STEM in the Short Session
This year’s 60-day legislative session was a productive one for STEM education. Thank you to our state legislators who worked days, evenings, and weekends to craft legislation and a budget that provides strong opportunities for STEM education for Washington’s students.
Washington STEM also thanks the members of our 50-person policy committee composed of STEM Network members and nonprofit, business, community, and education partners throughout the state for their advocacy for STEM education.
Some key results this session include:
Funding for STEM education increased
– The capital budget passed this year includes $12.5 million to provide under-resourced school districts with funds to construct or modernize STEM classrooms. The STEM Capital Grants program was established in 2015, and the six projects that were funded, including converting an old bus garage into a modern STEM learning space, are almost completed. Washington STEM will administer this year’s grant application process.
– The capital budget also includes numerous funding items for postsecondary STEM buildings, classrooms, and programs. Just a few of the projects funded include construction of a new science center at Eastern Washington University, funding for STEM Teaching labs at Washington State University, and a new Health and Life Sciences building at Highline College.
– Other key programs received a boost in funding through the supplemental operations budget, including $14 million per year for four years for the State Need Grant, as well as one year of funding at $750,000 for the Expanded Learning Opportunities Quality Initiative.
– University of Washington received $3 million to fund additional computer science and engineering degrees – much needed slots to provide opportunity for Washington students to have access to computer science and engineering career pathways.
Opportunities for underserved students expand through Washington MESA
– We successfully worked with Washington MESA to save their First Nation MESA program serving Native American students. Washington MESA also received funding for their community college program.
Eligibility for WSOS expanded
– Legislation passed that will allow students pursuing community/technical degrees and certificates to apply for the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship.
– Legislation also passed that will allow students seeking medical degrees that intend to serve high-need and rural areas in the state to apply for the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship.
There’s still more work to do to ensure that all students have equitable access to a high-quality STEM education, but this session represents some great steps forward towards expanding possibilities for young people. Thank you, again, to our legislators for your hard work!