Warnick bill to boost funding for rural skill centers becomes law

The governor Wednesday signed legislation sponsored by Sen. Judy Warnick, R-Moses Lake, that will improve funding for rural skill centers.

Senate Bill 5874, which was approved by the Legislature unanimously, requires direct funding of certain satellite skill centers in rural areas. The concept for the legislation was brought to Warnick’s attention by the Davenport School District.

“This change in state law will allow better funding of these critical centers in rural communities around the state,” said Warnick. “As our economy changes, we need an adaptive and skilled workforce in areas, but funding can be a challenge. I’m pleased that this legislation to ease the burden on local districts for operating these satellite centers will become law. These rural skill centers now have more options to deliver quality educational opportunities without additional administrative and financial burdens.”

The Davenport School District operates a satellite skill center in partnership with the Spokane School District, providing career and technical education (CTE) to high school students. However, some of the CTE programs may be too expensive or specialized for one school district to operate alone. Warnick’s legislation allows for direct funding of these centers if they meet certain requirements such as:

  • the center is located at least 30 miles from a core campus or other satellite program and enrolls students from a minimum of two school districts;
  • the center is solely responsible for hiring staff and covering all staffing costs; and
  • the CTE Advisory Committee and local school district board of directors recommend and support the direct funding.

“The Davenport School District and community is very appreciative of Senator Warnick’s efforts to get the rural satellite skill center bill passed this session,” said Superintendent Jim Kowalkowski. “This bill will allow us to receive direct funding for our two satellite skills programs (construction trades and nursing) and will provide our students and students in nearby rural districts opportunities for pre-apprenticeship courses that are hands-on and pathways to amazing careers.”

There currently are 14 skill centers in Washington state, many serving rural communities. The new law goes into effect July 27.