Edmonds School Board selects interim superintendent, discusses school-based health center

President Nancy Katims on Tuesday announces the Edmonds School District Board of Directors’ selection of Dr. Rebecca Miner as interim superintendent for the 2022-2023 school year.

In addition to selecting Dr. Rebecca Miner as interim superintendent for the 2022-2023 school year, the Edmonds School Board at its Tuesday night meeting also heard an update on a proposal to create a school-based health center at Meadowdale High School.

Regarding the interim superintendent appointment, Board President Nancy Katims said the board is “confident that Dr. Miner will provide stability to the district by leading and supporting the work of our strategic plan and keeping the district moving forward in a positive direction.”

Miner was previously the superintendent of the Shoreline School District for seven years and spent three years at the White Pass School District before that. She is currently supporting districts as a Washington Association of School administrators lead for the inclusionary practices project and is also serving as the interim assistant superintendent for teaching, learning and equity in the Evergreen School District. Miner’s previous experience includes serving as an administrator overseeing special education services, an associate principal, a high school teacher of language arts, and a middle school special education and Spanish teacher.

The five directors unanimously voted to approve the selection of Miner and extend her an offer to be school district’s interim superintendent. Pending the completion of contract negotiations, she will start with the district on July 1.

Current Superintendent Dr. Gustavo Balderas, who has been with the Edmonds School District since July 2020, announced in March that he is leaving to head up the Beaverton School District in Oregon. His last day in the Edmonds School District will be June 30.

Due to the timeline involved, the school board then decided to first search for an interim superintendent in order to allow for more time when selecting a permanent replacement for Balderas. The board also determined that the interim superintendent will be hired to fill the position for no more than one year. Its stated goal was to find someone who had an extensive positive experience as a superintendent and was also familiar with education in Washington state and Snohomish County.

Efforts included hiring a search firm to assist with vetting the candidates which then led to the board selecting their top two candidates for interviews that included questions provided by various stakeholder groups.

“We would have liked to have enough time to include all stakeholders in this process, which of course we will do next year when we conduct the search for a permanent superintendent,” Katims said. “However, we were able to include some stakeholder groups in this current interview process,” she added, “by asking seven stakeholder groups – six staff groups and one parent group – to submit interview questions on key issues that mattered to them and to include responses that these groups would deem as excellent responses.”

Katims noted that while interviewing the final two candidates “we took the perspectives of these groups into account as we listened to the candidates’ responses,” to questions they had submitted.

Beginning this fall, the school board will undertake a national search to find the district’s next permanent superintendent. A district announcement noted it will seek extensive input from a variety of key stakeholders during that process.

Mara Marano-Bianco, program manager for student health services, discusses planning efforts to possibly create a school-based health center at Meadowdale High School.

Mara Marano-Bianco, program manager for student health services, updated board members about efforts to possibly create a school-based health center that could provide access to its services for some of the district’s most at-risk students. School-based health centers are located in or adjacent to a school and offer integrated medical, behavioral health and other health care services such as dental care.

The board first discussed the idea last summer and staff have been gathering input and additional information about the possibility. Services provided are typically defined by community need and primary care is provided by a physician assistant or nurse practitioner, licensed mental health providers and a clinic coordinator.

If approved, the school-based health center would be the first of its kind located in Snohomish County.

The on-campus health center would be sponsored by the Verdant Health Commission and Community Health Centers (CHC) of Snohomish County which would staff and manage it. Plans call for the health center to be located at Meadowdale High School and include two phases of implementation. Marano-Bianco said staff have identified the north end of the school district as an area of particular need “basically because we don’t have a federally qualified health center in that area to service some of our students and families in need” there.

Phase one involves opening a temporary space for the health center that utilizes a small room located inside of the school. Marano-Bianco noted it is anticipated that would be opened this August and “providing services that are very similar to what we offer in our back-to-school medical services environment.” Those could include providing immunizations, athletic medical assessments, dental needs, along with telehealth and mental health services.

“At this point I can happily announce that there won’t require any extra funding to get the first phase up and running,” she added. “CHC is planning on helping to support this phase one start up and from the school district all we have to do is clean up that room a little bit, cover some wires and we’re ready to go. So we’re really excited about that.”

Phase two is examining establishing a more permanent external site for the health center located at Meadowdale High School. “That way it’s more accessible to the community as well as just our students,” Marano-Bianco said. Planning efforts are currently targeting a goal of February 2023, but a large part of that involves identifying funding for a relocatable/portable structure and the associated water pipe infrastructure it would need to provide health services.

Expected startup costs for the structure and necessary measures to make it operational are approximately $800,000. She noted that CHC is in the process of submitting a funding proposal to Snohomish County for the proposal, adding “They do have some funds available and they were really excited about funding the very first school-based health center in Snohomish County.” The Edmonds School District and Verdant both provided letters of support for that funding effort.

In addition, the school district is working with Verdant to support the site planning, development design and coordination support necessary. Next steps during the second phase of planning include formalizing its approach and memorandums of agreement with project partners, the scope of work that the clinic would provide, along with communications and community outreach efforts to be undertaken.

Directors said they were excited about the idea of providing a location for students in need to access various health services. Not only would it be beneficial to the students and their families by reducing barriers to health care but doing so could also positively impact other factors such as student attendance and grades.

Marano-Bianco noted that establishing a school-based health center would not replace school nurses who can help augment those services by coordinating student needs with the health care providers. She also told the board that she would like to see future discussions about the project’s proposed second phase include exploring options for opening up its more permanent external site to serve the community at large in addition to students.

During a separate status update, Marano-Bianco reported that PCR testing provided by the district had detected a COVID-19 positivity rate of 7.4% that is very similar to what Snohomish County is experiencing, which is typical. The school district had reported 314 cases of COVID-19 within the previous 14 days. “Which is not surprising,” she added. “We were anticipating a bit of a pop-up in our numbers due to Spring Break. People went away, enjoyed themselves and unfortunately brought back more than just souvenirs.”

The district is continuing to support families and staff with testing needs by providing PCR and rapid types of tests for COVID-19. Those in need can contact either their school/facility or call the district’s centralized phone line at 425-431-1900 to schedule testing.

In other business, the board of directors unanimously approved awarding a contract to Wayne’s Roofing Inc. for nearly $474,00 to install fall protection anchors and complete the replacement of all gutters, rotting fascia boards, decking and other dilapidated materials at Brier Elementary School.

— By Nathan Blackwell

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