Washington State

House of Representatives

Office of Program Research



Education Committee

HB 1703

This analysis was prepared by non-partisan legislative staff for the use of legislative members in their deliberations. This analysis is not a part of the legislation nor does it constitute a statement of legislative intent.

Brief Description: Concerning comprehensive school safety planning for public and private K-12 schools.

Sponsors: Representatives Pollet, Frame, Dolan, Blake, Fitzgibbon, Chapman, Goodman, Ryu, Tarleton and Stanford.

Brief Summary of Bill

  • Requires a comprehensive engineering survey for seismic safety of public school buildings used by students, every four years.

  • Requires reports to the Legislature with information related to the seismic safety surveys and seismic upgrades of school buildings, every four years.

  • Specifies that awards of state school construction assistance for renovations require the seismic upgrades identified in the legislative reports.

  • Requires private and public schools to meet new safe school plans requirements.

Hearing Date: 1/16/18

Staff: Megan Wargacki (786-7194).


State Building and Seismic Codes.

The State Building Code (SBC) provides a set of statewide standards and requirements related to building construction. The SBC is comprised of various international model codes, including building, residential, fire, and plumbing codes, which are incorporated into state law. The State Building Code Council (SBCC) is responsible for adopting, amending, and maintaining the SBC. The SBCC must regularly review updated versions of the model codes and adopt a process for reviewing proposed statewide and local amendments. Cities and counties may amend the SBC as applied within their jurisdiction, except that amendments may not be below minimum performance standards.

Since 1955, permanent school buildings have been required to be designed and constructed to resist probable earthquake intensities at the school's location.

Geological Survey.

The State Geologist conducts and maintains an assessment of seismic, landslide, and tsunami hazards in Washington, called the Geological Survey. In addition to using the best practicable technology to identify and map hazards, the survey must estimate potential hazard consequences and the likelihood of a hazard occurring. Technical assistance is available to state and local government agencies on the proper interpretation and application of the results of the geological hazards assessment.

School Construction Assistance Program.

The School Construction Assistance Program (SCAP), administered by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), provides school districts with financial assistance to construct new, and remodel or replace existing, permanent school buildings. The SCAP is based on two principles: (1) state and local school districts share the responsibility for the provision of school facilities; and (2) there is an equalization of burden among school districts to provide school facilities regardless of the wealth of the districts. In the 2015-17 biennium, the SCAP was appropriated $646 million through a combination of general obligation bonds and Common School Construction Fund revenues.

Safe School Plans and Safety Drills.

Schools and school districts are required by statute to develop comprehensive safe school plans. Specified components of the plans include:

Schools must conduct at least one safety-related drill per month, including summer months when school is in session with students. These drills must teach students three basic functional drill responses: (1) shelter-in-place, (2) lockdown, and (3) evacuation. The required drills must incorporate the use of the school mapping information system and a pedestrian evacuation drill for schools in mapped tsunami hazard zones. The required drills may incorporate an earthquake drill using the state approved earthquake safety technique "drop, cover, and hold."

Summary of Bill:

Seismic Safety Surveys, Reports, and Renovation Assistance.

The Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI), in consultation with the SBCC, must publish guidelines and criteria for school districts, public schools that are not common schools, and educational service districts (ESDs) to conduct a comprehensive engineering survey for seismic safety of every public school building used by students. These guidelines and criteria must be updated every four years. The surveys must be completed, and the results submitted to the SPI, every four years beginning in the 2017-18 school year. The OSPI must maintain the inventory resulting from these surveys.

The SPI must submit a report to the capital budget committees of the Legislature, every four years, beginning September 1, 2018, that:

A SCAP award to renovate school buildings must include a requirement that the renovation meet SBC requirements and include the seismic upgrades identified in the legislative report described above. When making the awards, the SPI must balance two priorities: (1) renovating school buildings with the highest priority seismic risks; and (2) fulfilling state constitutional requirements for lowering class sizes in grades kindergarten through third, and reducing overcrowding in order to meet class size reductions in all grades on the schedule established by Initiative 1351 (a 2014 voter approved initiative, repealed by the legislature in 2017 though Engrossed House Bill 2242).

Safe School Plans and Safety Drills.

Public schools, private schools, and school districts must update their safe school plans no later than September 1, 2019 in order to meet the following requirements:

Emergency procedures applicable to students and staff must be published on the school's website, made available to staff in paper format, and made easily accessible at the school's main office and main entrance of each building. However, procedures related to terrorism and school violence need not be published on the school's website.

The OSPI must establish a program to provide incentives to schools that demonstrate a commitment to emergency planning and preparedness beyond the required safe school plan requirements. The OSPI may determine the appropriate incentives, as long as they encourage creativity and commitment beyond the statutory safe school plan requirements.

Emergency Planning and Disaster Preparedness Supplies, Equipment, and Services.

School boards must consider the request of any public schools that are not common schools or private schools to jointly buy emergency planning and disaster preparedness supplies, equipment, and services. The school board may provide such joint purchasing services if the schools pay in advance their proportionate share of the costs or provide a surety bond to cover their proportionate share of the costs involved in such purchases.

Appropriation: None.

Fiscal Note: Requested on January 11, 2018.

Effective Date: The bill contains an emergency clause and takes effect immediately.