Edmonds School Board honors parents of Matthew Truax

School Boardmember Diana White xxx

School board director Diana White makes a presentation to Jerry and Melinda Truax, whose son Matthew died of cardiac arrest last fall.

The crowded Edmonds School Board meeting on Tuesday night began with a celebration of Melinda and Jerry Truax for their recent work with the Nick of Time Foundation.

Melinda and Jerry are the parents of Matthew Truax, who passed away suddenly in September from cardiac arrest. Ever since, the couple has been working closely with the Nick of Time Foundation, which raises awareness and works towards the prevention of sudden cardiac arrest in teenagers.

“What Melinda and Jerry demonstrate to us all is that when there is a tragedy, great things can rise from it,” board director Diana White said.

“What helped me be here today and to have the courage to say what I’m saying is my friends and Matthew’s friends and the entire community, my church, my school, the school district, the teachers,” Melinda said. “I couldn’t be more proud of a community. I love Edmonds and my goal is to make it a safer place for my children to go to school and play.”

Additionally, Meadowdale P.E. teachers Jackie Bykonen, Dan Taylor, Greg Wirtz and Mike Don were celebrated for their quick and caring response to Matthew’s collapse in September.

“When the first responders arrived, I had an opportunity to talk to the lead responder and he said that rarely does he come to a scene where everyone on the scene did everything right,” Meadowdale High School Principal Kevin Allen said.

“One of these teachers told me recently that they were just doing their job, but I can assure you that not everyone can do their job during a time of crisis. Because of you guys, Matthew’s last moments were in caring hands.”

White also mentioned the Truax celebration at the end of the meeting, during board member comments.

“I hope this is healing for these people,” she said. “I don’t think tonight will solve everything but it’s a step towards healing.”

The first report of the night, by assistant superintendent Patrick Murphy, appealed to the board to edit the graduation requirements for English Language Learning students so that they can walk if they have not been able to take the high school proficiency exam (HSPE) twice. As it is currently written, students must pass the test but have a chance to take the test again if it is not passed the first time it is taken. However, for some students, the timing of when they entered the school district prevented them from having a second chance to take the test. The exception would affect few students – Murphy said those looking at creating this exception could count the number of students on one hand – and will be voted on at the next school board meeting.

Also on the agenda:

- Art Arneson and Allison Grinczel of the Snohomish County Public Utility District gave a presentation showing that the district has saved over $550,000 and over 3 million kilowatt hours since hiring a Resource Conservation Manager.

- Executive director of business and operations Stewart Mhyre reported that, after analyzing ASB funds in various districts near Edmonds, the Edmonds School District’s ASB fund is just below average in total and among the lowest per student when compared to surrounding districts.

- Superintendent Nick Brossoit gave the board a preliminary plus/minus sheet before the public budget meeting to occur Wednesday at 4 p.m. Although it looked like there would be a lot of changes, Brossoit emphasized that they have not yet made any commitments. “We are very early in this process that ends officially in August, where we will decide what we are going to do,” Brossoit said. “This is just our best thinking on this right now without any input from you or the public, and then we will start getting input and make changes.”

The meeting ended with an outline of the process to replace former board member Susan Phillips, whose letter of resignation was accepted at the last board meeting. There will be a nomination phase ending on April 4, allowing people to nominate individuals that they feel are suited to the position. Nominations serve to push individuals to apply; however, the board emphasized that one does not need to be nominated in order to apply for the position. Following this phase, board member applications will be due on April 17. The public will be notified of an interview date 24 hours before the interview takes place.

Depending on the number of applications they receive, the board hopes to appoint a new board directorr before May. The new director will serve a one-year term, ending in Nov. 2015, when they will have the opportunity to run for a two-year term. Following this appointment, four board members will have terms ending in Nov. 2015.

You can find more information on the district’s website.

In addition, the board took the following actions at Tuesday’s meeting:
• Accepted proposal for a new sound system at Mountlake Terrace High School.
• Approved demolition plans for Melody Hill Elementary School.
• Increased the budget for the installation of portable classrooms at Lynnwood, Hazelwood and Spruce Elementary Schools.
• Authorized call for bids and construction budget for the roof replacement at Oak Heights Elementary School.
• Accepted $680,000 public works contract allowing the installation of energy efficient lights at Former Woodway High, College Place Middle, Beverly Elementary, Martha Lake Elementary and Spruce Elementary schools.
• Accepted an additional $680,000 public works contract allowing the installation of energy-efficient lights at Mountlake Terrace High, Brier Terrace Middle, Brier Elementary and Alderwood Elementary schools.

– Story and photo by Natalie Covate

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