By Florine Gingerich
At its meeting on Feb. 1, the Edmonds School Board recognized the Cedar Way School Playground Committee: Molly Luna, Mia Fisher, Joy Muller, Julianne Davidson, Laura Longacre, Charlotte Nagai, Kim Kirk, Teresa Hankins, Laura Baker, Lisa Parsons and Taira Rink. Through their efforts, and those of the entire community, Cedar Way placed among the top ten vote-getters of the Pepsi Refresh Challenge, and thereby secured $50,000.00 to help build a new playground and improve the outdoor learning environment. Thousands of communities around the country compete to get the most votes for their worthwhile projects during this competition, and the Board recognized the organization, commitment and energy that led to Cedar Way’s success.
The board also welcomed its new student advisors: Laura Blythe, Edmonds Heights; Bushra Raza, Mountlake Terrace High School; Ali Al-Sadi, Edmonds Heights; and Zach Linville, Scriber Lake High School.
Reports to the Board comprised most of the meeting. Debby Carter, Executive Director for Human Resources and Laura Barnes-Johnson, Citizen Planning Committee Chair, presented the CPC’s mid-year report to the Board, including a discussion of overcrowding at Alderwood Middle School. Once it completes its process, the committee is likely to recommend, rather than a boundary adjustment, that Spruce Elementary feed into Meadowdale Middle School, which is underutilized, instead of Alderwood Middle School. Discussions with Spruce parents and staff are ongoing. The CPC is also considering issues revolving around the upcoming levy, including prioritizing use of funds.
Mark Madison, director of Career and Technical Education, introduced students involved in the student store organizations at the four District high schools. A group from each school gave a Power Point presentation and discussed the benefits and challenges of running a retail operation with and for the students. All stores are running a profit, which contributes to the DECA registrations and costs throughout the year. The students focus on learning many aspects of business management, including customer service, accounting and inventory control. All the student presenters felt that the experience was very positive.
Tony Byrd, assistant superintendent, updated the Board on several aspects of student learning. He discussed new literacy materials being used at the elementary level. These are being very well-received by the principals and teachers, so much so that 93 percent of those polled wanted to move forward to the next phase of the program in spite of a lack of adequate funding to train teachers in use of the material. Training will occur in part through multi-tiered instruction (MTI), where teachers and principals will work together to develop facility with the new materials.
Byrd also discussed steps being taken to improve math skills, including developing “road maps” for algebra and geometry, finalizing the 6th grade assessments to enable a further analysis of the nature of the issues, and following up directly with schools that are underperforming.
He further reported, at the request of the Board, on the definition and use of Title I funding from the Federal Government as differentiated from the Stimulus funds which will no longer be available next year. Title I funding is based on free/reduced lunch populations within the schools and is being carefully monitored by the District.
Under new business, the Board approved a public works contract for earthquake safety improvements at Hazelwood and Westgate elementary schools, and then called for public comment. John Schmeid invited the Board to attend a preview of the learning center developed in connection with the Brightwater Plant in Woodinville. A Terrace Park Elementary parent asked that the district consider a play shed at the school.
The discussion period focused on the EAACH program and ways to keep the parents involved and interested. EAACH is a District outreach program to help parents with limited English skills understand and advocate for their children.
My Edmonds New school board contributor Florine Gingerich has a son who attended Edmonds public schools, where she volunteered in roles ranging from pouring juice in kindergarten at Madrona K-8 to serving as president of the Edmonds-Woodway Music Boosters. With her husband, Doug Purcell, she practices law at Purcell & Adams, PLLC, a South County firm emphasizing business law, real estate and estate planning. Visit them at purcelladams.com, or contact her at email@example.com.