School board approves levy, bond ballot measures; responds to anonymous ‘bathroom monitor’ threat

A photo of College Place Middle School from the early 1970s compared to 2023 shows that not much has changed besides the cars and a sign that has been removed.

The Edmonds School Board at its Tuesday, Oct. 24 meeting unanimously passed two propositions for voter consideration on Feb. 13, 2024:one will fund school construction, and the other will address technology needs for the next four years.

Proposition 1, a $594 million school construction bond, would fund completion of Oak Heights Elementary on an accelerated basis and replace the voter-approved 2021 Capital Levy. The bond measure would also replace College Place Middle and College Place Elementary, construct a fifth middle school at the former Alderwood Middle location, replace Westgate Elementary, and incorporate various bond renewal and upgrade projects.

The early completion of Oak Heights construction would save the district from needing to collect $90 million in capital levy funds authorized for collection in 2025 through 2028.

Also included in the proposition is the proposal to move the district’s sixth graders to middle school. Gonzalez said that learning standards shift between fifth and sixth grades and that curricula are designed for K-5, 6-8, and 9-12. Moving sixth graders to middle school means that students will have a wider range of course offerings as well as access to lab science.

The transition would coincide with completing all middle school construction for the start of the 2028-29 school year.

Proposition 2, the replacement technology/capital levy would fund student technology enhancements, investments in professional learning, improvements in infrastructure and tools for organizational support. The cost of those projects is estimated to be $120 million over four years. It would  replace the current levy that expires at the end of 2024.

Executive of Student Learning for Edmonds School District Lisa Gonzalez explained that the state typically allocates limited funds to new or replacement schools, and there is no state funding for many of Edmonds School District’s upgrade and renewal projects. Further, 15 of the district’s campuses were built over 50 years ago and must be replaced.

Learn more about the propositions and school designs here.

Gonzales also shared the results of the district’s Spring’s Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA). It is a standardized test consortium that creates Common Core State Standards-aligned tests to be used in several states.

Math scores are still 10% below pre-pandemic numbers.
Close behind math is English, which is still at 9% below pre-COVID performance levels.
Science is back to 2019 levels.

The results showed that although academic performances in math, English and science are not at  pre-COVID levels, district students still performed higher than the Washington state average.

In English Language Arts (ELA), 54% of Edmonds students performed at grade level, while the state average is 51%. Edmonds School District’s pre-COVID level was at 63%.

Pre-COVID performance numbers for math had 52% of district students at grade level. Results of the spring SBA showed Edmonds at 42%, while the  state average was 39%.

For the Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science (WCAS), Edmonds was at 44% — back to pre-pandemic levels — compared to the state average of 43%.

Edmonds School Board President Nancy Katims noted a correlation between attendance and academic performance. She suggested a study into the causation be conducted.

At Tuesday’s meeting, public comments, interruptions and anonymous emails  took their toll on directors and student directors alike. Two directors – one a student – voiced their discontent during the director comment period.

“I do wish that the people making public comments would be more respectful throughout the meeting because there are minors, including me, that are sitting and watching this meeting,” student advisor Amin Lkhagvasuren said.

“If you’re coming in this room and talking about improvements and wishing better for the students, but yet having negative energy or language, it is not the ideal influence on students nor adults,” she added.

However, the comments didn’t stop at the podium and in the audience, as the school board received an anonymous email Monday alerting them that a person was going to station themselves as the “bathroom monitor” for Edmonds School District Stadium.

In this case, the term bathroom monitor could be interpreted as a form of intimidation to prevent transgender students from using the restroom with which they identify.

The email elicited a profanity from School Board Director Keith Smith, who asked, “Who the f— does that person think they are?”

Smith said that the school board has gone from letting people speak at the podium and say things that are hateful, offensive, discriminatory and derogatory and now the “dog whistles” are leading to physical threats.

“My question is, what is that adult going to do?” Smith asked. “What if that student just said, ‘I’m going to go in the bathroom anyway? We’re going to have an assault.”

School Board Director Keith Smith

Although the district doesn’t know who the writer is, Smith said if that person is identified, he wants them  banned from attending district functions, even if it’s a parent.

“Those people who come up and say it’s for safety, they’re saying they believe that our students, our elementary school, our middle school students are just secret rapists and molesters waiting for their chance,” Smith said. “Either that or they’re arguing about the sanctity of a crap hole.”

In other business, the district approved consent agenda items that included revised pay rates for classified substitutes and hourly pay, effective Nov. 9, 2023, out-of-area assignments for certificated staff, and memorandums of understanding for employee benefits.

Also approved was the Interlocal Cooperation Agreement between Everett Community College and Edmonds School District for College in the High School Program for 2023-2024 and multiple school field trips.

The school board’s next meeting is on Tuesday, Nov. 14, at 6:30 p.m. To view the Edmonds School District’s board meetings, click here.

— By Rick Sinnett


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