By Melissa Slager Herald writer
The library at Spruce Elementary School is on a rolling cart these days.
That’s because the library itself is being revamped as classroom space to handle the influx of all-day kindergartners coming through the doors each morning thanks to last-minute added state funds.
It’s a solution for this year, but district administrators wonder what will happen next year — and not just at Spruce.
“We do not want to be in the position of Mukilteo next year, turning down dollars because we don’t have anywhere to put the kids,” said DJ Jakala, spokeswoman for the Edmonds School District.
The Mukilteo School District turned down $1.6 million in extra state funding for all-day kindergarten for a lack of classroom space, and leaders there are now eyeing a bond proposal to solve the problem.
Edmonds is joining Mukilteo, as well as Everett and Northshore, in considering its own capital and construction bond proposal for the February 2014 ballot. The Stanwood-Camano School District has a $29 million schools and technology levy on the Nov. 5 ballot.
Rough figures put the total for Edmonds at $245 million.
Superintendent Nick Brossoit and his staff are pulling together public meetings Thursday to share information, answer questions and gauge support.
Adding more classroom space across the district’s elementary schools to account for more all-day kindergartners — as well as smaller class sizes in grades 1-3 — is just one reason for the bond proposal.
The bulk of the proposal would actually go to replacing three aging schools administrators say are well past their usable life: Lynndale Elementary, built 1957; Madrona K-8 in 1963; and Alderwood Middle in 1966. Those are three projects that the district, when promoting its 2006 bond measure, had hoped to complete by now using proceeds from leases on non-school properties it owns.
In the wake of the recession, that lease revenue never materialized, Jakala said. “Like everyone else, our property — like a homeowner — isn’t worth as much.”
Money from the 2006 bond built the new Lynnwood High and Meadowdale Middle schools, among other capital projects. Those projects came in on time and on budget, allowing smaller projects to get done as well. One of those added projects is a planned update of Edmonds Elementary School’s much-maligned facade, Jakala said.
The district continues to prepare the old Lynnwood High School site, just north of Alderwood mall, for Lynnwood Place, a Costco-anchored complex expected to open in 2015. Lynnwood Place is among a number of redevelopment projects the district is working on to generate long-term lease revenue for capital projects.
But in the meantime there are flooding issues and leaking roofs to contend with. “The kids can’t wait for the lease revenue to roll in,” Jakala said.
School-by-school plans for how the district would use bond money to add classroom space have not been finalized, but would likely include permanent additions or temporary portable classrooms, depending on the building, Jakala said. Details are expected to be posted on the school district’s website when they become available.
The rest of the bond proposal would likely be rounded out by smaller capital projects across the district, such as improvements to roofs, safety, and heating and ventilation systems.
An influx of state funds this fall after several years of cuts prompted school board and administration leaders to discuss the idea of floating a bond proposal earlier than the 2015 date they had been eyeing.
Edmonds received an extra $11 million in state funding shortly before the start of the school year. The district used some of that to add teachers at elementary schools to reduce class sizes, as well as expand full-day kindergarten at three high-needs schools, including Spruce.
Last year, Spruce Elementary housed two full-day kindergarten classes totally 50 students and one half-day class with 37 students. This year, there are four full-day kindergarten classes with a total of 97 students.
Elsewhere in Snohomish County, the Everett School District is considering a bond to build a new elementary school and a new high school in the southern part of the school district, which is experiencing rapid growth. Other projects likely would include a major remodel of North Middle School.
The Mukilteo School District is considering plans to add an early learning center, among other building projects.
The Northshore School District, which straddles the King-Snohomish county line, will ask voters to approve a new $130 million campus in the North Creek area east of Lynnwood and north of Bothell. If the bond measure passes, the four-year high school could open in the fall of 2017.
Edmonds Schools Superintendent Nick Brossoit and staff on Thursday will share information and gather input on a possible capital and construction bond proposal that could be placed on the February ballot. The same information will be shared at all three sessions, 3:30-4:30 p.m., 5-6 p.m. and 6:30-7:30 p.m., at the Educational Services Center, 20420 68th Ave. W., Lynnwood.
For more information, call 425-431-7044.