Richland School District

2017 Bond Issue

Questions & Answers

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 The outdated auditorium will be brought up to code.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.


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.