Chief Joe Middle School reaps the benefits of the bond passing

RICHLAND, Wash. -- Teachers were literally cheering down the halls of Chief Joe Middle School. And they had every reason to be happy, since their massive school bond passed voters roughly two-to-one.

It may be in the 50's and sunny but the heat is cranked up at Chief Joseph.

The Richland middle school is so old and drafty the teachers can't even consider going without a jacket.

Wendy Rishmond explains, "Always keep an extra sweater, and my coat handy and I always wear a jacket... And in my closet, a heavier coat."

Reporter Melanie Tubbs asked, "So you have to wear this?"

"Sometimes I do. Sometimes I have kids who are cold," she replied.

Wendy Richmond's classroom is in the part of Chief Jo that's nicknamed the "Arctic Zone."

"Often when we come in here it's below 60-degrees," Wendy continues.

So you can imagine what it was like when Mrs. Richmond heard the Richland school bond had passed.

She yells, "Hooray!! It was really good. We're so happy."

She says it's more than just a heater. She sees it as a true investment in the success of these kids.

"Finally, I think they've understood how hard it is to be in an environment where it's too cold or too hot. Or when it smells bad from gas fumes," Richmond tells KEPR.

H-VAC assessors will be here by next week.

Principal, JonLobdell says, "We'll have new HVAC systems installed by the end of summer."

The improvements to Chief Jo are just a small slice of what Richland students can look forward to. Two brand new schools in the south Richland area where current elementaries are overcrowded. Major remodels will also come to Lewis and Clark, Marcus Whitman and Sacajawea.

The updates to those schools and to Chief Jo, will mean the district can stop pouring money into repairs for antiquated buildings.
The "Artic Zone" may finally thaw out.

Richmond says, "I hoping to retire that... Donate it to coats for kids or something."

The bond will cost about $34 for every $100,000 a home in Richland is worth. The higher taxes will be in effect for the next 15 years.