A measure that would lead to the creation of a model policy to help school districts restore their facilities following natural disasters passed the House of Representatives Wednesday, 96-1. House Bill 1003, sponsored by Rep. Brad Hawkins, R-East Wenatchee, would pull state resources and agencies together to develop a model policy to guide school districts following natural disasters, such as wildfires, mudslides, and earthquakes. The legislation is in response to the Pateros School District, which suffered more than $2 million of damage to its only school building during the Carlton Complex Fire in 2014.
“Schools need to have a better guide on how to handle natural disasters that affect school buildings,” said Hawkins. “My hope is that this bill would give school districts a starting point for what to do, who to call, and what resources are available if there is a natural disaster that directly affects another school’s infrastructure and school year.”
The Carlton Complex Fire’s damage to Pateros School District occurred just weeks before the school year was scheduled to begin. School administrators had to scramble to replace the roof, carpeting, ceiling tiles and more, while obtaining funding, working with insurance, and acquiring a waiver from the state to start classes just five days late.
If passed and signed into law, the bill would provide a model policy for school districts to know who to contact, what to do first, and how to seek financial and informational support at both the state and federal levels. The policy would be optional for school districts.
During the 2015 session, the bill passed the House with unanimous support, but unrelated politics about teacher evaluations kept House-passed education bills from advancing in the Senate last year. Under legislative rules, the measure was returned to the House for reconsideration.
For more information on House Bill 1003 click here.
Photo caption: Jon Wyss, Okanogan County Long-Term Recovery Group Chairman, and Lois Davies, Pateros School District Superintendent, testified before the House Education Committee last session in favor of HB 1003.
For more information about Rep. Hawkins, visit: www.representativebradhawkins.com.
Rep. Hawkins’ media:
Washington State House Republican Communications
461 John L. O’Brien Building
P.O. Box 40600
Olympia, WA 98504-0600