Olympia: Education and Research

Elementary and Secondary Schools

One of the oldest districts in the state of Washington, the Olympia School District was founded in 1852, nearly 40 years before Washington statehood. The district offers five alternative programs for students in elementary, middle, or high school grades. It also offers an Early Childhood Program for children under five years with developmental disabilities and the Program for Academically Talented Students serving students in grades two through five.

Olympia High School, one of the oldest public secondary schools in Washington, was built in 1906. The building was completely renovated in the late 1990s, and rededicated in October 2000. Taxpayers in February 2004 approved additional funds to renovate and update the district's other facilities.

Beginning with the graduating class of 2008, all students enrolled in the Olympia School District must meet new graduation requirements that include 22 credits, completion of the "High School and Beyond" plan, a Certificate of Academic Achievement, and a culminating project.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Olympia school district as of the 2003–2004 school year.

Total enrollment: 9,234

Number of facilities

elementary schools: 11

junior high/middle schools: 4

senior high schools: 2

other: 1

Student/teacher ratio: 16:1

Teacher salaries

minimum: Not available

maximum: Not available

Funding per pupil: $7,213 (2002–2003)

Olympia is home to seven private and religious schools.

Public Schools Information: Olympia School District, 1113 Legion Way SE, Olympia, WA 98501; telephone (360)596-6100; fax (360)596-6111

Colleges and Universities

The Evergreen State College, a public liberal arts and sciences institution founded in 1969, enrolled more than 4,400 students in 2004. The Olympia campus accounted for 93 percent of enrollment, with Grays Harbor, Tacoma, and Tribal Reservations sharing the remainder. Emphasizing interdisciplinary studies rather than traditional majors, Evergreen offers a Bachelor's of Arts and a Bachelor's of Science in Liberal Arts, with the opportunity to concentrate in biology, communications, computer science, energy systems, environmental studies, health and human services, humanities, language, management and business, marine studies, mathematics, Native American studies, performing arts, physical science, politics and economics, pre-law, pre-medicine, and visual arts. Master's degree programs are offered in environmental studies, public administration, and teaching.

South Puget Sound Community College is a two-year, public institution that serves all adults regardless of their previous education. Approximately 6,000 students each semester pursue associates degrees in arts, general studies, technical arts, and nursing. The college also offers non-credit community education classes, adult literacy, and high school completion programs.

U.S. News & World Report ranked Saint Martin's University 44th among the best Western universities for Master's programs in its "America's Best Colleges 2005." St. Martin's, located in nearby Lacey, is a four-year, co-educational college with a strong liberal arts foundation that also encompasses business, education, and engineering. Known as Saint Martin's College until changing its name in August 2005, the school offers 22 undergraduate programs, six graduate programs, and numerous pre-professional and certification programs. St. Martin's, one of 18 U.S. Benedictine Catholic colleges, has more than 1,700 full- and part-time students enrolled at its main campus in Olympia and its extension campuses at the Fort Lewis Army Post, McChord Air Force Base, and Olympic College at Bremerton.

Libraries and Research Centers

The Timberland Regional Library system has 27 community libraries, including the Olympia branch, and four cooperative library centers across the counties of Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, and Thurston. The system encompassed 1.49 million items in 2003, including more than one million books, 152 electronic books, more than 220,000 magazines, 36 online reference databases, and numerous videos, CDs/records/cassettes, audio books, pamphlets, CD-ROMs, and DVDs. The Olympia Timberland Library was founded in 1909 with a collection of 900 books. The McCleary Timberland Library, located in Grays Harbor County, opened in June 2003. That same year the Timber-land Regional Library system became the state's first public library system to join with the Library of Congress as a partner in the national Veterans History Project.

Other local libraries include the college libraries at the Evergreen State College, whose special collections include a Rare Books room and the Chicano/Latino Archive, South Puget Sound Community College, Providence St. Peter Hospital, and the Washington State Capital Museum.

The Washington State Library has more than half a million volumes and periodicals, with special collections on Washington newspapers, Washington authors, and Washington state documents. It is a U.S. government and Washington State depository library.

State of Washington governmental libraries include those of the Attorney General's Office, the Department of Information Services, the Department of Natural Resources, the Office of the Secretary of State, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, and the Washington State Law Library.

Local research institutes include the Cascadia Research Collective, the Evergreen Freedom Foundation, The Evergreen State College Labor Education and Research Center, the Washington State Institute for Public Policy, and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Fish Program.

Public Library Information: Olympia Timberland Library, 313 8th Ave. SE, Olympia, WA 98501; telephone (360)352-0595. Washington State Library, PO Box 42460, Olympia, WA; telephone (360)753-5590