The state Senate unveiled its proposal for the 2023-25 Capital Budget today. Hailed by negotiators as a record investment for housing, state Sen. Ron Muzzall is proud to have secured nearly $30 million for school districts who’ve struggled to get local resources for capital projects. Oak Harbor School District, whose local bond was recently rejected, is set to receive the lion’s share of capital-related funds.
“Capital costs are significant burdens for our school districts and I’m proud to support these robust investments from the state,” Muzzall said. “Oak Harbor has tried unsuccessfully with their local bonds, and I think taxpayers feel fatigued with those assessments. This mechanism of funding is a way to meet those needs without further burdening property owners in the district.”
In the Senate’s version of the state’s construction budget, $13.9 million would go toward the Oak Harbor Early Learning Center, which houses early learning programs for children ages 3-5 and other special education programs for the district’s youngest learners. Another $13.6 million is allocated to Crescent Harbor Elementary. Muzzall also fought to include funding for La Conner School District, which would receive just over $1.5 million for their capital projects in the Senate’s proposal.
Muzzall points to the high level of funding as an opportunity for schools to receive further federal matching dollars to make capital improvements a reality. If the level of funding championed by Muzzall is maintained, the district could be eligible for an additional $55.9 million for early learning and $53.9 million for elementary schools.
“Thank you to Senator Muzzall for his continued efforts advocating on behalf of our students. Through your leadership, we have an opportunity to capture critical Department of Defense federal matching dollars to rebuild two aging schools on military installations that currently house more than 800 students (pre school – 12th grade) every day,” said Oak Harbor School District Superintendent Michelle Kuss-Cybula. “By approving Senate Bill 5324, you are investing in our children and the future of our community. Thank you for being a champion for all of our students.”
The final capital budget still needs to be negotiated with the House of Representatives and approved by both Chambers. The House is set to release their proposal next Monday, March 27. Muzzall is committed to working with his House counterparts to maintain the strong education spending during negotiations.