A pair of bills passed today by the Senate would reduce classroom overcrowding and create thousands of new jobs in communities across the state.

Senate Bill 6080, sponsored by Sen. Bruce Dammeier, R-Puyallup, and co-sponsored by Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Kent, would build more than 2,100 classrooms for grades K-3 over the next six years at a cost of nearly $1 billion. The plan would create more than 11,000 jobs, 4,000 in the first biennium alone.

Initial funding for the school construction plan comes from House Bill 1115, which the Senate amended to conform to the Senate’s capital budget proposal, which also passed today. The capital budget contains $280 million to launch the K-3 construction program.

“In the operating budget this year, we make a heavy investment to reduce class sizes in grades K-3, where smaller class sizes do the greatest good,” Dammeier said. “But when we reduce class sizes, we need more classrooms to put them in. This school construction program makes it possible to us to achieve our goal of reducing classes to 17 students and putting a quality teacher in every classroom.”

A key component of Dammeier’s and Keiser’s legislation is that it reforms the state’s antiquated Eisenhower-era formula for allocating classrooms to better address the needs of today’s communities.

“Under the existing formula, a school district’s poverty level is not considered,” Keiser said. “This bill for the first time includes at least a partial inclusion of free and reduced lunch rates as a part of calculating how much state construction assistance is allocated.”

At the same time, the new formula also factors in the space needed to reduce Kindergarten to 3rd grade classes to no more than 17 students to make sure the state’s money is spent where it’s needed the most.



For interviews:         Sen. Bruce Dammeier, 360-786-7648                                     Sen. Karen Keiser, 360-786-7664 For information:      Erik Smith, 360-786-7037                                     Rick Manugian, Senate Democratic Communications, 360-786-7569