January 4 School District Board Meeting Recap

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At its meeting on January 4, the Edmonds School Board elected officers for the year: Susan Paine, President; Gary Noble, Vice-President; and Susan Phillips (out-going President), Legislative Representative.

The Board celebrated Meadowdale High School counselor Daniel Naegeli, nominated by Meadowdale principal Daniel Cote. Naegeliís contributions include instituting an evening tutoring program for students who need extra help, using National Honor Society students as tutors. The program has been helping twenty or more students per week for two years. In 2010 Naegeli received a prestigious award from the Pacific Northwest Association for College Admission Counseling.

The Board approved acceptance of the Lynwood High School building project, which action acknowledged satisfactory completion of construction. The acceptance triggers a period for assertion of liens and claims, following which the 5% retention, less any claims actually made, can be paid to the contractor. The proposed resolution generated lively discussion because the Board was also asked to, and did, approve a declaration of emergency so that extensive water damage to the new building, caused when pipes burst on New Yearís Eve, can be repaired without competitive bidding. The emergency declaration will minimize risk to the structure and allow students to return to the affected classrooms as soon as possible. The building is designed to send a flow of warm water through the pipes if the temperature falls below 35 degrees. While the administration will meet with the contractor about the problem, it was not immediately obvious why the system failed or who will be financially responsible. The school has been occupied since fall of 2009, and has weathered prior cold spells without any problem until now. The administration advised that delaying acceptance of the project would not be an appropriate response to the flooding problem.

More directly applicable to educating kids, Tony Byrd, Assistant Superintendent for Student Learning, reported on district initiatives to enhance learning. Much of the discussion involved initiatives to improve and evaluate instruction in the areas of literacy, math and science. As part of his presentation, Byrd introduced Eddie McGhee, the districtís Print Shop Supervisor. McGhee, a life-long reader noticed while riding the bus to work that he was the only one with a book in his hands. He has made it a goal to encourage district students to read for pleasure. With the support of Byrdís staff, he is brainstorming with librarians to find ways to help kids discover the joy of reading.

Mark Madison, Career and Technical Education Director, along with Byrd and Superintendent Nick Brossoit, discussed the districtís STEM (science, technology, engineering design and math) initiative, aimed at improving math performance and enhancing opportunities for high school students interested in engineering technology. One goal is to set up a STEM program, using the successful Brier Terrace model, in each of the traditional middle schools. The program will be taught collaboratively with and enhance math learning, and students will have the opportunity to earn high school credit. At the high school level, the administration also wants to expand the program at Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace, add it at Meadowdale, and introduce it at Edmonds-Woodway next year.

The district has one of six state STEM grants, but needs to allocate additional funds to implement the program in the middle schools. As levy funds will almost certainly enable the district to cover the shortfall in state funding resulting from the mid-year budget adjustments, Brossoit proposed allocating $140,000 of levy funds, half for emergency funds requested by elementary principals to enable them to complete the school year (for such necessary items as copy paper), and half for implementation of the middle school STEM program. The Board took no formal action but reacted favorably to the proposal. Member Ann McMurray, frustrated as a voter that levy funds voters approved for education enhancement are once again being diverted for core education, was particularly vocal in welcoming the prospect of moving forward, at least, with this initiative.

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