Story has been updated with correct photo of Kathleen Hodges.
Four Meadowdale High School teachers came to the Edmonds School Board meeting May 23 to highlight security concerns related to district budget cuts.
In response to the district’s $15 million budget shortfall, hundreds of community members have gathered to defend programs on the chopping block during the last three meetings. While most have decried cuts to music, social support and special education programs, these Meadowdale representatives spoke about the loss of two Valley Patrol security officers and reduced hours for the school’s remaining security officer.
District alum, teacher and parent Kolleen Seals provided context for Meadowdale’s security situation.
“[We have a] large, spread-out campus with multiple points of entrance and exits from all four sides, 52 points of access that have to be monitored at all times, four separate buildings plus our portables,” she said. In spring 2022, Lynnwood police were “on campus daily for two weeks patrolling for fear of gang activity,” said Seals, who went on to mention that she personally escorted scared students to the bathroom and an instance in which a gang member attempted to register at the school under a false name to gain access to the campus.
According to Seals, Meadowdale confiscated weapons so frequently that safes were allocated to store them in.
Another teacher, Corinne Daycross, spoke about the importance of familiarity between students and security staff, as well as the other tasks that security staff perform at the school, such as creating ID badges and monitoring lunch detention.
“They [supervisory staff members] know our students better than any of the teachers, any of the admins because they’re out all the time,” Daycross said. “They’re in different contexts with the students and they know better than anyone what faces belong on our campus.”
During board comments later in the meeting, School Board President Nancy Katims said she was frustrated that this was the first time the board had heard these security concerns.
Also during public comment, passionate teachers and students once again spoke to the important role music plays students’ social and academic development. Music teachers and students described the negative impact of combining music classes with differing ages and skill levels – something that will occur with planned budget cuts.
Many commenters said that the cuts directly contradicted the district’s goal of equity. Others claimed that administrative salaries were too high and should be reduced.
Later in board comments, school board members talked about how members of the public had treated them after the district’s budget cut plan was announced.
Board member Deborah Kilgore said that the board’s function was to oversee the work of the district and its superintendent, and they did not fund or cut specific classes as it would be a conflict of interest.
“Someone had insinuated that I wasn’t a good parent. That’s crossing the line.” Kilgore said, reiterating that no members of the board wanted to cut the budget.
In other business, Lynnwood Mayor Christine Frizzell attended the meeting to thank students who participated in the 2023 Mayoral Challenge, which asked students grades in 4-12 to offer solutions to citywide issues like icy roads. Awardees included high schoolers and an entire class of fourth graders, all of whom were given a certificate acknowledging their assistance.
In addition, the board thanked this year’s student advisors for their work. They acknowledged the unique insight that high schoolers Kayla Apostol, Peter Garcia, Roshni Gill, Ohanna Jimenez, Elizabeth Lopez, Jazzma Pennerman and Sadie Sadler brought to the meetings.
The board also received a presentation from Edmonds Heights K-12 school representatives, a learning environment that pools educational resources for students not studying in traditional classroom environments. Students spoke about the facilities and clubs that the school offered, including a maker space, a robotics club, and a Dungeons and Dragons club. Principal Kathleen Hodges talked about the school’s efforts to increase equity, which involved creating academic support roles and a pilot to provide more teaching resources for parents educating their children.
Hodges said that participation in the iReady testing was low as students in alternative learning experiences were not used to testing environments and parents were not trained in the software so collecting quantifiable data was a challenge. Instead, the school used alternative methods with a different software and focused on implementing a specific education plan for each student.
Finally, the board:
- Unanimously voted to approve a new phonics program and other minor policy updates. Data about the phonics program, including pilot results and data analysis, can be found here.
- Heard from Oak Heights Elementary School rebuild planners on how the new school’s design would be environmentally friendly and recognize natural land formations. Additionally, they said the school would be conducive to community building by implementing shared social spaces.
–By Jasmine Contreras-Lewis