School Levy Passes in Hermiston, Only One Passes in WA - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

School Levy Passes in Hermiston, Only One Passes in WA

Posted: Updated:

HERMISTON, Ore-- Despite tough economic times a local school district levy passes. The levy will allow the Hermiston School District to build three new schools.

In Washington only one school levy passed. In Oregon only 11 passed and Hermiston's was  one of them. The district will get almost $70 million to replace three very old schools. 
KNDU went to one of those schools Thursday, Sunset Elementary built way back in 1957. Cracked walls, uneven floors, and leaks in the ceilings make it obvious that this school needs a makeover.

"There's not one area of the building that isn't used for something we have to stop using the library because that's the only place we can meet," said Shawn Worstell, Principal of Sunset Elementary.

Sunset Elementary as well as two other schools will be getting new buildings because voters passed their first levy in nearly a decade.

"We're actually going to be building a replacement school along the site that will be located just to the east of this current facility. When that school is finished and accomplished those students will move to the new school. This school will be torn down and turned into a play space and parking lot," said Wade Smith, Hermiston School District Assistant Superintendent. 

There is only one hallway at Sunset Elementary. The school was designed with an open concept which was nice in the fifties, but the principal says it's not safe in today's world.

"We're open, all of our classrooms open out to the outside with the exception of three classrooms which means there's an incredible safety risk. In my mind anybody can walk up to any room so we have to keep our doors locked," said Worstell.

The recent economic crisis prevented several levies from passing around the country, making the Hermiston School District even more relieved.

"We definitely were concerned as the economy turned downward here this early fall," said Smith.

All three schools are predicted to be finished by 2011.