Edmonds School Board takes a look behind the scenes at the District

By Eileen Kelliher

Who keeps the lights on and the furnaces running and the grass cut in the Edmonds School District, all the while bringing in additional funds? That was the story that Facilities Operations Manager Brian Harding told to the Edmonds School District Board of Directors when they met on March 26.

Harding’s primary goal this past year was greater collaboration, and he gave credit to Custodial Services and Warehouse Manager Bob Hansen and Maintenance Manager George Marschall for their help with this despite substantial budget cuts over the past years. Among the statistics that Harding laid out for the board to show the scope of his department of 91.5 employees’ activities:
– Reduced electricity consumption by 20 million kWh, or 15 percent, and saved $1.69 million since 2007 using Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM, or aggressive preventive maintenance)
– Reduced natural gas consumption by 1.2 million therms, or 15%; and saved $1.16 million using RCM
– Collected $139,989 in energy incentives since 2008-09
– Brought in $87,000 net in the past year from community facility rentals
– Saved $15,553 through in-house lighting retrofit projects in 2011/12
– Oversaw maintenance of 638 acres, 2.6 million square feet of buildings, 70 irrigation systems and 34 miles of fence among other duties for the district

Harding closed his remarks by saying that he has a $53,000 list of things that his department needs, but if he could choose, his first pick would be to refurbish Edmonds Elementary School’s exterior.

In addition, during the meeting:
– Executive Director of Business and Operations Stewart Mhyre reported that the district’s finances “were tracking well when compared to last year.” Board members Susan Phillips and McMurray questioned Mhyre on how the district goes about purchasing fuel. He explained that there are savings because the district purchases 10,000 gallons every two to three weeks from the state school system fuel pool and don’t pay all the taxes at the pump that individuals do.

Mhyre also updated the board on property issues. He said a lot of activity is taking place behind the scenes for Lynnwood Place, site of the former Lynnwood High School and planned home of a future Costco, along with retail stores and apartments. Lynnwood and developer Cypress are working out details such as roads, sidewalks, and planters. In May or June, Cypress will go back to the City of Lynnwood with its detailed proposal.

The district is also working with Mountlake Terrace to build better road access to the old Evergreen Elementary site. Then it will be a more attractive parcel to put on the market, Mhyre said.

Two other developments from Mhyre: Melody Hill tenants will move in the summer to old Woodway High School, and then the Melody Hill building will be torn down. And the group that runs Lynnwood Convention Center has expressed interest in the district’s parcel across 196th Street Southwest from the Center.

– Food Service Director Barbara Lloyd reported on the summer food service program that ran in tandem with last summer’s math tutoring. “It ran in the red to the tune of about $10, 000,” she said. Lack of participation and running the math program at too many sites were the central causes for the loss. Next year the district will provide fewer locations — four — and work to have more participants.  She believes that will put the summer food program in the black.

– Superintendent Nick Brossoit and Mhyre updated the board on the four budget meetings that the district holds to gather public input as the budget for next year is built. As the state Legislature does its work on implementing the court order to fully fund education, the superintendent predicted that the conversations at the budget meetings would evolve. Brossoit is cautiously optimistic that the state will respond in a positive manner and comply with the court decision. McMurray observed that often school staff outnumbers other community members at the public budget meetings and asked that there be a way to differentiate feedback along those lines. Brossoit agreed that the feedback form that is distributed during meetings should be changed to have a column where attendees could indicate whether they work for the district or are community members.

– Capital Projects Director Edward Peters put before the board an Asset Preservation Annual Report, which the district is required to do by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. In order to receive state matching funds for future construction, the district must prove to the state that previous joint construction ventures show a reasonable rate of depreciation. The district is submitting a third-party evaluation that shows it is within the guidelines.

The board next meets on April 16 at 6:30 p.m. at the Educational Services Center, 20420 68th Ave. W.,  Lynnwood.

School board contributing writer Eileen Kelliher served as a parent volunteer while her three children went through Seaview Elementary, Meadowdale Middle School, and Edmonds-Woodway High School. She works occasionally as a substitute classified employee for the Edmonds School Distric

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