Despite the fact that the district's science program doesn't meet the upcoming 2020 Washington State High School graduation criteria, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction rejected a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) grant application that would have provided a huge boost to the lagging program.

Thursday, Walla Walla School officials said they received word from Dr. Andy Shouse of Washington STEM. He said:

"We received a large number of high quality proposals that demonstrated both incredible need and innovative facility plans linked to powerful learning opportunities for students. After careful consideration, we regret to inform you that your proposal was not selected for this award."

The grant was rejected despite Walla Walla officials indicating that their science classrooms, K-12, are overcrowded, have inadequate ventilation, no air conditioning, and lack the equipment and curriculum required to meet new graduation standards. The grant would have also made possible new STEM opportunities district wide, with programs aimed at providing education for today's growing and future technologies.

The Washington State Legislature budgeted nearly $12 million dollars in grants for schools who demonstrated they lacked the space for science classes and labs that would enable the students to meet new graduation requirements that will go into effect for the 2019-2020 school year. They include three science classes in high school, and at least two lab classes.

Educators are now turning to other ideas and proposals to try to get the necessary funds to upgrade the district's science program. Had they been given this grant, they then could have also applied for additional matching funds.

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