[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a Letter to the Editor, written by a Reader. It does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The B-Town Blog nor its staff:]
All five of us Mathison kids graduated from Highline High School. My brother Phil went on to teach and coach at the school for two decades.
So, any proposed changes to Highline High are hard for me. If voters approve the school construction bond measure, 91-year-old Highline High will be rebuilt.
Fortunately, by working with Bassetti Architects, the district is demonstrating its commitment to trying to preserve the key historic aspects of the faÃ§ade and structure and incorporate them into the new school. Bassetti has completed several historic school projects, including Roosevelt and Franklin high schools in Seattle and Stadium High in Tacoma.
Looking beyond outward appearances, one Highline High teacher reports, “Out front it looks pretty but inside it’s rotting.”
Architectural and engineering inspections found falling cornice joints, leaky roofs, dry rot and plumbing problems.
A few years ago, a major leak developed in a stairwell above the library and it is still causing periodic problems.
Students say the failing heating system makes it too hot in warm weather and too cold in cool weather. Windows can’t be opened.
The building’s out-of-date electrical system can’t keep up with modern technology needs. It takes students at least five minutes to sign on to computers in the computer lab.
Open outdoor hallways make it difficult to monitor who is coming and going from campus. In addition, students and staff opening and closing the outside doors multiple times a day add to the heating problems.
Continuing maintenance has kept the failing building functional way past its expected lifespan but at some point pouring more and more money into maintenance of a nearly century-old building just drains away funds that could better be used in the classroom.
Often replacement is a better solution than renovation when dealing with ancient buildings that cannot pass current, fire, safety, earthquake and technology codes.
We who attended Highline High back in the 20th Century should not deny its current students a 21st Century educational environment just because change is hard.
– Eric Mathison
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