LYNNWOOD, Wash., November 30, 2021 – In its November 29 meeting, the Edmonds School District board of directors approved three members for the Educational Programs and Operations (EPO) Levy Pro/Con committees in a unanimous vote. The board previously approved a motion to place the levy on the February 2022 ballot.
The board also approved its 2021-2026 Strategic Plan and discussed the Ground Lease & Surplus with Housing Hope.
2022 Educational Programs and Operations (EPO) Levy Pro/Con Committee Members
Though there were three positions available on each committee, only three applicants applied: Kory DeMun and Sue Phillips for the pro committee and Jeff Heckathorn for the con committee.
Carin Chase moved to approve the pro/con committee applicants, seconded by McMurray. All three applicants were approved by a unanimous vote.
The EPO levy will be placed on the February 8 2022 ballot, and if approved by voters, will replace (not in addition to) the existing levy that is slated to expire. The 2022 levy, which the school district emphasizes is not a new tax, will continue to fund programs and operations not covered by state funding.
The expiring levy contributes to roughly 15% of the district’s general fund, according to the district’s website. The funds allow for additional staff such as nurses, counselors, teaching assistants, technology support staff, and custodians. The district already has seen staffing shortages this school year, and without the levy, could likely face even higher shortages.
Funding from the levy also contributes to fully funding student enrichment electives and advanced placement classes in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), as well as International Baccalaureate (IB) programs, Highly Capable programs, and College in the High School and Advanced Placement programs. It also funds extracurricular programs and special education services for both students and staff.
The tax rate of the expiring levy, which comes out of property taxes, sits at $1.49 per $1,000 of assessed property value, according to the Edmonds School District website. The proposed replacement levy will cost $1.50 per $1000, starting in 2023.
In terms of the total cost to taxpayers, the levy will be limited to a maximum number each year that is approved by voters:
- 2023: $63,500,000
- 2024: $67,100,000
- 2025: $70,800,000
- 2026: $74,800,000
The district claims that the actual tax rates have been lower than projections in previous years.
The 2021-2026 Strategic Plan
The board also approved the second reading to adopt the 2021-2026 Strategic Plan. The plan, which focuses on diversity and inclusion, aims to “advocate for each and every student by intentionally providing a culturally and linguistically affirming learning environment where students have the conditions they need to maximize their personal, creative, and academic potential to become lifelong learners and responsible world citizens,” as the strategic plan reads.
Gary Nobel motioned to approve the plan, seconded by Nancy Katims. Directors Mcmurray, Nobel, Chase, Katims, and Kilgore approved unanimously.
“I really hope that what this document becomes is the universal design standard…for the academic work of the district,” Director Ann McMurray said in the meeting.
Reading of the Ground Lease & Surplus with Housing Hope
The board also discussed Resolution 21-02 to surplus the Cedar Valley Ballfields property.
By doing so, the district would be able to lease 2.2 acres of the property to Housing Hope to develop a 40- to-50-unit affordable housing complex. The complex would be developed in partnership with the Housing Authority of Snohomish County (HASCO), and priority would be given to struggling families of students within the district.
The board emphasized that this housing would benefit many students who are directly affected by homelessness, including the roughly 350 students who have been identified as homeless and many more who have not yet been identified by the district. “I think we would be double that if we were truly able to identify those kids,” Superintendent Balderas told the board in his superintendent’s report.
The property would become permanent, affordable housing for those in need. “It’s not a shelter,” Director Kilgore said. “It’s real housing for real Edmonds families.”
The board will vote to surplus the property at the December 14 meeting.