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King County Weighs How To Spend About $315 Million On Education

Elaine Thompson
AP Photo

Three counties in the Puget Sound region are going to receive a substantial amount of money to spend on education because of an amendment in a state transportation law.

The King County Council is figuring out its priorities for its share of the money, which will total about $315 million spread out over a number of years.

The funds come from a fee applied to Sound Transit construction projects. The state legislation directs the money to be spent on educational services for vulnerable kids, including youth living in poverty or who are homeless.

King County Councilmember Claudia Balducci says the county is working on setting its priorities and will consult with educational experts, cities and the state.

"We are not educational experts here at King County. We don't actually fund education all that much. We don't want to reinvent the wheel, so we want to work those folks to figure out where and how to put these resources so that they do the most good," Balducci said.

The county won't receive much money until 2019, Balducci said. One possible idea is to use some of the funds to help build more space for early learning programs.

The other counties included are Pierce and Snohomish counties. All of the money is expected to total more than half a billion dollars spread out through 2035.

In July 2017, Ashley Gross became KNKX's youth and education reporter after years of covering the business and labor beat. She joined the station in May 2012 and previously worked five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.