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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

School Superintendent Applauds Suspension Of Class Size, Testing Requirements

Austin Jenkins
Northwest News Network
Davenport schools superintendent Jim Kowalkowski, back row center, attended a bill signing ceremony where Governor Jay Inslee delayed a class size initiative and biology test requirement.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed into law Tuesday a four-year suspension of a voter-approved class size measure. He also signed a two-year delay of a biology test graduation requirement.

One rural school superintendent says it makes sense to hold off on these two policies.

Jim Kowalkowski is the superintendent of the Davenport School District west of Spokane. He showed up at the governor’s bill signing ceremony on his way home from an Oregon coast vacation. Kowalkowski said he supports smaller class sizes, but believes a four-year delay of Initiative 1351 is “smart” policy.

“We don’t have the capacity for facilities or for teachers and you’ve got to build that foundation before you can just implement lower class sizes,” he said.

Kowalkowski also supports delaying the biology test requirement that was keeping nearly 2,000 high schoolers from graduating this year.

“I’m all for high standards, but help kids get over the bar, don’t just push them back down,” he said.

Inslee also signed into law a pilot program to help school districts add 500 classrooms to reduce K-3 class size.

The Washington Education Association opposes the delay of the class size initiative and says smaller K through 12 class sizes are a part of basic education.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."