Senate OKs $544M for school construction

OLYMPIA — The Washington state Senate voted unanimously Monday to authorize $544 million in bonds for school construction projects, including $10 million for security upgrades spurred by the deadly Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

In addition to Senate Bill 5445, the upper chamber unanimously passed a measure detailing that the school security money go toward panic alarms alerting local law enforcement of emergencies, reducing the number of public entrances to schools and controlling and monitoring those entrances to make it harder for unwelcome parties to get inside.

Sen. Bruce Dammeier, R-Puyallup, said he introduced Senate Bill 5197 in response to the December elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn., that left 26 students and teachers dead.

“I wish we lived in a world where our schools were entirely secure and our kids were perfectly safe,” Dammeier said. “Sadly, that’s not the world we live in. But we can make them safer than they are today.”

The measure is in contrast to one introduced last week in the House that would permit school districts to authorize teachers and administrators to carry guns at work. That measure, House Bill 1788, sponsored by Rep. Liz Pike, R-Camas, has not been scheduled for a hearing in the Democratic-controlled House.

The Senate passed the two measures a day before several school districts, including Seattle, Tacoma and Puyallup, vote on school funding levies of their own.

Traditionally, the Legislature passes a construction bonding measure late in its annual session that covers everything from building upgrades to parkland acquisitions.

Sen. Steve Litzow, R-Mercer Island, said the push to fund school construction separately from other projects underscores the Republican-dominated Senate majority’s focus on funding K-12 education.

“We want to make sure that we’re sending a very clear message that it is a priority for us, in both the capital in the operating budget,” Litzow said.

Litzow and other Republicans in the Legislature are pushing an agenda to allocate K-12 dollars separately and in advance of other moneys. With two Democrats joining 23 Republicans to form a one-vote majority in the Senate, the school construction bonding measure’s passage on Monday can be seen as part of that broader effort.


Follow AP Writer Jonathan Kaminsky at

More in Local News

Snohomish mayoral candidates have very little in common

Karen Guzak and John Kartak are vying for the new position.

Second teen charged after $1 million in school vandalism

Two teens now face felony charges for damage at two schools in Darrington last summer.

Charged in stabbing, his long list of felonies could grow

The Arlington man is accused of attacking a man who interrupted a possible burglary in Everett.

A potentially transformative council election in Snohomish

As the city adopts a new form of government, many new faces are seeking office.

Mill Creek hires Gina Hortillosa as public works director

Hortillosa will be responsible for creating strategic infrastructure plans to promote economic growth.

1 shot dead, another wounded in apparent Everett robbery

There are indications the victims might have known the shooter, who apparently fled in a vehicle.

Man arrested in Monroe Walmart robbery; second suspect flees

The pair fled in a stolen Mitsubishi Lancer with a distinctive green spray paint job.

Fugitive surrenders after missing for more than a year

A former Darrington man who absconded after serving time in… Continue reading

Most Read