Capital Budget Committee holds public hearings on McEntire school funding proposals

The House Capital Budget Committee recently held public hearings on legislation that would assist small schools with capital finances and provide revenue to small school districts.

Rep. Joel McEntire, R-Cathlamet, introduced both measures, House Bill 1044 and House Bill 1444.

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

“Under the state's current funding model some small districts have a much easier time accessing state construction funds, while it is a struggle for other districts,” said McEntire. “There are school districts out there which fail to pass construction bond levies due to bond capacity. It could also be folks in the community may not be able to withstand the property tax increase, especially with the increase of goods and services over the last year or so.”

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.

The other piece of legislation, House Bill 1444, would require the Common School Construction Fund to finance the prioritized project list of the Small School District Modernization Grant Program before appropriating funds for other capital projects if the money in the Common School Construction Fund exceeds the total grant project costs. 

“This is another opportunity to assist our small school districts by providing common school trust revenue,” said McEntire. “While the focus of the legislation tends to be more rural and small districts, it will not negatively impact urban school district construction.”

The legislation has the support of the Washington State School Directors Association, the Rural Education Center, small school districts, and others.

“I am excited about the strong bipartisan support for both bills. I have been working closely with my colleagues across the aisle. Providing a quality place to learn and ensuring our schools are in good condition is not a partisan issue. Both of these bills would help small school districts in all corners of our state,” said McEntire.

Neither bill has been scheduled for a vote by the Capital Budget Committee. The fiscal committee cutoff is Feb. 24.


Washington State House Republican Communications