School board hears from Scriber Lake High School advocates

Advocates and alumni of Scriber Lake High School came to the June 25 Edmonds School Board meeting to support the school in response to impending budget cuts they felt would endanger the Edmonds-based alternative high school. Alumni who had achieved success in their lives credited their careers and personal accomplishments to the school’s caring staff and personal attention to students with learning and social challenges.

Elizabeth Clark said Scriber Lake went above and beyond to help the students.

“Scriber Lake is very much, and was, everything [to me],” said 2010 alumnus Elizabeth Clark, who feared that the school would “fade away.”

The former Scriber student added that “teachers and staff helped me onto the journey of healing after my mom passed away. They gave us their time. They gave us their hope, even when we had given up hope on ourselves.”

Lynnwood High School’s Roberto Garcia, accompanied by Vice Principal Justine Locke, asked members of the public with grant-writing experience to volunteer their abilities for the school and, as a result, the community.

School board members also heard budget cut concerns relating to the loss of psychologists and student intervention coordinators. One student intervention coordinator, Roberto Garcia, took to the podium to urge community members to come together for support during the district’s budget reductions.

Board members addressed commenters’ fears by assuring them that Scriber Lake High School would not be fading away, despite cuts. Board President Nancy Katims said she wished they were voicing these concerns to the state legislators who needed to hear them. She stated that in response to last year’s budget cuts, the board and concerned residents formed an advocacy group and she urged members of the audience to email her to receive information on joining the group.

Board President Nancy Katims thanked staff for their work in making sure cuts were transparent and communicated to the public well in advance.

Katims’ sentiment was echoed by fellow board members, who also said they hated having to make program and staffing cuts in response to the district’s $10.6 million shortfall. Retiring Board Member Deborah Kilgore reminded listeners that school board members are not compensated – and that like the speakers they wanted to support the local school system. Kilgore called financing of the state’s public schools “rigged,” referring to state mandates that required more work and educational goal setting without providing additional funding. She said that cuts to education spending also ended up more heavily impacting the most vulnerable community members.

Board Member Deborah Kilgore urged the public to get involved with the advocacy group because although it would not help at the moment, it could in the future.

The community has been making a concentrated effort to support local students. Tuesday’s meeting included the acceptance of several district grants to support drama, fine arts and music programs. An agreement with Foundry10 will fund three Family Resource Advocate positions and 2.4 full-time equivalent (FTE) teaching staff for drama and visual arts elective courses at the high schools. The board accepted a grant from the Foundation for the Edmonds School District that will fund 1.4 FTE to support music and visual and performing arts classes at each of the district’s high schools and middle schools. The board also renewed its partnership with the foundation.

Other items at the board meeting include:

  • A unanimous vote to approve a new middle school health curriculum.
  • A unanimous vote to approve state-mandated changes to the Title I parent/family engagement policy
  • A unanimous vote that approved changes to the animals in school policy. Changes mean that therapy and emotional support animals are removed from these policies. Service animals with a specific function are still permitted.
  • A public request for more bus drivers, as schools under construction must reroute students to other areas.

— By Jasmine Contreras-Lewis

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