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Hazard Mitigation Plan Released
Tools will help districts plan for possible natural disasters

OLYMPIA — April 30, 2014 — Washington state’s location and geographic diversity come with a price: natural disasters. The state is vulnerable to nine different disasters. But thanks to a federal grant, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction has identified the risks and created resources that give school districts a better sense of how disasters might affect them and how they can protect themselves.

Released today, the first draft of the Washington State K-12 Facilities Hazard Mitigation Plan outlines the hazards. It focuses on the six that pose the greatest threats to the state’s school buildings:

  1. Earthquakes,
  2. Tsunamis,
  3. Floods,
  4. Wildfires,
  5. Volcanic events and
  6. Landslides.

In addition, the plan identifies which schools are vulnerable to each disaster. While not all of the buildings in the state are vulnerable, many of those can be at a high risk for damage.

“As recent events in our state underscore, natural disasters can and do occur – and they can have terrible consequences,” said Randy Dorn, superintendent of public instruction. “This plan is very important for our schools and districts. But we don’t want to overstate the issue. We want districts to plan and prepare, but we don’t want them to panic.”

The plan is part of a grant received by OSPI in 2012 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The grant is the first in the nation to specifically address natural disaster risks. It has three fundamental components:

  1. The hazard mitigation plan. As the foundational piece to the grant, the plan identifies hazards and risks for school districts, and it provides the basis for developing specific plans.
  2. District-level support. OSPI has developed a toolkit and templates that districts can use when developing their own plans. In addition, OSPI has created a pilot program to help 28 districts create plans. The program will include workshops and technical support.
  3. FEMA grants. Federal grants exist that will help fund specific district-level projects, such as retrofitting buildings to withstand natural disasters. OSPI will help raise awareness of the grants and provide as much support as it can in the grant applications.

It is not possible to eliminate the risk to schools from future natural disasters. But it is possible to substantially reduce the impacts of future disasters. Having a clear understanding of risks posed by natural hazards will help OSPI and districts effectively lessen the risk posed by natural hazards to school building.

OSPI will be accepting comments on the Washington State K-12 Facilities Hazard Mitigation Plan until July 25, 2014. The plan is expected to be released in its final form in late Fall 2014.


About OSPI
The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) is the primary agency charged with overseeing K–12 education in Washington state. Led by State School Superintendent Randy Dorn, OSPI works with the state’s 295 school districts and nine educational service districts to administer basic education programs and implement education reform on behalf of more than one million public school students.

OSPI provides equal access to all programs and services without discrimination based on sex, race, creed, religion, color, national origin, age, honorably discharged veteran or military status, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical disability, or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal by a person with a disability. Questions and complaints of alleged discrimination should be directed to the Equity and Civil Rights Director at (360) 725-6162 or P.O. Box 47200, Olympia, WA 98504-7200.

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Nathan Olson
OSPI Communications Manager
(360) 725-6015

The OSPI Communications Office serves as the central point of contact for local, regional and national media covering K-12 education issues.

Communications Manager
Nathan Olson
(360) 725-6015


   Updated 4/30/2014

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