Madrona K-8 to delay opening new building due to disagreement with water district

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    Madrona School under construction in early June, courtesy Edmonds School District website.

    This is a developing story that will be updated with additional details Wednesday.

    Due to a disagreement between the Edmonds School District and the Olympic View Water & Sewer District regarding a stormwater system, students at the Edmonds-based Madrona K-8 school won’t be able to move into their new $49.25 million building at the start of the 2018-2019 school year as previously anticipated.

    The Edmonds School Board and Superintendent Kris McDuffy sent a letter to Madrona families on Tuesday letting them know that their students will be moved to the former Alderwood Middle School property in Lynnwood for at least the start of the new school year, until an agreement can be reached with the Olympic View Water & Sewer District.

    “We hope to resolve the water agreement with Olympic View Water & Sewer District quickly, but in the interim, we need to move forward with how to best provide a space for Madrona K-8 students, staff and families,” the letter states.

    According to the Olympic View Water & Sewer District board meeting minutes from April 2, the water district has concerns about proposed underground injection control (UIC) wells on the Madrona property for stormwater detention. Because of these concerns, both parties agreed to a study by a third-party hydrogeologist.

    “When concerns were raised by the Olympic View Water & Sewer District, we worked quickly to internally investigate any potential issues, and also funded an independent third-party blind study of our Madrona stormwater well system,” the letter from the Edmonds School District states. The report, by Pacific Groundwater Group, can be read at this link.

    The letter from the school district states the study shows the Madrona project’s stormwater plan exceeds environmental standards. Minutes from the Olympic View Water & Sewer District Commissioners meeting show that water district officials have  concerns about the scope of the study.

    According to the letter to Madrona families, the former Alderwood Middle School site is similar in size to Madrona K-8, which draws students from all over the Edmonds School District, and can adequately house the school’s 600 students. Some improvements will need to be made to accommodate the school’s Deaf & Hard of Hearing program and to create functional spaces for Madrona’s multi-age structure.

    The full letter to Madrona families issued Tuesday is below:

    Dear Madrona Families and Staff,

    We are proud of our new state-of-the-art Madrona K-8 project that is nearing construction completion. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, Edmonds School District has been unable to reach an agreement with Olympic View Water & Sewer District to provide the water needed to move into the new building on schedule. We hope to resolve the water agreement with Olympic View Water & Sewer District quickly, but in the interim, we need to move forward with how to best provide a space for Madrona K-8 students, staff and families.

    Due to the absence of a water agreement, the school board has made the decision to temporarily move Madrona K-8 to the former Alderwood Middle School property for the start of the 2018-2019 school year. We realize this situation is far from ideal but of the choices available to us at this point, temporarily moving to the former Alderwood Middle School is the solution that is best for our students and their learning environment, and is the most fiscally responsible.

    The former Alderwood Middle School property is similar in size to Madrona K-8, providing a campus large enough to accommodate our more than 600 students. It has extensive outdoor space – including playground equipment – to provide much-needed recess and recreational space. The former Alderwood Middle School building was constructed as a junior high school in 1966 but went through major modernization in 1988, and additional modernization in 2001. Madrona Principal Kathleen Hodges, the contractor representative, and DHH (Deaf and Hard of Hearing) staff have toured the former Alderwood property with the district’s Capital Projects team to identify modifications that will need to be completed to transform traditional classrooms into spaces that will work for Madrona’s multi-age structure, and meet the DHH program’s specialized accessibility standards.

    We are working to quickly address moving details and finalize a transportation plan so that Madrona families face as little inconvenience as possible during this transitional period.

    We recognize the importance of respecting our environment and incorporating nature into education; these ideals drove the design for the entire Madrona project above and below the ground. Our new Madrona school and its associated stormwater plan exceed the highest professional and environmental standards. When concerns were raised by the Olympic View Water & Sewer District, we worked quickly to internally investigate any potential issues, and also funded an independent third-party blind study of our Madrona stormwater well system. That report, by Pacific Groundwater Group, can be read in its entirety here: Stormwater Management System Assessment Report.

