Sunday, November 04, 2007

Designing a school full of blunders.

Parents and Voters,

Please read the following letter which we sent to the district today. We ask for your support in requesting that the Edmonds School District go back to the drawing board to present us with cost estimates for Proposition #2.

Thank you

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Monday, February 04, 2002 1:19 PM
Subject: Concerned Parents on Proposition 2

Dear Dr. Robertson,

Recently, a group of concerned parents decided to become informed voters and take a closer look at the upcoming school bond issue aimed at raising funds for the new Lynnwood High School and Scriber Lake High School. We were prompted to enter into this research for two reasons: first being the amount of the bond issue, and secondly a concern we have over many of the design features in recently constructed school buildings in the Edmonds School District which, though attractive, appear to lack functionalism. To aid us in our research, we requested and received a "Cost Comparisons: Proposed New Lynnwood High School and Recent High School Construction" spreadsheet from the district. This confirmed our concern that the proposed cost for Lynnwood High is significantly higher than was the cost for constructing Edmonds Woodway or Meadowdale High, even though the student enrollment and square footage are roughly the same, and taking into account that EWHS and MHS were built three years ago. We have tried to analyze these cost differentials but the information does not appear to be complete. In addition to the financial figures we requested from the district, we arranged to tour many of the most recently constructed buildings including: Chase Lake, Maplewood, Edmonds Woodway, Meadowdale High, Meadowdale Elementary and Cedar Valley. We also requested to tour the sight of the new Terrace Park, but our request was denied due to the project completion deadline. As voters and taxpayers in this district, as well as being parents of school age children, we feel it is valid to ask for and receive an accountable explanation for why such a large amount of construction money is needed.

In addition to our concerns about the amount of the bond issue, we have serious questions about funds allotted in school building projects for innovative, but non-goal oriented design features. Not only have we noticed such things as high ceilings, exposed piping, out of the way ledges and oddly shaped and placed windows, but feedback from support services personnel has confirmed our suspicions that although such features give a dramatic and cutting edge look to some of our buildings, they are very costly to install and replace, as well as very costly, and in some cases, impossible to clean. Specific examples would be the high ledges and exposed piping in Edmonds Woodway; high, angled windows in the open commons of Chase Lake (perhaps these windows were meant to let in natural light, yet they are angled so that the light bounces off a non-reflective wall); the outside, angled windows in the gymnasium at Cedar Valley; and the high, towered atrium in the cafeteria at Meadowdale Elementary. After speaking to teachers and parents, we are also concerned with the lack of storage space in the classrooms, and the noisy environment caused by the lack of acoustical materials, and/or open concept plan between upper and lower stories in the hallways of several buildings. It would appear that architectural artistry is winning out over functionalism and practicality in many of our schools. We are troubled that concerns and input from the people who use and maintain these buildings are not being adequately represented in the design process, creating costly mistakes. To be sure, we did not find all of the new schools to be problematic. Meadowdale High and Meadowdale Elementary and Maplewood seemed to have basically sound designs with good use of light and space, although storage seemed to be a consistent problem in all the schools we visited.

In conclusion, Dr. Robertson, we are not intending to vote in favor of "Proposition 2", nor are we recommending that our friends and colleagues do so either. We are certainly not opposed to the building of new schools, but just as two reasons prompted us to begin this fact finding mission, two reasons prevent us from having a positive outlook on this bond issue. First, we feel that there are two many non-addressed issues in the design process, possibly erring on the side of form rather than function, and secondly, we were dissatisfied with the lack of response as to why the amount for this bond issue was requested. It is our suggestion that the district go back to the drawing board, so to speak, and come up with a better defined plan, be forthcoming as to why the suggested amount is needed, and address the issue of including all pertinent parties in all stages of the design and building process. After all, it is not the amount of money, or the amount of innovative architectural features, but what the finished product will provide – dollar for dollar- for our children.

Respectfully yours,

Sharon Nichols
Laura Riddle
Name Withheld


Anonymous said...

i think the district depends on voter apathy and will keep pushing a bad idea until the majority falls asleep at the wheel.

Anonymous said...

Hold on , were losing kids & you can build a new ESC. Now about some teachers or workers.
Nick, pull your head out.
Thats right your be gone soon, so we the taxpayers will suck it up not you. Man up dude! $200,000 a yr for this. Go drink some Olympia