At Edmonds School Board meeting, transportation issue points to lack of district resources

Edmonds School DistrictEleonora Abrahamyan, parent of a child attending Oak Heights Elementary School, approached the Edmonds School Board Tuesday night with concerns about her child’s commute to school.

She lives on Ash Way, within one mile of the school, so her 6-year-old child does not have access to school busing services. According to Abrahamyan, it is a nearly 20-minute walk on narrow roads that do not have sidewalks or crosswalks. She was lucky enough this year to have a neighbor willing to take Abrahamyan’s child to school, but now that her neighbor is moving, she does not know what she will do next year, when her second child will also be attending Oak Heights.

“I would like this matter to be looked at, maybe add an exception to this road because it is not safe and there are a lot of people here attending this school,” Abrahamyan told the board.

Abrahamyan said she has been communicating with the school and school board throughout the academic year regarding her concerns, but due to a lack of funding, she hasn’t seen a change.

“I think it’s ridiculous,” Abrahamyan said after the meeting.

Superintendent Nick Brossoit said he did recall meeting with Abrahamyan regarding student transportation. “You’ve been so gracious and persistent in advocating for transportation for your student,” he told her. “It’s difficult for us as a staff to not provide a service that we used to.”

Later in the meeting, Brossoit lamented how the lack of resources restricts the district when it comes to student services, including transportation.

“There are a lot of things that we want to do more of and that we want to do faster, and they are all competing for the next dollar we get,” he said. “Requests come at the rate of a fire hose and we only have a trickle of resources.”

Also at the meeting, Stewart Mhyre, the district’s Executive Director of Business and Operations, presented on how real estate developments in the northeastern area of the district will affect enrollment in the upcoming academic year. According to the student generation rates (a formula for predicting student population based on construction) from 2004 to 2010, Hilltop should expect an additional 35 students next year, Oak Heights an additional 36, Hazelwood an additional 26, Lynnwood Elementary an additional 21, and Martha Lake an additional nine. Additionally, Alderwood Middle School is expected to increase enrollment by 34 and Lynnwood High School should increase by 73.

Mhyre also reported that eight elementary schools have a need for additional classroom space. Eleven portable classrooms will be purchased to fill this need. Each classroom costs the district $306,000 for the purchase and installation of the buildings.

“A lot of people have an image in their head about portable classrooms as some worn out, stinky, moldy building, but for many of these schools, these will be the nicest buildings on campus,” Brossoit said. “These are functional spaces, a cost-effective way to handle our growth, and they are flexible.”

At Tuesday’s meeting, the board passed a $3.5 million budget for the classrooms, funded by the 2006 Bond Proceeds Balance in the Capital Projects Fund.

“I’m thankful that we are ahead of the game,” Board member Ann McMurray said. “I can’t imagine the amount of work that’s gone into figuring this out, and I just want to express my thanks.”

The board also passed a $300,000 budget to replace Oak Heights Elementary School’s roof and a contract for electrical upgrades at the Educational Service Center, the district’s administration building.

With the exception of Board members Susan Phillips and Gary Noble, who were absent and excused from  Tuesday night’s meeting, all three items were approved unanimously.

During closing comments, Board member Diana White mentioned that the Nick of Time Foundation will be providing free heart screenings for 500 students at Meadowdale High School on Feb. 12. She encouraged the board’s student advisers present at the meeting to get their classmates signed up so that the foundation can screen as many students as possible.

— By Natalie Covate

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