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School district emphasizes innovation, inspiration and kindness

  • Written by Madeline Coats

 

Northshore School District highlighted students and programs at its annual State of Our Schools address at Northshore Community Church on Jan. 5. Madeline Coats

The Northshore School District comprises four high schools, six middle schools, soon-to-be 21 elementary schools and a student population of 23,577 kids.

“Each student matters, right? Those are not just numbers,” Superintendent Dr. Michelle Reid said. “We are not talking about data points; we are talking about children.”

Reid delivered her State of Our Schools address for Northshore School District Wednesday, Jan. 5. The event was hosted at Northshore Community Church in Kirkland and featured music performances from students of all ages, as well as food served by young chefs.

She highlighted innovation, inspiration and kindness in the 33 schools across the district. 

The school district currently covers 60 square miles. Reid said Northshore is one of the largest districts and encompasses Woodinville, Bothell, Kenmore and areas of unincorporated King and Snohomish counties.

“We are a network of schools that form one fabulous district,” she said. 

Northshore focuses on a wide array of subjects, ranging from government to the arts. Reid said the district has more than doubled music participation at the secondary level. More students have been able to access music since financial barriers were eliminated, she added.

“I personally think that the arts are a critical part of core education,” she said. 

Career and Technical Education courses have grown from 2,400 to 3,300 throughout the district. Reid said the students have learned skills “that would not otherwise have an opportunity to be learned.”

Reid also mentioned potential solutions to the transportation fiasco with school start times. Through research, she said the district discovered an application called My Stop to update parents and students on bus times. 

Innovation, such as discovering the new app, was a popular topic during the address. She touched on the various ways students are engaging in critical thinking and problem solving, such as Science Olympiad and Future Problem Solvers.

The district is planning to open a new school, Innovation Lab High School, in the fall. The idea for the school was originally an answer to space issues, Reid said. This school will allow students to learn in a “more collaborative way” and deepen critical and design thinking, she added.

“We will have several evenings of conversations with parents and students, and essentially we’re going to be responsive to a changing world,” she said. 

Ruby Bridges Elementary, otherwise known as Elementary #21, will also open in the fall. Reid said the new school plans to serve about 500 students. The district aims to capture the dedication, passion and commitment of the 6-year-old civil rights activist.

People and moments of inspiration are consistent throughout Northshore. According to Reid, 89% of students who are English language learners graduated on time last year compared to 56% back in 2016.

“It’s such an honor to be part of a district that actually doesn’t just talk about equity and access, but they do something about it,” Reid said.

She talked about Verada Ellet, a sight-impaired runner on Inglemoor’s cross country team. Reid said the freshman would run with another coach, attached only by a short cord, to navigate difficult terrain on the course.

“Verada and family are extremely appreciative of the opportunity for all athletes to compete and be recognized despite their perceived disabilities,” said cross country coach Richard Bennett on behalf of the student.

The school district superintendent closed her presentation with an emphasis on the importance of spreading kindness in the community. At the start of the school year, Reid said she challenged every student and staff member in the district to do one kind thing every day. 

She did the math. Roughly 23,000 students and 3,000 staff members, multiplied by 157 days since the beginning of the school year, equals about 4 million actions of kindness. 

“That adds up. That creates a groundswell of energy that cannot be stopped,” she said. “Over 4 million acts of kindness, we are very proud of that. That set our tone for the year and I hope it continues to set our tone both locally and nationally.” 

County focuses on housing and homelessness

  • Written by Madeline Coats

The beginning of a new decade is a time to reflect on the past and prepare for the future. 

Regionally, King County aims to focus on affordable housing, homelessness and climate change. Locally, the county plans to enforce code provisions for wineries, breweries and distilleries in Woodinville and unincorporated King County.

King County Councilmember Claudia Balducci presented her State of the County address to Woodinville City Council during its regular meeting on Feb. 4. 

Balducci represents District 6 in King County, which extends north to Woodinville and Bothell. The area also covers Mercer Island, and parts of Bellevue, Kirkland and Redmond. She was recently elected to be chair of the county council.

“As chair, I’ve been focusing on trying to make our council more unified and open,” Balducci said.

Balducci briefly touched on the long, controversial process that resulted in an updated adult beverage ordinance for wineries, breweries and distilleries in Woodinville. She said the county conducted extensive public outreach before the new code was adopted.

“I know there was a fair bit of controversy,” Balducci said. “I think it’s fair to say that there wasn’t a single person who was really happy at the end of it, which I think means we ended up in a place of great compromise. Or you can call it whatever you choose.”

Balducci said the new code has clear definitions, which makes it easier to apply and enforce. The county is in the process of hiring people to implement the code, she added.

“I want to keep in close contact with you all, and the interested parties, to be sure that we’re achieving the outcomes we said we were going to achieve,” Balducci said. “We have to make sure that things are working and if they’re not, then we have to go back and adjust.”

From a regional perspective, her presentation focused on housing, homelessness and climate change. She said housing affordability continues to be a broad issue in King County.

Balducci said staff is working to advance housing policy and funding to ensure there are enough households for people to live throughout the county.

“Our study has found that over 150,000 households in King County are severely cost-burdened, which means they spend more than 50% of their income on housing,” she said. “It means they are just one paycheck, medical emergency or unexpected expenditure away from being homeless.” 

She said the Affordable Housing Committee has recommended several ways to increase housing in King County. In an effort to better record development, there are plans to design an online dashboard to track data and see results. 

“Our goal is to first create 44,000 affordable homes in five years,” Balducci said. “It’s very challenging, but it’s what we really need if we’re going to make any difference.”

The committee is also focused on reviewing new and existing sources of funding to generate subsidized housing for those at lower ends of the income spectrum. She said the county wants to work with jurisdictions to increase and diverse housing choices.

Balducci said there is a growing number of people living on the streets due to increased housing costs, among other reasons. Homelessness remains a challenge throughout the county, specifically in Seattle. 

King County and the Seattle City Council passed an interlocal agreement to create a Regional Homelessness Authority last year. The agreement was adopted in partnership with the Sound Cities Association and will include 12 total members. 

“This is a regional problem that requires regional solutions,” Balducci said. “What we’ve been doing hasn’t been working. Our system is fragmented and not focused enough on outcomes.” 

East King County is taking action to update emergency shelters. She said Bellevue will soon have a men’s shelter and Kirkland will be opening a shelter for women and families later this year. Redmond’s youth and young adult shelter is already open, she added.

The council is also working with cities to combat climate change and reduce carbon emissions. Balducci said the county will be partnering with local jurisdictions to create a Climate Action Toolkit for reducing greenhouse gas emissions communitywide. 

She said King County will be updating its strategic Climate Action Plan this year. One goal under the current action plan is to plant 1 million trees by the end of 2020. 

Balducci said her last count was 921,111 trees so far. Only 7,889 to go.

City seeks community input on improvement

  • Written by Madeline Coats

The city of Woodinville is partnering with citizens to identify and prioritize infrastructure investments for Woodinville’s Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). The CIP is a multi-year planning document that helps guide local communities in coordinating the financing and timing of improvements to existing buildings, facilities, land or infrastructure.

“Public engagement and participation are critical to the success of Woodinville’s CIP,” said Management Analysist Maia Knox in a news release. 

Current capital projects are focused on replacing the Woodinville Sports Fields turf, various surface water improvements and additional road repaving projects. Past improvements included renovating DeYoung Park and widening the Northeast 175th Street bridge over the Sammamish River. 

Woodinville’s six-year CIP is updated every two years and includes projects that cost more than $50,000 and have a life space of at least five years. These projects typically involve constructing, renovating or rehabilitating roads, parks, city-owned public facilities and surface water infrastructure.

The news release said city staff reviews and updates the plan every year to consider new projects and priorities. Potential improvement projects are evaluated based on criteria related to public health, safety, financing and quality of life. 

The city encourages community members to take action and submit suggestions for future additions or improvements to Woodinville, including a proposed location. CIP requests can be submitted online via the city’s website until March 6. 

Submissions will be evaluated according to project cost, feasibility and public benefit criteria. Staff will analyze and prioritize projects in the spring and summer months before presenting a draft CIP in the fall. There will also be an open house in late May for citizens to ask questions and provide comments before final adoption.

