Reps fight for UW Federal Way funding

By Tamara Young - Staff Reporter

Two local state legislators are pushing for funding to create a higher education program in the city of Federal Way. 

The City of Federal way, along with the University of Washington-Tacoma and Highline, are working together to create a campus for students to attend classes in the Federal Way area.

"I introduced the budget proposal in the House of Representatives and will be working hard for its passage since it will allow students who live in Federal Way to have easier access to educational opportunities," said State Rep. Mike Pellicciotti, D-Federal Way. 

"I will be working hard to convince my colleagues to support this initiative in this year's legislative budget," Rep. Pellicciotti said. 

State Rep. Kristine Reeves, D-Federal Way, is working to secure the money too, he said. 

Rep. Pellicciotti and other legislators are now in Olympia, amid a 60-day session scheduled to end on March 8.  Legislators will eventually hammer out a supplemental budget, making small adjustments to last year's $43 billion biennial budget.  So the $800,000 they are seeking is by no means certain.

A college campus in Federal Way will help people complete a higher education degree close to home, supporters say.

"We are working to attract health care jobs, companies with good paying jobs and tech jobs all of which need higher education to do," said Yarden Weidenfeld, senior policy adviser for the City of Federal Way Mayor's Office"College graduation rates are lower in Federal Way compared to most outlying areas, such as Auburn," Weidenfeld said. 

Transportation is a problem that prevents some people from completing higher education programs, he said.

City officials say that the size of Federal Way also speaks as to why the city needs a college located within city limits.

"Federal Way is the fifth largest city in King County and the ninth largest city in the state," he said. 

Federal Way Mayor Jim Ferrell said "The city has over 100,000 people living in it, and it has a close proximity to the I-5 corridor."

"We are working on making Federal Way the South King County hub for medical and technical jobs," he said. 

Higher education will help the people living in the Federal Way area to obtain better jobs with better pay, Ferrell said.

MGT of America Consulting did a higher education needs assessment for the Federal Way area.

"Over the next 25 years, the population of King County (Seattle) is projected to grow by 25 percent," according to the study.

The study said Federal Way is projected to grow 17 percent in the same period which would increase the need for local higher education classes. Nearly two-thirds of those who live in the city and who are older than 25 years have earned a high school diploma, but no baccalaureate degree.

Federal Way has the smallest percentage of students who attend college or graduate school as compared to the surrounding cities in South King County, the study said.

"Three longstanding public community colleges serve the region and surrounding Federal Way, but none are located within the city," the study said.

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