    We understand many of you will be frustrated by this news and have questions as to how and why this happened. We are also frustrated, but are determined to continue this project with the same honor and integrity we began, and are providing you with detailed information as to our design and permitting processes, and our attempts to work with Olympic View Water & Sewer District to try to understand their concerns. A detailed statement that explains Edmonds School District procedure throughout the design, permitting, and construction process can be found here: Edmonds S.D. Madrona Stormwater Well System Process.

    Sincerely,
    Edmonds School Board & Superintendent Kris McDuffy

    –By Natalie Covate

    10 Replies to “Madrona K-8 to delay opening new building due to disagreement with water district”

    1. The OVWS has had several executive sessions and I’m sure has discussed this at length. Unfortunately little of their discussion is in their minutes leaving Madrona families in the dark over the specifics of their concerns. No one wants the harm the environment, transparency and proactive communication from the elected board of commissioners wpuld have been the more prudent course of action. This is incredibly disruptive and disappointing to the 600+ kids, their families and staff at Madrona. There are no winners in this and if it can’t be resolved and moves to litigation the residents who pay taxes to cover it will be the losers in all this.

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    2. Thank you My Edmonds News! We’re counting on you to get us the info we can’t access! So pleased to see you’re all over this! Will be staying tuned and appreciate any info!

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    3. “Concerns” tells us nothing. What are the OVWS concerns? What evidence is there to justify these concerns? What are the alternatives? What is being done by OVWS to resolve these issues on a priority basis. These are not questions for Executive Session-they belong in the Public Forum. Go get ’em Teresa.

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    4. These types of wells are used by the school district in other parts of the area. They must have had a careful analysis by other water districts and been ok.

      This water district has 3 commissioners but no way to contact them via the web site. Sounds pretty strange. One idea would be for this small water district to use the analysis of the city of Edmonds water district for insight on these methods.

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    5. In response to your comment regarding the Olympic View Water District web site, you may find the contact information for each commissioner under the “About Us”, scroll down to Commissioners, and you will find a photo and email address for each Commissioner.
      Thank you,
      John Elsasser

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    6. Kids need clean water as well as a school. It it beyond imagining that the Water and Sewer District, charged with the safety and function of those systems would harass the school district as if it were some kind of game. The school district is known for cherry picked “internal investigations” and ad game tactics. It would do better to develop a policy of complete transparency, erring on the side of caution with regard to safety and the environment and save the taxpayers some money instead of spending it on delays and lawsuits.

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    7. So the Wa. State Dept of Ecology, City of Edmonds AND an independent blind study were done and everyone says the stomwater plan meets or exceeds standards. So WHAT IS OWVS’s problem? What are there “concerns” when two governing bodies AND a study say everything is okay? What kind of stupid game is someone playing?

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    8. What I want to know is why weren’t these concerns addressed before the school was even built? Now, the students and faculty, have to wait who knows how long, to move into their brand new school. As someone who lives down the hill from Madrona, of course, I want them as well as their neighbors to have safe drinking water. I hope this gets resolved soon.

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    9. It appears that several of the commenters here believe this is a drinking water problem. It is a storm water (runoff from impervious surfaces like roofing and asphalt and how it gets handled) issue. Apparently it is based on disagreement from OVWSD that the well system currently designed to make runoff infiltrate into surrounding soil will handle this discharge appropriately.

      So, unless someone has a drinking water well very close to this school, and my guess is that there is nobody, drinking water is pretty much out of the discussion here. OVWSD does, however, have the leverage of keeping drinking water shut off until it gets what it wants to address the storm water concerns. The perplexing part of the equation remains what OVWSD believes IS the concern beyond the scope and direction of the independent blind study that the ESD completed to prove the injection system was an appropriate solution.

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