Rep. Jim Walsh’s bill helping rural districts build schools gets a public hearing in House Capital Budget Committee

Rep. Jim Walsh, teamed up with his 19th District seatmate Rep. Brian Blake, to sponsor a bill to help small, rural districts fund school construction projects. The bill would create a school construction assistance grant program for school districts with smaller student enrollments.

“The grant money for this bill would come out of the Capital Budget's funding for the School Assistance Construction Program, otherwise known as SCAP,” said Walsh, R-Aberdeen. “If you go back to the beginning of the program, it was suppose help rural districts with construction costs. It has gotten away from it's original mission. This simply redirects the program back to helping these schools.”

Eligibility requirements for school construction often leave schools with fewer than 1,000 students behind. They simply are not able to raise enough money through levies, and other resources, that larger, or even mid-sized schools can. House Bill 1923 would change that.

“This would help rural schools get on the same financial footing as some of these top-line, more urban area school districts,” continued Walsh. “Money from the program would help schools in our area do hard infrastructure repair and maintenance. This is directed very specifically at building, construction and reconstruction projects for smaller schools – fixing up older buildings, or building a new school if they need one.”

To be eligible for assistance, small school districts with less than 1,000 students would need to apply to the Office of Superintendent of Public Education (OSPI). An advisory board would then help identify schools with the greatest student achievement gaps struggling with construction costs.

House Bill 1923 had a public hearing Tuesday, Feb. 14. It is scheduled for a vote by the House Capital Budget Committee next week.

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov