Edmonds council OKs job descriptions for day-camp program to support distance learning; backtracks on code of conduct subcommittee

Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Director Angie Feser, center, talks with Edmonds city councilmembers and staff via Zoom about the proposed recreation program known as LEAP.

A proposal to develop a city recreation program that also supports remote learning for school children moved closer to reality Tuesday night as the Edmonds City Council gave the green light to job descriptions for two new recreation leaders that would be hired to oversee the effort.

This council first heard about the proposal for LEAP (Learning Enhancement & Activity Program) during last week’s meeting. Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department Director Angie Feser provided a brief refresher of last week’s information while adding some additional details. The program would repurpose the city-owned Frances Anderson Center to support children entering second through sixth grade, housing in nine separate isolated classrooms or “pods.” It would operate Monday – Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m and would provide day camp activities while supporting Edmonds School District distance learning due to COVID-19.

Feser stressed that the program’s goal is to fill a community need, “to help our families who have to make a decision between going to work and supporting their children’s education. We are not substituting for a school. We are simply creating an environment to support these school-age children and their academic efforts while they are doing distance learning.”

Supplemental programming would come from the city’s environmental education and cultural arts divisions as well as community partners like Sno-King Youth Club. Weekly registration would be $300 or $345 for non-residents, with need-based full scholarships available for a minimum of 20% of the participants. Program capacity is 100 participants.

Feser also addressed a request last week from Councilmember Laura Johnson to explore expanding the number of needs-based scholarships beyond the 20% currently allocated for the program — or 20 students. After some preliminary research into possible alternative funding sources, the city is evaluating whether it can use current day care-eligible CARES funding for Edmonds families. In addition, staff has applied for the Verdant Health Emergency COVID Assistance program requesting funding to support five to 10 weekly full registration waivers through the end of this year. Another idea being considered is a local campaign soliciting donations through the parks department’s existing scholarship program.

Given the shortage of time before school starts, Feser asked the council to approve the two recreation leader job descriptions so the positions could be posted immediately. She promised to come back later with more details about funding for needs-based scholarships.

In addition to hiring the two recreation leaders, the city will need to employ 18 full-time equivalent and four part-time equivalent employees for the program. One quarter to a third of those staff can be current city employees who have been laid off or working significantly reduced hours due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

In another matter Tuesday night, the council backed away from its decision last week to have the city council — rather than the council president — appoint a subcommittee to review a proposed new code of conduct. Councilmember Susan Paine, who had voted last week with Councilmembers Diane Buckshnis, Vivian Olson and Kristiana Johnson to follow that process, announced Tuesday night that she had changed her mind “after a lot of consideration.” The council voted 4-3 — with Paine this time joining Laura Johnson, Adrienne Fraley-Monillas and Luke Distelhorst in the majority to reconsider that vote.

The council will revisit in two weeks how exactly to go about appointing the subcommittee, as that matter wasn’t addressed Tuesday night.

In other business, the council:

– Listened as Council President Fraley-Monillas — filling in for Mayor Mike Nelson while he’s absent due to a family matter — read a proclamation declaring that September is suicide prevention month. That proclamation was followed  by a presentation on suicide statistics and trends by the Snohomish Health District’s Wendy Burchill. Her presentation was the first of three events that the city — led by Councilmember Distelhorst — has created to address the issue of suicide prevention. The next one is Sept. 17, at 7 p.m., when Burchill will present a free, “Question, Persuade, Refer,” suicide prevention training via Zoom. This will also include a question-and-answer session on suicide prevention techniques. Then, on Sept. 23 at 7 p.m., the city will host an online panel discussion about mental health and suicide prevention. You can learn more about those events, and also find more resources on suicide prevention, at the city’s new webpage here.

