More than 100 people of all ages gathered Thursday evening in the Edmonds Waterfront Center ballroom to show their support for the Edmonds School District school levy and bond issue to be decided by voters on Feb. 13. The event included brass-band music performed by ESD students, ice cream, speakers and raffles.
Billed as the Yes for Kids rally, the event was described by organizers as “a community-focused evening in support of school funding Propositions 1 and 2.” Organizers stressed that all speakers, attendees and planners were participating as individual citizens, and not representing employers, constituents or groups.
Voters are being asked to approve two propositions:
Proposition 1 asks for approval to sell $594 million in construction bonds that would fund accelerated completion of Oak Heights Elementary 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.
Also included in the proposition is the proposal to move the district’s sixth graders to middle school. 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 school district said. The transition would coincide with completing all middle school construction for the start of the 2028-29 school year. Click here for more detail on Proposition 1.
Proposition 2 asks voters to approve a capital levy that would fund a combination of student technology supplies including Chromebooks, pay for professional training and development to provide instructors with the needed skills to teach this material, and upgrade the district’s network infrastructure. The cost of these projects is estimated to be $120 million over four years.
Additional details on both propositions — including projected property tax impacts, an FAQ and an explanatory video presentation — are available on the School District’s 2024 School Construction Bond and Replacement Technology/Capital Levy webpage here.
Speakers at the Thursday event included Schools Superintendent Dr. Rebecca Miner, present and former School District Board Directors Kory DeMun, Nancy Katims and Susan Paine (who also serves on the Edmonds City Council), former Edmonds City Councilmember Tom Mesaros and current Edmonds City Council President Vivian Olson. (Again, all spoke as private citizens and not in their official capacities.)
In her remarks, Katims pointed out that while the state is responsible for funding many aspects of education, these do not include renovations or repairs. “This is our responsibility as a community,” she explained.
Miner stressed that both propositions fund legacy work “that will serve our community forever,” and allow students to have schools where they “can become all they can be.”
Appearing by video, Paine characterized these funding issues as critical to making sure that students “have the resources needed to support their highest level of educational attainment.”
Retired teacher and Westgate community member Nora Carlson stressed how the planned improvements to Westgate Elementary will enhance safety for students and staff by consolidating the school into a single building and minimizing exterior doors.
These remarks were echoed by Olson, who pointed out how interior hallways and fewer points of entry keep our young community members safe.
Mesaros called on voters to approve these issues as “an investment in the future of our community.” He went on to point out that when he and his family moved to Edmonds in 1990 and his children enrolled in Sherwood Elementary, he felt so fortunate that those who had come before had chosen to invest in these schools.
“It’s important for our democracy to have quality education,” he said. “Now it is our turn to invest in the future of our community.”
The presentations concluded with Westgate teacher and former cheerleader Lisa Hamilton leading a group of young students – complete with pom-poms and a cougar mascot — in a “Yes for Kids” organized cheer.
Ballots were mailed Thursday and will arrive in mailboxes in the coming days. They need to be completed and returned no later than Feb. 13.
— Story and photos by Larry Vogel