For those Edmond School Board positions with three or more candidates, the Aug. 6 primary election will narrow the choices to the top two vote getters. The winners of the primary election will then square off in the Nov. 5 general election. To help voters learn more about the candidates, including those who are running in the general election only, the My Neighborhood News Network sent a questionnaire to each candidate appearing on the ballots.
We will post these as we receive them.
Note that while each school board position represents a specific area, all voters living in the district get to vote for all positions.
Incumbent Carin Chase is seeking re-election for Director District 1 in a two-way race against Alvin Rutledge. The candidates will not appear on the August ballot.
Q: Why are you running to be an Edmonds School Board Director? What do you hope to accomplish during your time as a board director?
Chase: I believe that democracy is the best strategy for community governance. A precondition of that governance is an educated and informed community, and public education is fundamental to that end.
My goal is to ensure that our public education district provides a high quality learning opportunity in an environment of equity and equality. Parents rightfully demand that their children and youth be prepared for higher education, trade education and critical thinking skills to become informed and engaged citizens.
I’m running to support this community’s demands for fully funded schools that meet the needs of every student as well as supporting our teachers and guaranteed funding for support staff, such as counselors, librarians and special education.
Q: What experience would you bring as a board director and how is it relevant to the position?
Chase: I am a product of Washington state public education from preschool to graduate school at the Evans School of Public Policy at UW, with a focus on education policy. I’m also a proud parent of a student in our state’s public university system and a graduate of Mountlake Terrace High School. I understand the importance of multiple pathways to graduation and also the concerns of parents who count on the public school system to educate and prepare our children for future success.
I was elected and have served four years as legislative chair on the Edmonds School Board, where I provided strong fiscal oversight of our public dollars by demanding accountability. I also serve as chair of The Snohomish County Human Rights Commission, which advocates for equity and inclusion for all people.
Q: In light of the decision to sign a contract with Right at School, which many parents felt they didn’t have time to comment on, how do you think the school district could improve its public engagement process?
Chase: Parents deserve to have every opportunity to participate in an open and transparent process about education policy. I support publishing a list of the public policy items that will be on the school board’s agenda well before meetings. Also, families of students enrolled in specific programs should receive timely invitations to comment. We should continue to ask families about the best way to communicate with them. I support more frequent opportunities for parents and educators to meet directly with members of the board and administration.
Q: What plans do you have to ensure financial stability given the $17.7 million budget shortfall the district is facing?
Chase: The Washington State Constitution mandates that public education is the paramount duty of the state. I have fought for fully funding McCleary and am glad that the legislature increased funding for schools in the 2019 session. However, there is more work ahead to fully fund special education, smaller class sizes and support professionals. Hard decisions need to be made about how the district spends the funds we have.
My first priority is in the classroom. During times of financial shortfalls, I believe the school district must prioritize lower class sizes and teacher support.
It is time that school boards across the state weigh in on the need for tax reform that is based on equity, justice and fairness. Washington State has the most regressive tax structure in the United States, allowing generous tax exemptions for the wealthiest at the expense of our students and teachers. I am committed to meeting our funding responsibilities.
Q: What ideas do you have for addressing the more than 500 homeless students in the Edmonds School District?
Chase: The 500 number is only the tip of the iceberg in the total number of homeless families in our community. Students are homeless because their families do not have sufficient resources to meet the high cost of housing in our communities. We need to build 500 family housing units for these families and provide services to help them get back on their feet.
Once families are housed and have a support system around them, the challenge of homeless students will not seem so daunting and they can focus on their studies.
State and federal governments have tax credit programs to encourage the building of affordable homes. Other countries provide enough housing for their residents and we owe it to our students and families to do the same.
Q: How would you work with district staff to encourage and promote fairness and equity for all of the district’s students?
Chase: The Edmonds School District is known for its stellar program for diversity, equity and justice for all of our students. In addition, in my role as Chair of the Snohomish County Human Rights Commission, I bring a values-based strategy founded and framed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Rights of the Child, and the Declaration on Cultural Diversity.
Every single student in our district needs to know they possess human rights as much as anyone else. We must continue to improve on classroom policies and practices that improve inclusiveness and implement policies at the administrative level to guarantee fairness and equality.
Q: A 2017 Washington State Department of Children, Youth and Families study showed that the Edmonds School District is serving only 28 percent of students eligible for early childhood education assistance. What ideas do you have for expanding the District’s Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program to accommodate more students?
Chase: Expanding early childhood education assistance requires a reliable funding source. Once again, we must have fair taxation reform to increase the number of people and businesses who pay taxes. Taxation of all property in the state’s property tax base would lower our individual tax payments and increase the funding for Early Childhood Education and Assistance.
Q: The district has received feedback from the community that it should have handled the staffing reductions due to budget cuts differently. What ideas do you have for helping to assure teachers’ job security in times of financial stress?
Chase: Edmonds School District is deeply indebted to the professionalism and commitment of its teachers. The school board needs to adopt clear priorities for funding education. First and foremost, we need to clearly state our commitment to small class sizes taught by well qualified and teachers who are compensated commensurate with their qualifications.
Secondly, when new programs are adopted, they should be clearly vetted by the individuals and programs that will be impacted. We need to reach agreement and consensus on what the budget impact will be before making decisions that affect peoples’ lives.
Well-informed people working together can reach reasonable policy decisions for our students. I am committed to working with understanding and respect for teachers during trying times.
Q: Anything else you’d like to add?
Chase: As a school board director I will continue to champion the needs of children and youth. I will continue to hold the institution of education to the highest standards and also hold myself to this challenge. I value independent critical thinking and try to ask the tough questions. I feel that I bring a sense of fairness to the board. If I am re-elected, I will continue to be a responsible steward of our public dollars and advocate for all students. Public education and our children are our shared treasure and future.
Q: Where can readers go to learn more about your campaign? (website and other contact information if applicable)