– Heard the annual report from the Edmonds Tree Board and later in the meeting received an update from city staff about progress planned for rewriting the city’s tree code. Development Services Director Shane Hope said the hope is to have a draft tree code to the council for review by the end of the year. Among the topics and possible concepts that will be explored with the Edmonds Planning Board, starting next week:

  • Tree retention during development — for example, exploring low-impact development principles that may provide more flexibility to retain trees, specific tree retentions standards during development, and providing incentives for tree retention.
  • Establishing a tree fund into which development contributions or tree penalties can be tracked and the proceeds spent on tree planting and preservation.
  • Reviewing penalties for illegal tree cutting.
  • Moving the main tree regulations for private property into the Natural Resources title of the City’s development code.
  • Reviewing the existing permitting structure and exemptions for tree removal on currently developed property

– After holding a public hearing, unanimously gave tentative approval to a proposed comprehensive plan amendment for the Haines Wharf site and adjacent properties that changes the designation from mixed use commercial to open space. The amendment will be approved as part of the entire city comprehensive plan at the end of the year. City staff said the change was necessary to ensure that the Haines Wharf designation was consistent with the recently updated Shoreline Master Program.

– Scheduled a public hearing for Oct. 6 regarding a proposed street vacation in Perrinville area — specifically the easterly portion of 184th Street Southwest between 80th Avenue West and Olympic View Drive. The change is being considered because the property owner is considering a future subdivision, city staff said.

— By Teresa Wippel

 

17 Replies to “Edmonds council OKs job descriptions for day-camp program to support distance learning; backtracks on code of conduct subcommittee”

  1. LEAP sounds good on paper. However, there are 21,687 students (according to ESD website this morning). Also, 35% receive free and reduced lunch.
    This program states 100 student program capacity. The city will hire 2 leaders, 18 FT and 4 PT. Twenty four people to help 0.5% of the student population! I sure hope the council explains, in full detail, why they think a plan that benefits so few is acceptable. Look for ways to reach out and help more. The program will only be at FAC. Will the program provide transportation to families who do not own vehicles? How will the program determine who is accepted? How will the program ensure all families are aware of this program (posting on a website isn’t really an answer, unless it’s posted in the 115 different languages spoken in ESD)? Will the program or Council help to identify families in need, meaning they will truly find families making a decision between their job or the child’s remote learning? What does the program mean by charging more for non-residents? If this program is designed to help ESD families, then it should be open to only ESD families and all should be charged the same. LEAP needs to clarify that one.
    From PreK to HS there are 34 schools in ESD, how will the program make sure all schools are afforded the same opportunity to attend? Will it be equitable, 3 students per school or based on school enrollment? How much will it cost to refurbish FAC? Could LEAP be placed at each elementary school instead of FAC? There are 20 elementary schools.
    Council, please ask the questions, make sure these 100 families are in need, of this program even moves forward. Is this the best use of $$$ where so few benefit.

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    1. “Could LEAP be placed at each elementary school instead of FAC?”

      This one we know, the teachers union as part of the talks that have been going on for months says that school classrooms this year can only be used by their union members. Empty classrooms must remain so in case a teacher decides on a given day to use it.

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  2. How have the sub committees historically been selected in Edmonds? I have concerns if the selection process for the new code of ethics differs from what has been done in the past.

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  3. When the council president wants to make sure she gets her way. She pushes to have her do the appointing. Shame on you council member Paine.

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  4. I believe the issue about the Council code of conduct should be tabled until Council can agree on the problem they are trying to address. Is it Councilmembers’ treatment of one another? Is it how Council treats staff? Maybe it’s about how Council interacts with the public? It seems a disproportionate amount of time has already been expended on this issue when Council has a broad range of other more important issues to address. When Councilmembers are elected, it is with the understanding they should comport themselves professionally and in accordance with the already-existing rules of conduct. It’s not clear yet another set of rules will have much effect until there is consensus on the problem to be addressed, and a true commitment by all Councilmembers to behave properly.

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  5. Re Mike’s questions above, many have been asked and I will share the answers as I have understood them:

    This program is small/what we can do, and targets Edmonds families.

    The 15% differential is the same amount charged to non-residents on all of our Parks and Rec programs.

    Only the ESD has the logistics and the funding to provide a program that can address the needs of all. I hope that happens in short order. It is possible that cities will play a support role in an ESD comprehensive plan as the need for safe distancing may require use of facilities outside of the District-owned buildings. If this happens, the efforts to prepare the FAC for LEAP will continue to benefit our community.

    I did ask about other locations, including the Meadowdale Clubhouse. It was not available. We do not have a City building near HWY 99 to consider at this time (if we did that would have been of interest). There is a similar program being run by the YMCA at Chase Lake Elementary; families in that locale may be looking to that program first.

