Edmonds School Board seeks voter approval for $600 million bond to build, replace schools

The Lynwood High School FIRST Robotics Competition team.

Edmonds School District officials are seeking voter approval for a $600 million construction bond to build two new schools, replace three others and cover the cost of other district-wide building improvements.

At its Sept. 24 business meeting, the Edmonds School District Board of Directors held a first reading for a proposed resolution to be included on the February ballot.

If approved, the bond would allow for a new middle school on the former Alderwood Middle School campus, a new elementary school near Lynnwood High School and the replacement of one middle and two elementary schools.

The bond would also cover the cost to complete the second phase of Spruce Elementary School’s renovations, as well as the construction of an Innovative Learning Center, which would serve as the new location for Scriber Lake High School and possibly other alternative learning programs.

The schools to be replaced are College Place Middle School and Oak Heights and Beverly elementary schools. District spokesperson Harmony Weinberg said that due to the buildings’ age, it would be more cost efficient to build new schools than continue to make repairs.

“With the cost to replace them versus fixing them being comparable, we would rather provide a new facility,” she said

Currently, the district’s elementary schools are at 107% of capacity. Weinberg said the new school buildings would help reduce overcrowding in classrooms, as well as accommodate future growth.

The district is also proposing a resolution to include a $96 million technology and capital levy, which would allow the district to continue to provide students with Chromebooks, improve classroom display and audio system, and provide students with home internet access. Safety and security upgrades would also be included in the proposed levy.

School Board Vice President Deborah Kilgore emphasized that the levy tax rate for voters would remain the same. Combined, the bond and levy would maintain a tax rate of $3.76 per $1,000 of assessed home value.

“That was a big priority for the board,” she said.

Board Director Gary Noble praised the bond advisory committee and the community involvement that went into the proposed measure.

“I’m very pleased with the process it (the bond) went through to come to this,” he said. “I think we got a very good proposal out of that.”

The board of directors is scheduled to approve the proposed bond at its Oct. 8 business meeting. To learn more about the proposed bond and levy, visit the district’s website.

In other business, the board received a presentation from the Lynnwood High School FIRST Robotics Competition team. 

Through the program, students learn skills in engineering, manufacturing, finance, teamwork and leadership. While competing against other robotics teams, students also learn real-world skills that provide advantages after high school, said team mentor Brain Blomquist.

During the presentation, students explained how they converted the Alderwood Middle School boys’ locker room into a workspace and practice field for their robots. They also shared what they learned about professionalism and cooperation while competing, as well as safety. According to the presentation, the team receives less than $1,000 in district support, with most of its funding coming from grants from Boeing and the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). The team also receives funding from Microsoft.

Lynnwood High School sophomore Meredith Camacho said that after students on the robotics team visited her school in fifth grade, she decided to join when she went to high school. Camacho said she appreciates the learning experiences and team camaraderie.

“Everyone is very kind and supportive,” she said. “And all of the mentors have shown me that it’s okay to make mistakes, because later on we will always learn from them.”

The district has two FIRST Robotics Competition teams — which are high school-level teams — at Mountlake Terrace and Lynnwood high schools. Additionally, Edmonds Heights K-12 School has three FIRST teams — LEGO League Jr. for grades K-4, LEGO League for grades 5-8 and Tech Challenge for grades 7-12.

The Lynnwood High School FIRST robotics team, which is smaller than the Mountlake Terrace High School team, also includes students from Edmonds-Woodway High School. District Technology Director Cynthia Nelson said the team has plans to recruit students from Meadowdale High School as well.

The team’s kick-off competition for the 2019-20 school year is scheduled for Jan. 4 at Mountlake Terrace High School.

–Story and photo by Cody Sexton

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