McEntire reintroduces legislation to assist small schools with capital finances

Rep. Joel McEntire has reintroduced legislation that could provide assistance to small school districts in need of capital funding.

House Bill 1044 would provide funding for small school districts through a grant process based on need.

“This idea was brought to me by a constituent as some of the small districts in our region struggle or cannot access state funds for construction,” said McEntire, R-Cathlamet. “The current model used by the state allows some communities access for school construction dollars while other schools may be consistently failing to pass construction bonds due to lack of bond capacity or the property tax increase of a bond measure could be difficult to withstand.”

House Bill 1044 would allow school districts to receive a score based on certain criteria. Grant dollars would then go to the school district whose score reflects the most need. Projects eligible for grant funding must correct critical physical deficiencies or essential safety concerns. That includes modernizing, repairing, reconfiguring, or replacing existing buildings and construction of new buildings.

“Some districts lack bond capacity, others have difficulty passing bond measures. This is an opportunity to assist schools that have structural deficiencies or safety concerns with their infrastructure and are in desperate need of capital funding,” said McEntire. “All students should have a quality learning environment no matter their school district or what region of Washington state they live.”

McEntire also introduced the legislation last year in the short, mostly remote session. The bill did receive a public hearing but did not make it out of committee.

“We have more time this year to fine tune the bill and I can work closer with my colleagues since we are in person this year. There is also bipartisan interest in the legislation,” added McEntire.

The 105-day legislative session began January 9.

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov