EDMONDS, Wash. - A brand new Snohomish County elementary school paid for with taxpayer dollars may sit empty next school year.
Students were set to move in to Madrona Elementary in the Edmonds School District at the end of summer. But KIRO 7 North Sound reporter Joanna Small found out that a conflict with the water district may change that entire plan.
Madrona Elementary School in Edmonds is special.
“We are what’s called a multi-age program,” explained Principal Kathleen Hodges.
So, Hodges says, it takes a special building to operate combined grade classrooms and the current building really isn’t it.
“A center is two classrooms, so some of the classrooms, we just have put doors in them; others, the walls were taken down -- everything is just kind of hodge-podged together,” Hodges told us.
For years, the district has been working to build a new Madrona Elementary right next door. It’s designed for split-grade classrooms, and just as important to the families who use it, to be environmentally friendly.
“There are outdoor spaces in between every building,” said Hodges. Plus the school’s stormwater system will filter the water and replenish an aquifer.
So the district says it’s frustrating to learn an environmental dispute with the Olympic View Water and Sewer District may prevent the district from moving into the new school this fall.
“We worked with the city of Edmonds and the Department of Ecology -- and it’s the Department of Ecology that regulates stormwater -- throughout the process in our design, getting our building permits. And then we heard from Olympic View Water and Sewer District fairly late in the design process that they had some concerns,” explained Kelly Franson with the Edmonds School District.
We Facetimed with Olympic View’s general manager, Lynne Danielson, who says while other schools in other districts use this same stormwater system, the problem with Madrona is that its stormwater will eventually serve as a water source for Olympic View’s 13,000 customers.
“This is the only one that’s being proposed in what’s called a watershed or surface water source protection zone,” she told us.
Danielson wants the school to agree to several more years of water testing than the five Madrona has offered.
“We sent them the list of tests last year and they didn’t respond with anything other than ‘we are going to follow Department of Ecology guidelines,’” Danielson said.
Officials of the school district and the water district met Monday and are still at an impasse. They’ll meet again Thursday and if an agreement isn’t reached, the school will have to make other arrangements.
Because the old building still has to be demolished to make room for the new building’s bus loop, next year the kids will be moved into the old Alderwood Middle School. While it’s big enough to accommodate all of Madrona’s 600 students, it really doesn’t meet their needs.
“The contractor is going to have to make some physical changes to make it work for our program -- we can’t just move into it,” Hodges explained.
She says they’ll do whatever they have to to make it work -- being adaptable is just another way Madrona kids are special.
“The kids shouldn’t carry our stress. They just know that one way or another, they have a place to go to school next year,” Hodges concluded.
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