Senate unanimously approves major school seismic safety funding bill

Thursday, February 10, 2022

American Geosciences Institute

OLYMPIA — Schools in parts of the state threatened by earthquakes or tsunamis would be able to draw from a sizable pot of state funding to replace or retrofit buildings, under a bill passed by the Senate tonight.

“Hundreds of school buildings across the state, from tsunami zones on the coast to seismically active areas inland, face a high risk of serious damage,” said Sen. David Frockt (D-Seattle), the sponsor of SB 5933
“Low-probability but catastrophic risks like earthquakes and tsunamis are some of the hardest for communities to guard against. The cost is high, and the likelihood for any one town is that its schools will be spared a disaster, making it hard to justify funding.
“But when multiplied by all the communities in potentially geologically active areas across our state — one with an unusually high risk of seismic activity, as Mt. St. Helens demonstrated so lastingly — this problem is urgent.”

Frockt’s bill would establish a grant program to provide state funding toward the cost of replacing or seismically retrofitting school buildings in high seismic areas or tsunami zones. The grants would pay two-thirds of the cost of replacing or retrofitting eligible schools.

Eligible school buildings would have been built before 1998 and not retrofitted more recently than 2005.

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.


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