Building for future: Edmonds School Board approves facilities contracts, budget

Edmonds School DistrictBuilding was a common theme at the Edmonds School District Board of Directors meeting Tuesday night.

In addition to authorizing district staff to award and execute contracts related to the construction or renovation of district properties – to be funded by last February’s voter-approved $275 million school bond measure – the board discussed ways to effectively build community engagement for the district’s Strategic Direction plan.

District Superintendent Nick Brossoit thanked board members for their willingness to participate in advisory subcommittees on the Strategic Direction, calling the plan “the core mission of our school system.”

Debby Carter, the district’s executive director of human resources, outlined an engagement plan that included the appointment of five subcommittees — one for each of the Strategic Direction’s four elements, plus an additional subcommittee on facilities. The four plan elements are effective learning for all students, equity of opportunity, P-3rd grade early learning and graduates who are ready for life. You can learn more about each element here.

Ideally, each subcommittee will have about 20 members representing a cross-section of the educational community, including a school board member plus district administrative and school staff, parents, community members and students, Carter said. The subcommittees will meet throughout the 2014-15 school year, and a full report on their work will be provided in June 2015, she added.

The board also heard the following reports from staff:

-Lara Drew, executive director for student learning, reported that in preparation for the new school year, approximately 700 district teachers will participate in professional development activities next week.

-CJ Gray, principal of Cedar Valley Elementary, provided a recap of the district’s six-week summer math program that started July 7 and ends this week. The program, aimed at district students who need extra help in math, was held at Cedar Valley, Alderwood Middle, and Meadowdale and Edmonds-Woodway high schools. The district reached out to students based on teacher recommendations and also targeted those students who did not pass the Measurements of Student Progress or End of Course exams for math, said Gray, who oversaw the program. Attendance averaged about 300 students per day, who worked on online math programs such as MobyMax, Khan Academy and Extramath.org, along with flashcards and math games.

Gray complimented the work of summer math program organizer Bill Henning, who “was amazing at finding volunteers,” including 147 high school students, she said. Henning initiated the summer math program as a parent volunteer in 2011. “My hat’s off to you, Bill, I really mean that, “ School Board member Corey DeMun told Henning, who was in the audience during Gray’s presentation. DeMun noted that when he recently stopped off a local coffee shop, he saw Henning tutoring math students there.

move 60- Jenni McCloughan and Jennie Hershey, who coordinate the District’s Move 60! program, reported on the success of the three- year activity and exercise initiative funded by a Verdant Health Commission grant. Verdant renewed funding for the program – which provides an hour of exercise four days a week at each of the district’s 22 elementary schools – for another three –year cycle. (The program will extend to 23 elementaries this year with the inclusion of Edmonds Heights K-12.) McCloughan and Hershey told board members that during the next three years they plan on also engaging students’ families in activities by holding family walks and opening up school gyms in the evenings. “We feel so fortunate to have Verdant behind us,” McCloughan said.

–  Patrick Murphy, assistant superintendent for secondary schools, updated the board on the district’s efforts to implement the requirement – passed by the Washington State Legislature last spring – that all high school students graduate with 24 credits, up from the previous 20-credit requirement. Aimed at helping students prepare for continued education beyond high school, the new requirement – which goes into effect in 2019 – includes two foreign-language credits, two arts credits, and three in science. (Previous requirements included no foreign language credits, one arts credit, and two science credits.)

Murphy said that administrators are taking a close look at what types of credits students are currently earning. He noted that students already earn extra credits in math and foreign language by completing them in middle school, and it’s possible that science credits could also be earned that way. Online learning is another option for fulfilling the increased requirements, he said.

– Stewart Mhyre, executive director of business and operations, told the board that the district’s capital project office in July received approval from the state Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) to use the General Contractor/Construction Manager procedure for its capital projects. According to Mhyre, OSPI’s blanket approval of the procedure – which lasts for three years – allows the district to involve the contractor during the design portion of its projects, which results in more efficient planning and potential cost savings.

Mhyre also provided an update on plans to install three portable buildings at Edmonds-Woodway High School, which needs the additional space for classroom configurations that can’t be accommodated in the current building. (After the meeting, Mhyre explained that the high school was built with several open flex areas, which were suitable for the high school’s former system of “block” classes. Now that Edmonds-Woodway has moved to a more traditional class schedule system, the high school needs more classroom space, which can’t be accommodated inside the current building.

Mhyre also made a brief presentation on the the district’s 2014-15 budget, which the board adopted later in the meeting. The total budget approved was:

General fund: $226,826,732

Transportation vehicle fund: $1,100,000

Capital projects fund: $53,882,117

Debt service fund: $36,600,303

Associated student body program fund: $2,978,782

– Board president Diana White briefly commented on the board’s review of Superintendent Brossoit’s 2013-14 performance. noting that Brossoit met his goals. “Thank you very much for your good work,” White said.

During the public comment period, the board heard from Jessica Adams of the Playful Learning Cooperative Preschool (formerly Mountlake Terrace Co-op Preschool), which relocated a year ago from the now-razed Melody Hills Elementary School site to the former Woodway Elementary School in the Firdale Village area.  Adams said the preschool recently learned that the district plans to take back the former Woodway Elementary site to temporarily house Lynndale Elementary students while Lynndale is being remodeled, beginning in the 2016-17 school year. She asked for the district’s assurance that the preschool can stay at Woodway at least through the end of the 2015-16 school year.

This issue was discussed further during the new business portion of the board meeting, when Brossoit and Board members asked Mhyre to confirm with the preschool leaders that they indeed had until the end of 2015-16 before they had to move. The preschool, along with other entities now renting space at the Woodway Elementary building at 9521 240th St. S.W. near Firdale Village, is on a year-to-year lease and was informed at the time the lease was signed that it was possible the district would need the building back, Mhyre added.

Under the new business section of the meeting, the board approved contracts for work to begin on predesign for the new Alderwood Middle School, with Skanska USA awarded the contract for that project. It was also noted that work is likely to begin next spring on the ditrict’s new Lynnwood-based maintenance, transportation and warehouse replacement project, now that Sound Transit has announced that it had chosen Bellevue and not Lynnwood for its light-rail yard.

In addition, work was approved for pedestrian and traffic safety improvements at Hilltop, Martha Lake and Spruce Elementary, and an “emergency declaration” was issued to expedite the removal of asbestos discovered during renovation work at Mountlake Terrace and Spruce elementaries.

The planned remodel of Lynndale Elementary generated a conversation about how that construction might affect the operation of the Lynndale baseball fields, home to Pacific Little League. Mhyre noted that a meeting was planned soon with Pacific Little League President Doug Sheldon to discuss how to best mitigate any impacts, adding “there is no way to redo that building without affecting the ball fields.”

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