Video: Presentation, Q&A on Edmonds School District technology levy

A small group gathered at the Edmonds Senior Center Thursday night for a presentation by Edmonds School District Superintendent Nick Brossoit and Executive Director of Business and Operations Stewart Myhre regarding the district’s $59 million  Replacement Technology/Capital Levy now before voters.

The levy presentation was sponsored by the 32nd District Democrats as a community service. Mail-in ballots for the special election must be postmarked or deposited in a ballot drop-box no later than Feb. 9.

As expected, questions were raised about the district’s current use of tire crumb rubber infill on athletic fields, since field replacement is on the list of projects the levy would fund. The Edmonds City Council late last year imposed an 18-month ban on the installation of the crumb rubber turf following months of public testimony and discussion among councilmembers about possible health and environmental impacts of the material. (See more information at the end of this article about state legislation regarding crumb rubber that has been introduced during the current session.)

Brossoit stressed that no decision has been made on whether crumb rubber will be used in future fields. “In this replacement levy are the resources to have a turf field with some type of infill, but it doesn’t specify what type of infill,” he said. “The school board goes through a process before any project happens, and they bring in consultants and experts and they spend study session time to determine exactly how something is going to happen.”

He also referenced the studies that the district looked at regarding crumb rubber based on what the current literature indicates, and provided handouts summarizing them. You can see a link to those handouts here.

Here’s the breakdown of what the levy covers:

What Levy Funds Chart 2015-16Highlights of the Thursday night’s presentation:

      – The levy is a replacement levy, meaning that the existing levy “goes away” if voters approve the proposed measure, Brossoit said. Addressing a question about whether the levy was a “1-for-1” replacement for the current levy, Brossoit said: “There’s a slight increase as we’re trying to do a bit more with this replacement, so it’s not a one-for-one. It may be a 110 for 1. But the 1 goes away. It depends on your property as to whether you will pay exactly the same or more…because there’s been a lot of growth and assessed valuation, there’s been more businesses and households that are paying into the base, so we don’t have the same households paying into the base going forward. The base is bigger.”
      – The majority of funding — $32,388,000 — will go toward technology, including over time providing a Chromebook for every Edmonds School District student in grades 3-12. Brossoit brought a sample Chromebook to pass around to those attending the meeting, and noted that unlike laptops, Chromebooks are much less expensive, more durable and are designed to be used when connected to the Internet, with most applications living in the cloud. In this way, teachers can control what students access in the classroom and students and teachers receive instant feedback on what students are learning, Brossoit and Myhre explained. Chromebooks have become the pad and paper for today’s students, he noted.
      – There is $11.7 million allocated to outdoor facilities improvements. One of the major projects is replacing the current baseball field at Edmonds-Woodway High School. The Edmonds-Woodway field located at the southwest corner of the high school has been in the wrong place since the original Edmonds High School was built in 1957, Myhre said. “The distance from home plate to the outfield is 285 feet. Nowadays, if you were to build a baseball field for high school students, it would be a minimum of 350-400.” Not only is the field too small, Myhre said, but there are other logistical challenges, including a very large pine tree in foul ball territory on the left field line. “The goal is to move that field around so that the outfield of appropriate length, is much safer for our players and the players that come and visit,” he said. The levy also includes installing turf baseball fields at Meadowdale and Lynnwood high schools, as well as replacing other existing turf fields at Lynnwood High School in summer of 2019. (The high school opened in 2009 and turf fields have a replacement life of 10 years, he noted.) In addition, the levy proposal calls for tennis court improvements at Edmonds-Woodway, Mountlake Terrace and Meadowdale high schools.

– A total of $8.3 million has been earmarked to upgrade roofing systems at several school, including Meadowdale High School, Hazelwood Elementary, Edmonds Elementary and Brier Terrace Middle School.

– And $1 million has been allocated for school/parent group partnership programs, which provides matching funds for fundraising efforts taking place in schools. The district match is based on the percentage of students receiving free/reduced lunch in the school where the project is taking place.

You can see a sample ballot here. You can learn more on the Edmonds School District levy webpage.

The Edmonds School District serves the cities of Lynnwood, Mountlake Terrace and Edmonds, as well as portions of Brier and unincorporated Snohomish County.

Crumb rubber update: Bills have been introduced in the Washington State House and Senate during this legislative session that would require further study of the recycled tire infill. The Senate bill, 6540, would prohibit school districts from installing new fields made with the material unless several conditions are met. The House bill, 2547, prohibits both the installation and replacement of synthetic turf infill for use in a field, playground or recreational facility “unless the manufacturer demonstrates the safety of the synthetic turf to the department of ecology.”

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