Nov. 18, 2022 – SKAMANIA, Wash. – State and local elected leaders met at Skamania School this week to learn about how school leaders used state grant funds to modernize facilities without an additional burden on their local taxpayers.

“Skamania is a prime example of the value of utilizing grant funds to extend the life of its facilities,” said Skamania School Board Chair Angus Anderson. “By sharing our approach with lawmakers, we hope to pave the way for state-sponsored facilities funding opportunities for other small, rural schools.”

Skamania School was awarded a $3.8 million Washington State Modernization Grant in 2021, and with those funds made critical updates to their aging 75-year-old school building. With the grant award, Skamania dramatically improved the efficiency and longevity of the building, with a new roof, new windows and doors to minimize heat loss and the creation of a leak-proof building envelope, a new HVAC system, new plumbing and electrical, and a new septic system. These improvements added another 30 years to the life of the facility.

Elected leaders who traveled to Skamania to learn more about Skamania’s approach include:

  • Sharon Tomiko Santos, Representative of the 37th District and House Education Chair
  • Steve Tharinger, Representative of the 24th District and House Budget Chair
  • Joel McEntire, Representative of the 19th District
  • Greg Cheney, Representative-elect of the 18th District
  • Paul Harris, Representative of the 17th District
  • Kevin Waters, Representative-elect of the 17th District
  • Heather Lewis-Lechner, Senate Democrats Leadership Council

“It’s challenging to pass a school bond in the state of Washington, especially with the supermajority requirement,” said ESD 112 Superintendent Tim Merlino. “Skamania demonstrated that, in partnership with our CSG team, there are other ways to extend the life of school buildings without asking voters to pass a bond.”

“We are proud of the innovative work of Skamania leaders, both past and present, and thank lawmakers for making the trip to Skamania to better understand school facilities funding options,” said Skamania Superintendent Milt Dennison.

Other leaders in attendance included Superintendent of ESD 112 Tim Merlino, Executive Director of the CSG Kirk Pawlowski, Skamania School Board Chair Angus Anderson, current Skamania School Superintendent Milt Dennison, and former Skamania School Superintendent Dr. Ralph Pruitt.

Skamania School was built in 1947, and many of the original systems are still in use. While the structure of the building is solid, some of its systems were at the end of their usable life prior to the updates.

The visit from lawmakers was timely, given their 2023 Legislative Session will begin in January.