Kennewick School District awarded top state grant to reduce class sizes

This week the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction named 21 school districts that will receive grants to reduce the student-teacher ratios in their K-3 classes. The nearly $234 million in state funds will be used by districts on capital projects to provide more classroom space and flexibility.

Sen. Sharon Brown congratulated the Kennewick School District on receiving the largest grant, totaling more than $51.1 million.

“Getting this level of infusion of state dollars is historic and great news for our students,” said Brown, R-Kennewick. “In the last three years, the Legislature has made an unprecedented investment of more than 4.5 billion dollars into Washington’s public schools. I’m glad to see that students in our community will be benefiting directly from this increase in support.

“These funds will give the Kennewick School District the resources it needs to lower class sizes and give students an environment more conducive to learning and achievement.”

The grants were funded thanks to Senate Bill 6080, which passed 44-1 in the Senate and unanimously in the House of Representatives in 2015. Under the measure, districts had to certify a count and usage of all elementary-school classrooms and teaching stations. Washington State University’s Extension Energy Program was then tasked with validating the data.

OSPI notes that districts successful in the application process were required to certify that they have available sites, authorized local funds, and projects will achieve progress towards all-day kindergarten and average K-3 class-size objectives for the 2017-18 school year. Districts may also use funds to add K–3 classroom capacity by modernizing existing classrooms in previously closed buildings.

Brown, who serves on the Senate Ways and Means Committee, called the class size-reduction grants just one of the ways she and her colleagues are working to provide a world-class education system for Washington students.

During the 2016 legislative session, lawmakers approved a supplemental budget that includes an additional $7 million to recruit and retain K-12 staff and support for beginning teachers. The Legislature also responded to a state Supreme Court ruling that threatened the future of public charter schools in Washington, passing a broad bipartisan measure to fund charter schools through state lottery revenues, which are not dedicated to traditional public schools.