I agree with those who say good teachers, not physical facilities, are the most important factor in a quality education. But when kids in some Whitefish High School classrooms are sitting with their coats on, wastewater gurgles up in floor pipes, and rain drips through the roof, that’s ridiculous. Our kids will learn better in a school that is dry, safe and comfortable, rather than one that reads like a catalog of building code violations.
A good education for kids is reason enough to invest in a new high school, but there is another reason. When businesses or families are considering locating here, one of the first things they look at is the schools. We’ve already heard of families who are moving to the valley choosing to live in Columbia Falls or Kalispell specifically because of the state of Whitefish High School. If we want a strong business environment, and we don’t want to turn into a town of retirees and second homeowners, we need a good high school.
The need for a high school building is not a new story in Whitefish. But here’s the thing: It’s never going to be cheaper than it is right now. Construction rates are low and interest rates are rock bottom. Funding from other sources has been arranged to keep the bond amount to $14 million. We can defer dealing with the high school for a few more years, but we’re all going to pay a lot more for it if we do.