Funding from Legislature gives local school districts breathing room

Two Clark County school districts have been awarded grants that will allow them to make classrooms and other learning environments less crowded for students in kindergarten through third grade. The Ridgefield School District will receive $1.2 million and the Vancouver School District will benefit from a nearly $43 million grant; the state money will go to construct more classrooms and provide more learning space.

“This is an important piece of the ongoing education puzzle that the Legislature is solving. While I’m pleased that two of my school districts were selected for grants, there are still many needs in schools throughout southwest Washington,” said Sen. Ann Rivers, co-chair of the Education Funding Task Force. “Lowering class sizes has long been a goal, but where do you physically place kids when you add another class in a grade level? These grants, along with the additional 4.6 billion dollars the Legislature has already committed to education, are great steps toward ensuring that every child in our state has the opportunity for an excellent education.”

The K-3 class size-reduction grants are the result of Senate Bill 6080 and will be funded through the state capital budget. Districts with the highest percentage of free and reduced lunches and the most crowded K-3 classrooms were considered for grants first. Other requirements included that the district had not raised capital funds through a levy or bond in the past 10 years.

A total of 21 school districts statewide will receive grants reaching nearly $234 million. Schools that require 10 or more new classrooms to meet lower class size standards are expected to build a new school. Additional funding is directed to those schools to cover the cost of administrative offices, hallways and cafeterias. Those schools that needed fewer additional classrooms were classified as a remodel of an existing structure.