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Timber sales should benefit rural school districts, state superintendent says

Chris Reykdal is proposing to change a system that was established in 1889.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Ever since Washington became a state in 1889, timber sales have helped build new schools.

Superintendent of Public Instruction, Chris Reykdal, said the system unfairly benefits students in urban school districts.

He wants legislators to “refresh” the funding system that helps school districts pay for new buildings with revenue generated from timber sales on state trust lands. 

”The revenue from the timber is almost exclusively landing in our most urban counties, King County, Pierce County, Spokane County, and interestingly, Yakima County,” Reykdal said at a press conference Tuesday.

He wants lawmakers to only let rural school districts obtain funds from sales on state trust lands.

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Reykdal said much of the funding comes to districts through bonds passed by voters, something that is harder to accomplish in rural districts. A bond requires a 60% majority to pass.

”We are a state that has to share in our interests, our kids deserve equitable opportunities to learn no matter where they are,” said Reykdal. “It should not be the case that because you can pass a bond in a wealthier part of our state, that you're the one getting all those matching dollars.”

Reykdal said after speaking with legislative leaders from both parties, he considers his proposal “doable.”

He is also asking that state funding still be offered to urban school districts when bonds are passed, but he wants that to come from the general fund, not from the sale of trust land timber.


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