    The LEAP program will definitely be promoted by the City. It will also be promoted by the ESD.
    https://myedmondsnews.com/2020/09/edmonds-school-district-hosts-forums-to-discuss-child-care-options-for-families/

    Thank you for the reminder of the thoughtfulness that should go into the “how” and “who” of registrations and scholarships. It is yet to be worked out, but need is an important consideration, especially for the free registrations built into the system. It is worth pointing out that the LEAP program– and all daycare programs– are also authorized uses of the need-based CARES ACT grants.

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  6. I am actually wondering at the legality of starting these educational “pods” when there are strict rules and protocols for licensed daycares and private schools as well as strict rules in the state pertaining to homeschooling. I am wondering what the plan is for the FAC, an old building with narrow hallways..now they are going to be accepting 100 school aged children plush their families coming through dropping them off. This is not smart and it’s not logical considering the reason they are even there is because school is closed. Why is the city getting into the daycare business?

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  7. I read somewhere this program which charges $300.00 per week per student with cap at 100 students is “income neutral” — yeah right. That term is called “non-profit” there is no such thing as “income neutral” ! 30k a week, you can do the math here. City is desperate for money and what..they are going to “repurpose” the whole building…what exactly does that mean? Because if I have to encounter not only 100+ extra people in the tiny little building plus construction services, I’m not sending him. I agreed to keep sending him because of limited capacity, not a mini elementary school/unlicensed daycare!! So upset at this.

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  8. That’s another reason I am so upset about this decision. I feel for the students and teachers and parents and everyone who is struggling, including the misguided council. However, if the threat of COVID -19 is so severe they are shutting down schools, then they should not be trying to have additional families coming and going from early morning and into the evening hours in this small facility. Even if they are separate, it is still creating a more inherent risk to the families who are paying for their kids to attend preschool/kindergarten & daycare there. I feel that it is a slap in the face to the resident programs, as I had to find out about this on Facebook, and when contacting the director of the school she didn’t even know about it. I was assured by her that protocols that our school have lived with the past 6 months are kept in place, however if that varies, or if there is an increased presence in the hallway my son’s school is located on, I will not hesitate to withdraw him. This is sad because this small resident business in the FAC is already struggling with reduced numbers.

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  9. this was the response from the parks & rec director Shannon Burley: At this time we do not intend to use our classroom that is in your hallway in an effort to keep the groups separate for the protection of both your kids and the LEAP kids.

    “At This Time”. – well if at any time you plan to, let me know so I can give notice of withdraw from the resident programs! ! !

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  10. At max capacity, the revenue would be 24K, as only 80 of the 100 potential registrations would be paid registrations. There is front end cost, staff cost, material cost,… “Income neutral” and “non-profit” terms can be used interchangeably, the point being that there is no intent for this program to be a moneymaker for the City.

    Using s single, typically unused, wing (per the Shannon Burley quote, above comment), minimizing people entering the FAC by having drop-off and pickup outside of the building, and keeping the 10 person pods to themselves for the week, are among the LEAP safety protocols that impressed me.

    I hear Erika’s point about the schools being closed for safety sake; this is about filling a need.

    Where daycares provide for little ones of essential workers who can’t work from home (and is an essential service themselves for this reason), this is COE attempt to do what the schools typically do for the children of essential workers who are older, but who need general supervision, entertainment, and support for their school work.

    As a Councilmember, I did my best to make sure that there was a need- and that we were addressing it in the best possible way- before voting yes on this initiative, I hope the school district is able to implement a safe in-person school day for all soon, and that LEAP (and similar programs) will be short-lived.

    If anyone has questions or ideas for me (or for your Council as a whole), please call me at 425 361-8176 or email Vivian.olson@edmondswa.gov (or whole council at council@edmondswa.gov). I never doubt that our City policies or programs can be made better with your input and we are here to serve you.

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    1. Thank you council member Olsen. The sincere effort you put into your work shows in the way you communicate. I appreciate your ability to crunch ideas as well as numbers. I also appreciate your independent thinking when it comes time to vote on the issues. You should be the next council president.

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      1. Don, we would have been well served if Council member Olsen were the “existing” council president. Fresh ideas rooted in public input and will reasoned answers.

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