As construction for Sound Transit’s light rail inches toward Lynnwood, the Edmonds School Board authorized a property acquisition agreement Feb. 11 allowing a portion of the light rail system to be built on district property. The board also approved several construction-related contracts that would be funded by a bond measure that is now failing to gain voter approval — but those projects may be put on hold if the measure doesn’t ultimately pass.
At the business meeting, the district’s Board of Directors unanimously voted — with Director Nancy Katims absent — to authorize Sound Transit to construct three pillars in the district’s Maintenance and Transportation Facility, which will feed the light rail track into the future Lynnwood City Center Station. The facility — located at 20601 52nd Ave. W. in Lynnwood — is used for school bus service, storage and dispatch and for school district maintenance operations.
Per the agreement, Sound Transit will be responsible for providing temporary parking while it redevelops the site to accommodate the future pillars. The project is anticipated to be completed in three years, said district Finance Director Lydia Sellie.
In exchange for the space to construct the pillars, Sound Transit will expand the facility’s parking lot by leveling a hill located on the site to include additional parking spaces. Though the future pillars will result in the temporary loss of parking spaces, Sellie said the t facility will ultimately gain more parking when construction is completed.
“We’re giving up the land that the pillars will reside on and they’re constructing the parking facility,” she said.
Additionally, Sellie said Sound Transit will be providing the district with project management costs.
Redevelopment for the temporary parking lot is expected to begin later this month while pillar construction is scheduled to begin this summer, Sellie said.
Prior to the vote, Director Ann McMurray said she was worried about incurred costs for the district in the event of unexpected delays and asked if provisions were put in place to renegotiate the agreement.
According to Sellie, the agreement states that renegotiations would be possible in the event of construction delays.
“This contract has an expectation of about three years,” she said. “If it took four or five years, we would probably have to go back to the table.”
The agreement also holds Sound Transit responsible for any damages that occur as a result of construction, and it restricts construction to the designated pillar locations, Sellie added.
Board Director Gary Noble said that during previous district construction projects, soil pollution has been discovered, and he asked who would be responsible in the event that pollution was discovered on the site.
“Any digging in the district, it seems we’ve found some kind of pollution or some kind of issue,” he said.
In response, Sellie said neither she nor district staff were aware of any contaminants on the site. However, because the district owns the land Sellie said the two parties could go back to the negotiation table to come to a solution.
Also during the meeting, the board chose an architect and made some other decisions related to projects that would be funded under the proposed $600 million construction bond that appeared on the Feb. 11 special election ballot. The bond so far is not receiving the 60% majority vote required for passage.
As of Thursday’s vote count, 56.27% (18,080 votes) were supporting the measure and 43.73% (14051 votes) were opposed. Should the bond fail, all planned projects funded by the bond would be put on hold while the school board decides how to proceed, said Capital Projects Director Ed Peters.
“It’s the board’s call what to do and how we proceed,” he said.
During the Tuesday school board meeting — which occurred before initial election results were released — the board did vote to name Tacoma-based McGranahan Architects as architect for the future Innovative Learning Center and authorize a contract in the amount of $219,820 for the project’s conceptual design phase services. The board also voted to approve a $400,000 budget increase for the center.
The proposed $47 million center would house Scriber Lake High School, which currently shares a campus with Edmonds Heights K-12 School. The center would also house some ancillary programs that have not yet been determined.
The bulk of the project would be covered by the proposed 2020 construction bond.
The board also voted to authorize district staff to award a contract in the amount of $99,776 to Seattle-based BNBuilders for general contractor/construction manager services for a future elementary school. The proposed location for the $66 million project is a 9.5-acre site at 184th Street Southwest and North Road, south of Lynnwood High School.
One concern the district faces should the bond fail is rising construction costs. According to Peters, inflation associated with construction costs is rising at a rate of 6-10% annually. To cut costs, the district has wasted no time in selecting architects and designers months in advance, which Peters said translates into millions of saved dollars.
However, Peters remains optimistic that the bond will pass.
“The odds are that these projects are going to proceed, but the longer they are delayed the more they will cost,” he said.
If the bond fails, the district would be able to present the bond to voters again as early as April, but Peters said it is unlikely the board would do so that early. He said that a likely option would be to put the bond before voters again in November, after the board gathered more community feedback.
During board member comments, Superintendent Kris McDuffy thanked district staff and the community for their work to prepare for the bond vote. McDuffy said the process has been a tireless effort to prepare voters and ensuring they had all of the necessary information before heading to the polls.
“This has been a valiant effort regardless of the outcome,” she said.
In other business, the district celebrated the 26 district students who were selected for the 2020 Washington Music Educators Association All-State Honor Ensembles.
The students who were selected will travel to Yakima to rehearse and perform at the 2020 WMEA State Music Educators Conference over President’s Day weekend. About 1,000 student musicians were chosen across the state, with more than 5,000 auditioning.
To see the full All-State 2020 list, click here.
The board was also scheduled to honor Scott Barnes, the district’s manager of visual and performing arts, who was selected to be inducted in the Washington Music Educators Association Hall of Fame. However, Barnes was unable to attend the meeting due to a family-related matter.
Before the meeting adjourned for the evening, Board President Deborah Kilgore gave a brief update on the district’s search for a new superintendent.
After Superintendent McDuffy announced last August that she would be retiring at the end of the 2019-20 school year, the district hired Ray and Associates to conduct a nationwide search to fill the vacant position.
During the Feb. 11 meeting, Kilgore said the firm has received great interest in the position and is working to narrow the number of candidates before presenting them to the board. According to Kilgore, as many as 12-14 candidates could be interviewed by the board during a closed meeting on Feb. 20.
“We have some really phenomenal and great candidates,” she said.
–By Cody Sexton