Kids, no more birthday cupcakes
4:10 p.m. Edmonds School District’s Wellness Committee has banned parents bringing edible treats to school for sharing at birthday parties. The Herald reports that the sacking of sweets was inspired by a federal Wellness Policy, which requires schools participating in federal child-nutrition programs to monitor the healthfulness of unregulated items, including food sold through vending machines or student-run stores. Edmonds decided to take the policy one step further — federal policy doesn’t apply to food freebies.
Classroom birthday parties pose a problem that’s far from short and sweet — “we’re not just talking about one cupcake a year, we’re talking about 25 cupcakes a year,” said DJ Jakala, spokeswoman for Edmonds School District. Kids will be able to receive gift pencils, origami frogs or even extra recess time — but, at last check, more than 83 percent of those voting in an unscientific poll were telling The Herald that’s not enough for the children to chew on. — E.W.
Seattle looking at transit tax options
City Council members met Tuesday to begin discussing Mayor Ed Murray's plan to raise revenue for protecting bus service. The mayor's proposal aims to generate about $45 million annually through a $60 vehicle license fee for Seattle residents and a 0.1 percent city sales tax. The money would pay for bus service that is slated to be cut due to a shortfall in King County Metro Transit’s budget.
Councilmembers Nick Licata and Kshama Sawant have proposed eliminating the sales tax portion of the plan. As an alternative revenue source they have recommended an increase in the commercial parking tax from the current 12.5 percent to 17.5 percent, and a "head tax" on businesses of up $18 annually for each employee.
“The sales tax is not a stable revenue source," Licata said during Tuesday's meeting, in which the council was sitting as the governing board of the special-purpose Seattle Transportation Benefit District. Licata and Sawant also say their proposal would lessen the financial burden of the bus revenue plan on low-income Seattleites.
But Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, who chairs the benefit district, said that he has heard significant concerns from colleges, universities and hospitals about the parking tax. He specifically noted the University of Washington. Sawant didn't buy it. "They could easily absorb the commercial parking tax," she said, referring to UW. Mike O'Brien suggested that staffers look into whether it would be possible to eliminate the head tax from the Licata-Sawant proposal and make up the difference with a higher parking tax rate. Sawant said the idea did not seem viable. The benefit district will have until Aug. 5 to refer the proposal to voters for the fall election. — B.L.
Pushing for a downtown school
Downtown Seattle Association, Seattle Public Schools and the City of Seattle’s proposal to turn the old Federal Reserve Building in Seattle into a public school has moved into a higher gear. The federal Department of Health and Human Services recently turned down Compass Housing Alliance’s proposal to turn the downtown Federal Reserve Bank Building into a homeless shelter and center, due to inadequate financial resources, according to a letter from the Department of Health & Human Services. (Compass has not returned a call for comment.) Even though the July 3 application deadline is rapidly approaching, Downtown Seattle Association Vice President of Advocacy & Economic Development Jon Scholes said the process is running smoothly. “We have a good shot,” Scholes said, adding that high utilization of the 90,000 square-foot building — which could serve about 660 students — is one of the proposal’s strengths. – E.W.
JBLM may shelter detained immigrant children
Joint Base Lewis-McChord could become an emergency home for some of the thousands of undocumented children flowing from Central America. The Olympian reports that Gov. Jay Inslee has been communicating with the Defense Department and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services about using JBLM as a temporary holding place for the children before deporting them to their countries of origin.
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