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Washington state superintendent seeks $50 million for school seismic upgrades

Washington state's superintendent of public instruction wants to upgrade 17 campuses considered "very high" risk in the event of an earthquake.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington state Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal is asking lawmakers for $50 million to make schools safer in the event of an earthquake.

"It’ll save lives," said Reykdal.

In 2016 the state’s Department of Natural Resources started identifying campuses at "very high risk" of damage in an earthquake.

Engineers conducted tests on more than 500 campuses, mostly older schools built before building codes of the 1960s factored in earthquake risks.

Last year, Reykdal received more than $13 million to renovate, repair, and upgrade six campuses.

This year he is asking lawmakers for additional funding to improve safety at 17 more schools, they include:

  • Burlington-Edison School District 100, Burlington-Edison High School, Gymnasium-Fieldhouse Building
  • Centralia School District 401, Washington Elementary School, Main Building
  • Clover Park School District, Custer Elementary, Classroom Building
  • Federal Way Public Schools, Camelot Elementary School, Main Building
  • Hoquiam School District #28, Central Elementary School, Main Building
  • Mary M. Knight School District 311, Mary M. Knight School, Elementary School Building
  • Marysville School District 25, Marysville-Pilchuck High School, Library Building (Building J)
  • Morton School District, Morton Elementary School, Main Building
  • Napavine School District, Napavine Jr/Sr High School, Annex Building
  • Ocean Beach School District, Ilwaco High School, Main Building
  • Port Townsend School District, Port Townsend High School, Gym Building
  • Port Townsend School District, Port Townsend High School, Math-Science Annex
  • Quilcene School District #48, Quilcene K-12 School, Middle School Building
  • Quilcene School District #48, Quilcene K-12 School, High School Building
  • South Bend Public Schools, South Bend Jr/Sr High School, High School Main Building
  • Tacoma Public Schools, Tacoma School of the Arts, Pacific Avenue Building
  • Woodland Public Schools, Woodland Middle School, Gym Building

While the state Office of Public Instruction (OSPI) has been focused on the coronavirus pandemic, Reykdal said 2021 is the perfect time to ask for more funding.

"Given the fact the feds keeps sending us billions of dollars right now," said Reykdal, "We have the financial ability to do both… and we should."