School board votes to place replacement school programs and operations levy on February ballot

The Edmonds School District Board at its meeting Tuesday night gave its final approval, by a 4-0 vote, to put a replacement school programs and operations levy on the February ballot.

The district last passed a maintenance and operations levy in 2010. These levies make up to 20 percent of daily funding for a school district’s daily operating costs. The levy only requires a simple majority to pass and 97.6 percent of M&O levies in the state of Washington have passed in 2013 and 96.5 percent passed in 2012.

Board members Kory DeMun, Susan Phillips, Diana White and Ann McMurray voted in favor. Board member Gary Noble was absent.

The Board also heard a presentation from Jon Gores, senior vice president from financial company D.A. Davidson, which is advising the district on its potential school bond and the M&O levy process.

The voter climate for school bonds is usually much better in the Puget Sound area than the rest of the state of Washington, he said. February would be the best bet to pass a bond, based on past history.

In 2011, of the 33 bond authorizations on the ballot in the state only five passed and 28 failed. In 2012, 12 passed and six failed, while so far through April 2013, 12 have passed and 14 failed.

“It’s still an excellent time for districts to be looking at long-term financing,” Gores said.

The new $230-million to $245-million tax bond for capital projects being proposed would include replacements for three aging schools, capacity for full-day kindergarten, and a class-size reduction for primary grades.

School officials are expected to make a recommendation to the Edmonds School Board for the Oct. 8 meeting on whether they should pursue the school bond . A vote by the Board on whether to put the bond on the ballot is expected by the end of November.

The additional taxes for the bond on a house valued at $300,000 would be $100 a year roughly, if the bond is set at $230 million, according to district estimates.

The bond would replace Lynndale Elementary ($30 million), Alderwood Middle School ($55 million) and Madrona K-8 ($50 million), enable the addition of classrooms for full-day kindergarten and reduce class sizes in primary grades.

“The ceilings are low and the roof leaks,” said William Khadivi of a Mountlake Terrace High, who recently visited Alderwood Middle School as a student advisor to the school board.

“From what I saw, soon, not tomorrow, but in a couple years, they would want to take it down,” said Lynnwood High student Gladys Mwangi, who also went to Alderwood and is a board advisor.

This Thursday, Sept. 26, the district will hold three one-hour information sessions where officials will be present to gather input from community members. The sessions start at 3:30 p.m., 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. and will be held in the board rooms at the district offices, 20420 68th Ave. W. in Lynnwood.

For more information call 425-431-7044, or schoolelection@edmonds.wednet.edu.

In other School Board news, the Board:

- voted to authorize a sale of part of the Lynnwood City Center property across from the Lynnwood Convention Center to Canddle Development. The Executive Session prior to the meeting was held to discuss details of the deal, Superintendent Nick Brossoit said.

- approved an agreement with Service Employees’ International Union Local 925 Food Services Employees. The five-year collective bargaining agreement covers all food service workers throughout the district.

- approved public works contracts to install fire alarm upgrades at Meadowdale High School and confidence test fire alarm systems district-wide.

Five student advisors to the Board also took their oath of office at the meeting as the school year gets underway. In addition to Khadivi and Mwangi, they are Jack Peace (Mountlake Terrace H.S.), Aliya Al-Sadi (Edmonds Heights K-12) and Mayra Peña (Scriber Lake High).

 – By Tony Dondero

 

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