school that meets all those requirements.
  • The district depends on state matching funds in order to build new schools. State matching funds account for as much as 45% of the cost of a new school. For a new, third high school in the Richland School District, this could be $45,000,000 or more of state money. The district will not be eligible for sufficient state match funds for a new high school until sometime in the 2022 to 2025 time frame.
  • In the meantime, the school district is preparing to construct and install 12 new classrooms at both Richland HS and Hanford HS. These will be modular buildings with interior halls and restrooms similar to the building at HomeLink next to Jason Lee Elementary. We expect these buildings to open in time for the opening of school in September 2017, adding a total of 24 classrooms to the two high schools.
  • The school board has had a number of discussions regarding construction timelines for a new, third high school. The board has considered this need as part of its long-term facility plans, and the board’s commitment to maintaining an affordable, relatively consistent tax rate. Current board discussion has focused on a 2021 bond election for a new high school. This will allow the school district to qualify for all the state matching funds we need for this high school.


Field Turf Information:   This is the Federal EPA site.  Because of the need for additional information, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) are launching a multi-agency action plan to study key environmental human health questions. 

Background Statement:  “Concerns have been raised by the public about the safety of recycled tire crumb used in playing fields and playgrounds in the United States. Limited studies have not shown an elevated health risk from playing on fields with tire crumb, but the existing studies do not comprehensively evaluate the concerns about health risks from exposure to tire crumb.”   Often cited NY State Report on study of health affects rubber in athletic fields;

Synopsis:   “Our review of the available information on crumb rubber and crumb rubber infilled turf fields indicates that ingestion, dermal or inhalation exposures to chemicals in or released from crumb rubber do not pose a significant public health concern.”    Lead dust in fields  synopsis:  “The risk for harmful lead exposure is low from new fields with elevated lead levels in their turf fibers because the turf fibers are still intact and the lead is unlikely to be available for harmful exposures to occur.”