Edmonds School Board hears reports on career and technical education, student discipline plan

Board President Nancy Katims addresses public commenters during Tuesday’s meeting.

The Edmonds School District Board of Directors Tuesday night heard positive news regarding the district’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) program, which offers a range of career training opportunities for high school students.

CTE Director Mark Madison presented the board with an overview of the program’s plan for the school year, explaining that CTE is the evolution of older vocational programs. The program’s four-year work plan is reviewed every year to see if anything needs to be changed. 

“Our goal is to provide the highest-quality programs,” Madison said.

Madison said the four variations of the program have all done better than anticipated, and he hopes the district can maintain the growth.

The first program offered virtual field trips and meetings with speakers from various career fields during the COVID-19 pandemic when students were not able to tour the facilities or meet with anyone in person. Madison said that while the district’s goal was to have 50% of enrolled CTE students participate in this portion of the program last year, 81% of students attended the virtual trips.

The second program is worksite learning, during which students physically visit workplaces and experience what certain industries look like. Last year’s goal was to have 70 students enrolled, but Madison said they had 82 students all year.

“We anticipate easily tipping over 100-120 students for this school year,” Madison said.

The third program offers industry-recognized certifications that students can earn while still in high school but will be recognized by employers once they graduate and enter the workforce. Madison said the enrollment last year was 1,157 students, which more than tripled the district’s goal of 300.

The final program is student leadership, which saw 785 students in the last year, compared to 415 students the previous school year.

Madison said the school district also received a grant from Washington Alliance for Better Schools, which will provide industry tours for juniors and seniors.

“The grant pays for everything,” he said. “They pay for the buses, they pay for the subs, they pay for the food, they pay for all of it. We just have to get the students.”

Madison said the program’s main goal going forward is to remove barriers so all students can access the CTE program. On top of that, he said the program is working to equalize the male-to-female ratio in both more male- and female-dominated career fields.

In other business, the board briefly discussed the district’s new approach to student discipline. Assistant Superintendent Greg Schwab explained that staff are attempting a restorative practice approach. 

“Restorative practice refers to the approach to student discipline which really starts with the relationship between students to students in school and [between] adults to students in school,” Schwab said.” So, when you talk about restorative practices, you’re talking about restoring that relationship.”

Schwab went on to say that staff will also try to take into account factors outside of school that could be affecting a student’s behavior. For example, he said, if two students are acting out, but staff know that one just suffered a significant loss in their family, staff will handle that situation differently than a student who has not suffered any known traumatic experience in order to be displaying that behavior.

“I want to be really clear: Restorative practice does not mean that there isn’t a consequence or an intervention for a student’s behavior,” Schwab said. “We just don’t stop at the intervention or the consequence. We then take the additional step of making sure that we engage in that process of restoring that relationship between the students … or student and staff member.”

Director Deborah Kilgore requested Schwab return later in the school year to report on how the restorative practice is going, to see if adjustments need to be made.

In addition, the board held a public hearing for the district’s Capital Facilities plan. Part of the state’s Growth Management Act, the plan assesses if the school district has the capacity to house the projected number of students enrolling in the coming years.

Snohomish County requires the plan to be updated every two years.

“Given that this is a two-year update, yes we do have adequate capacity,” said Matt Finch, the district’s director of facilities operations. “Look any further than that, though, and it gets interesting.”

No comments were made during the public hearing and the board of directors did not ask any clarifying questions.

Interim Superintendent Dr. Rebecca Miner said she is excited to be spending the year with the district and can’t wait to see what happens.

“It feels very normal for the first time in a while,” Miner said. “We’re calling it ‘normal plus’ because we’re not going to forget all the lessons we’ve learned from the pandemic.”

During the public comment period, Board President Nancy Katims responded to questions raised about district policies regarding transgender students, reading a statement that a group of students had submitted to the board:

“‘You cannot uneducate a student or a person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore,’” Katims read. “And this is what we hope for all our students: That we will help them to not only learn to read, think and problem solve, but that they will be resilient and proud of who they are and what they’re able to contribute to their school, their community and to this society after they graduate. And I’d like to say a big thank you to all of our staff who work to make this goal a reality.”

— By Lauren Reichenbach

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