From left, Edmonds School District Director candidates are: (District 2) Ann McMurray, Mitchell Below; (District 4) Deborah Kilgore, Cathy Baylor.

From left, Edmonds School District Director candidates are: (District 2) Ann McMurray, Mitchell Below; (District 4) Deborah Kilgore, Cathy Baylor.

4 candidates seeking 2 positions on Edmonds School Board

It’s the largest district in the county, with an enrollment of 20,534 students.

LYNNWOOD — Responding to the academic needs of an increasingly diverse student body and adjusting to the new way of paying for education in Washington are some of the issues being discussed by Edmonds School Board candidates.

Voters will choose among four people running to fill two of the five seats on the school board.

With an enrollment of 20,534 students, Edmonds is the county’s largest school district. It has an annual operating budget of $283 million.

In the District 2 race, incumbent Ann McMurray is being challenged by first-time candidate Mitchell Below.

Below said one of the reasons he’s running is McMurray has been unopposed for three consecutive elections.

Below said he has followed the budget negotiations that took place in the Legislature as it struggled to find ways to comply with the state Supreme Court’s decision requiring the state to fully fund public education.

“I want to have a hand in deciding how that money will be spent,” he said.

Below said he hopes that the contract negotiated with the Edmonds Education Association in August will help resolve issues such as overcrowding and give teachers more time and resources to do their jobs well.

McMurray said even though she’s been on the school board 12 years, she feels compelled to run again, in part to see what effect the state’s new public education funding system will have on the school district.

She said she wonders what will happen as the state increases property taxes to help fund public education, reducing the amount that can be raised locally through levies.

The school district’s demographics are changing, she said. It no longer has a majority white enrollment.

A consultant recently made 26 recommendations on how to advance the work of being culturally inclusive. “I’d like to see it prioritized and advanced over the next four years,” she said.

The District 4 race will determine who will succeed Susan Phillips, president of the school board, who decided not to seek re-election.

It’s the first time both Cathy Baylor and Deborah Kilgore have run for public office.

Baylor advanced to the general election by beating out a third candidate, Cindy Sackett, by just seven votes.

Baylor’s father served on the tribal council of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes in Montana. As a Native American, she said she feels that the school district must close opportunity gaps for people of color.

The school district is working hard to improve opportunities for students of color and those living in poverty, she said.

“Because my background is so strongly centered in minority culture, this is profoundly important to me to get on the board and work on this,” she said.

Having specialists to reach out to families is key in bringing about change, she said. The school district’s study found “if you don’t engage the parents, it’s not going to work.”

Kilgore said she’d like to explore expanding the number of academic pathways that are available to middle and high school students.

She said she’d like to see the district review what is offered and how those courses could improve children’s futures beyond high school.

Kilgore said she’d like to ensure that girls are getting opportunities to try male-dominated areas of study.

Although girls do well on science and math courses “for some reason we’re still not getting the same number of women going into engineering and computer science that I think we ought to see.”

Kilgore said she wants to ensure that the district is offering every child “a range of interesting and productive educational pathways.”

Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486; salyer@heraldnet.com.

DISTRICT 2

• Name: Mitchell Below

Age: 48

Experience: Content editor/developer, retirement plan administrator

Website: www.below4board.org

Name: Ann McMurray

Age: 60

Experience: Fifteen years on the school district’s Citizen Planning Committee; 12 years as a member of the School Board.

Website: None.

DISTRICT 4

Name: Cathy Baylor

Age: 60

Experience: Independent piano teacher

Website: cathybaylorschools.com

Name: Deborah Kilgore

Age: 53

Experience: Research scientist, University of Washington

Website: www.DeborahKilgore.com

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