Magnolia Elementary School is expected to reopen in the fall of 2019. Photo by Joe Veyera
Magnolia Elementary School is expected to reopen in the fall of 2019. Photo by Joe Veyera

The long-awaited passage of the state’s $4.2 billion capital budget in the opening weeks of the legislative session means much-needed funds for a bevy of local projects.

“I’m sorry we had to wait this long,” said Rep. Gael Tarleton. “The commitments to our communities that this budget represents are just extraordinary and will have long, long impacts,” she said.

In the 36th District, the modernization of Magnolia Elementary is among the biggest beneficiaries, receiving $4.3 million in distressed schools funds, and an additional $2.3 million from the School Construction Assistance Program. The school is expected to reopen in the fall of 2019, and serve up to 500 students from kindergarten through the fifth grade.

“It’s just a beautiful building,” said Sen. Reuven Carlyle. “[We’ve] been working for nine years to get a combination of city and state money to open that up, and [I’m] just beyond thrilled that we now have a whole new community foundation; reengaging the Magnolia community in the form of an elementary school.”

In all, the budget includes a record $1 billion for state schools to help reach class size reduction goals for K-3 classrooms. 

The Seattle Opera will get nearly $2 million as it continues work on its new administrative, education, community engagement, and rehearsal space on the former site of Mercer Arena. The project is slated for completion by year’s end.

“It’s an extraordinary way of opening up access to Seattle Center,” Tarleton said, while also emphasizing the educational component of the Opera’s work.

The Seattle Repertory Theatre will receive more than $250,000 for renovations to its primary creative space, the PONCHO forum. It serves nearly 5,000 people per year — hosting audience engagement programs, youth arts education workshops, and other special events — in addition to serving as the rehearsal hall for main stage productions.

Carlyle called the 36th District the cultural, arts, and music hub of the city.

“Having the theatre, arts, culture, and music is not an academic exercise,” he said. “It’s part of the spiritual essence of who we are.”

Just shy of $1 million is earmarked for the Interbay Public Development Advisory Committee, which Tarleton referred to as the first coordinated state and city effort to look at the state-owned parcels along 15th Avenue — south of the Ballard Bridge — to help determine the future of the industrial lands along that stretch.

But Tarleton noted it’s not always the most money that makes the biggest difference, citing $167,000 for the Millionair Club Charity, for renovations to its meal kitchen.

Kjerstin Wood, the nonprofit’s communications manager, said the funding will allow them to speed up the kitchen upgrade, instead of having to fundraise for individual pieces of the project over a longer timeframe.

The nonprofit provides approximately 100,000 meals each year to those in need, and Wood said it requires commercial-grade equipment and facilities to do so.

“The meals program is one of many comprehensive services that MCC offers to help people struggling with homelessness get jobs and an income that will allow them to secure stable housing,” she wrote in an email.

Tarleton said she thinks the upgraded kitchen will have, “an enormous impact on the future quality of life,” for those that use it for job training.

Carlyle mentioned $250,000 will go to match county dollars for the Smith Cove Park renovations.

Meanwhile, the Pacific Science Center will receive $30,000 as part of the Heritage Capital Projects Fund for continued work on the Yamasaki Courtyard.

“I don’t know how we would do it without help from the state on this,” said Diana Johns, the Science Center’s vice president of exhibits.

While past rounds of funding have gone toward cleaning and resealing the terrazzo on all of the original buildings, replacing all of the courtyard trees, and converting the original satellite lights to LEDs, among other efforts, this latest influx of cash will be used on the east staircase that lead up the present-day PACCAR Theatre, and the areas of terrazzo underneath.

Johns said that all things considered, the courtyard has held up “remarkably well,” over the past 55 years, but terrazzo declines quickly when it starts to break off.

Outside of the district, Carlyle also mentioned the state’s investment in water quality; totaling $350 million — including $55 million for local governments to treat contaminated storm water — and the money going toward the state parks system. In all, he said the budget touches every category of the quality of life in Washington.

“I think it’s representative of everything that we value in our public infrastructure,” Carlyle said. “The reason we’re a great state is that we have an educated workforce, an engaged citizenry, and strong public infrastructure, and that’s why companies are here, and that’s why jobs are here, and that’s why we have a strong economy.”

Tarleton credited her constituents for getting the capital budget across the finish line.

“I think the reason we passed that budget 15 days into the session is because every constituent, every community meeting, every town hall we had kept reminding us — get that capital budget passed — and that pressure from the outside made all the difference,” she said.

For a complete list of state capital budget projects sorted by district, go to housedemocrats.wa.gov/the-advance/whats-in-the-states-construction-budget/. To comment on this story, write to QAMagNews@nwlink.com.