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Senator makes case for federal help in school project

 

Sen. Linda Evans Parlette

While local school officials are gearing up for the initial phase of building a new K-12 facility, State Senator Linda Evans Parlette is beating federal funding bushes to find the additional $15 million necessary to finish the project.

In a letter to four members of the state’s congressional delegation, Parlette outlined why the federal government should step up to the plate and provide final funding for the construction project.

“I believe the Federal Government has a responsibility to this community,” she wrote. “This belief is supported by the Coulee Community Act of 1957 which states, ‘It is of prime importance to the Government that these communities continue to function as wholesome and attractive communities suitable as residences of the personnel essential to the care and operation.’ ”

“The Federal Government,” she wrote, “continues to have a vested interest in the Dam, and therefore should also uphold its responsibility to the residents and families who reside in the community it established. “There is no better way to show this type of commitment than by taking seriously the impact the current Grand Coulee Dam modernization project will have on the GCDSD, and by doing its part to fund a new K-12 educational facility.”

The letter went out recently to Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Congressman Doc Hastings, and U.S. senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell.

The Washington state capital budget has earmarked $14 million for the project, and another $17 million has been designated through a “distressed schools” account for a total of $31 million.

The projected cost of the entire project is $46 million, of which the district is short $15 million.

School Superintendent Dennis Carlson said last week that it is estimated that the K-12 educational wing and demolition of Wright Elementary School will cost $25 million. And construction of the new gymnasium complex will cost $5.5 million.

The additional $15 million would remodel the existing gym at Lake Roosevelt, the shops, and the athletic fields, including an all-weather track.

The demolition of Wright Elementary School will occur starting this summer, and bid requests will go out in January, 2013, with construction completed in time for fall school startup, 2014. The first students will occupy the new facility upon opening of school then.

Parlette’s letter got a boost from students at both Lake Roosevelt High School and Nespelem School in letters sent to the senator to be included with her letter to the congressional delegation.

Graduating seniors at LRHS all signed a joint letter stating: “As a legacy of the LRHS Class of 2012, we call on representatives of the Federal Government and its agencies to appropriate the funds needed to finish the job.”

Renford Sanchez, a sixth grader at Nespelem wrote: “When I go to the new school in 2014, I will be a freshman. I’m excited to go to the new school instead of the old school, it is really old and scary.”

Another Nespelem student, Kastin Wilson, wrote: “Thank you Linda for getting money for a new school. I can’t wait to go there. I’m overwhelmed that someone is steping up to build a new school for us.”

About a dozen student letters were included with Parlette’s letter.

Parlette’s complete letter and those of the students, can be read at the end of this story online at grandcoulee.com.

 

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