“Community members also welcome to participate in the CIP planning process by attending one or more public meetings held at city hall for the planning commission, public spaces commission, and city council to discuss the draft CIP,” said the news release.

Council will ultimately adopt the final 6-year plan sometime between October and December and allocate funding for the next two years.

WSP seeking witnesses to a road rage shooting on SR 520

  • Written by Cpt. Neil Weaver|WSP

At approximately 3:15 p.m. on Feb. 11 Washington State Patrol (WSP) communications received a 9-1-1 call from an individual that stated that another driver shot at him on EB SR 520.

According to the victim, he was driving a 2000 BMW and the suspect in a 1992 Honda Accord was tailgating him while they were traveling EB SR 520 in Redmond. The victim then changed lanes at which time the suspect vehicle swerved at him and he swerved back. At this point, the suspect driver produced a handgun and the victim stated the suspect fired one shot at his vehicle.

The victim provided a description of the vehicle and driver and a short time later Duvall PD called WSP dispatch and advised that they had the suspect vehicle stopped in their city.

Troopers transported the victim to that location where he positively identified the suspect driver and vehicle. The suspect was arrested and booked into the King County Jail.

WSP detectives are seeking witnesses that may have been in the area of eastbound SR 520 around the time of this incident and observed these two vehicles and the subsequent shot being fired. Please contact Detective Todd Early at (425) 401-7747 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Woodinville natives open a breakfast restaurant in Arizona

  • Written by Madeline Coats
Scott Waldron and Mindy Freed opened their first breakfast truck in 2017. The two Woodinville High School graduates recently opened a restaurant in Gilbert, Ariz. Mindy Freed photo

 

GILBERT, Ariz—Ever heard of a breakfast burrito with tater tots inside? What about nachos made with tater tots, scrambled eggs, jalapeños, Pico de Gallo and sour cream?

These unique meals, created by Woodinville High School graduates Scott Waldron and Mindy Freed, can be found at a new restaurant in Gilbert, Ariz. The breakfast business began as a food truck called Morning Kick Casserole, back in 2017.

The two Woodinville natives never knew each other in high school.

“We met at a Seahawks bar down here,” Freed said. “We found out that we grew up two streets away from each other. I knew his brother, but never knew him.”

Freed said they opened the food truck with a small loan from Waldron’s grandfather, who passed away just after the first food-truck event. His grandmother still lives in Woodinville and travels to Arizona often, she added. 

“Our son is kind of the inspiration behind the food truck because he was a picky eater,” Freed said. “The idea flourished when he tried breakfast casserole on Christmas morning and loved it.”

At first, the truck had difficulty finding events to sell breakfast foods—until they discovered the Gilbert Farmers Market.

The couple bought a bigger truck, updated the menu and jumped on social media. Freed said the online following increased quickly and customers would wait in long lines to get breakfast at the market.

“It had a huge following, which was really strange because we were just a breakfast truck,” she said. “Last year, we ended up winning ‘Best Breakfast in the Valley’ in the Phoenix Magazine, which was a huge accomplishment because we were not a restaurant.”

The duo even makes their own salsa, which they plan to bottle and sell.

Freed and Waldron bought a second truck last January in order to visit two farmers’ markets each Saturday. She said they sold the truck because it became too overwhelming to manage both.

Freed said they decided the business needed a brick and mortar home base where people can get breakfast five days per week or more. So, the idea to create a restaurant came to life.

The restaurant, Morning Kick, opened Wednesday, Jan. 22, and features new additions to the menu. She said the first three days were focused on a soft opening with family and friends. By the weekend, customers were lined up out the door. 

“We are used to a fast-paced operation,” Freed said. “People move through the restaurant very quickly.”

She said the restaurant is “really bright and cheery,” and features lots of seating. The WiFi password is ‘Seahawks,’ which Freed said creates conversation among customers.

“This is just an awesome community of support,” Freed said. “A lot of people from Washington live down here. It’s a lot of snowbirds.”

The food truck and restaurant both offer 14-inch tortillas, increasing the size of the burrito. A Keto bowl is also sold for those participating in the diet.

Scott Waldron and Mindy Freed with their children in
front of the couple’s Morning Kick Food Truck. Mindy Freed photo

 

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