Carin Chase, left, Nicholas Logan, Nancy Katims and Nicholas Jenkins

Carin Chase, left, Nicholas Logan, Nancy Katims and Nicholas Jenkins

Edmonds school board candidates focus on funding, core subjects

A projected $15 million budget deficit means finances — and looming cuts — are top of mind for candidates.

EDMONDS — Two Edmonds school board incumbents face challengers in this year’s election.

As in other school board races, finances were on everyone’s mind. The Edmonds School District had projected a $15 million budget deficit for this year.

Carin Chase, who was elected to the board in 2015, faces Nicholas Logan for director of District 1, representing much of Edmonds and part of Mountlake Terrace. Chase has raised almost $2,000 in campaign contributions this year. Logan has reported no contributions.

Nancy Katims was elected in 2019. Nicholas Jenkins, a political newcomer, is running against her to represent District 5, generally west of Highway 99 and north of 196th Street SW. Neither candidate has reported any campaign contributions.

Each position comes with a four-year term.

District 1

Carin Chase

Carin Chase

Carin Chase

Chase, a legislative representative for the state School Directors’ Association, believes Washington’s funding model does not reflect the reality of schools today.

In her view, the number of staff members the state funds per school is out of step with the real need. The minimum allocation of teaching assistants per 400-student elementary school, for example, is less than 1. Chase intends to lobby state lawmakers to rethink the funding model in her role as legislative representative for the district.

As far as the district’s immediate financial reality, the board has to approach budget cuts “collaboratively,” she said, with input from staff and community members.

Chase, an executive board member of the 32nd District Democrats, noted the equity training the board goes through.

“We’re an all-white board and our district is majority students of color,” she said. “So we need to think about how we bring our life experiences to the decisions we’re making.”

The board has partnered with the Teachers of Color Foundation, for example, to help a more diverse pool of teachers get certified. To support LGBTQ+ students, the board makes sure everyone can use the bathroom aligning with their gender identity, Chase said.

She stressed the importance of collaboration between school board members, even on issues where they disagree.

“On the board, you don’t work in isolation,” she said. “Each individual brings their different strengths.”

Chase’s endorsements include the Edmonds Education Association, the Alliance for Gun Responsibility and the Snohomish County Democrats.

Nicholas Logan

Nicholas Logan

Nicholas Logan

In his statement in the voters’ pamphlet, Logan said he was “incredibly invested” in the district’s operation as a parent of three children in Edmonds schools.

Major issues for Logan include school safety, “a lowering of general educational standards and teaching for a test and not for life skills,” he wrote.

“I’d like to help figure out how to get replacement schools built, how to give schools more authority when dealing with student issues, to boldly try new ideas in the district, and never approve a budget that is not fully funded,” he wrote.

Logan, who didn’t respond to interview requests, wrote he was an IT consultant, a small business owner and a U.S. Army veteran. He listed participation in Terrace Park Elementary School’s Parent Teacher Association and roles coaching basketball and soccer.

District 5

Nancy Katims

Nancy Katims

Nancy Katims

Katims, the current board president, has decades of experience in education, including 17 years in the district’s student learning department as a program director.

“From my work throughout my career, I am very well steeped in understanding teaching and learning and instruction,” she said.

Since she’s been on the board, Katims said she has expanded her understanding of the operational side of schools.

Like Chase, she believes the state school funding formulas are “obsolete.” Among her concerns are the staff-to-student ratios and what the state considers an average teacher salary, which she said is too low for Edmonds schools given the number of experienced teachers.

Advocacy is one of the school board’s roles, Katims said. That can include meetings of the state School Directors’ Association to come up with priorities for lobbying the Legislature. She said she is one of several school leaders who has met with state lawmakers to discuss funding and other issues.

When cuts have to happen, Katims said the board’s priorities are keeping classroom staff and keeping class sizes as low as possible. She said the district has been able to partner with outside organizations this year to help fill the gaps, noting they’ve gotten some money from the Edmonds City Council.

Katims also emphasized that quality early education is critical. She’d like to see the district adopt a Transitional Kindergarten program, which prepares kids for grade school, though she noted the district would need state financial support to make that viable.

Her endorsements include the Edmonds Education Association, the National Women’s Political Caucus of Washington and the Snohomish County Democrats.

Nicholas Jenkins

Nicholas Jenkins

Nicholas Jenkins

For Jenkins, it’s simple: Schools need to focus on English, math and science. He also mentioned music and art.

Most everything else is a distraction, in his opinion. Concerns about school safety, for instance, are overblown in Jenkins’ view. He has two sons who graduated high school in the district and “no one got shot at going to school,” he said.

“You don’t need to raise kids to think they’re in some kind of war zone,” he added.

Schools are “bogged down” with discussion of social problems. That means “you’ll have children who are brilliant at being able to repeat the religious theology of whatever gender equality idea (there) is today or whatever racial equality theory is going around today, but they won’t be able to reason.”

Going back to core subjects could also be a solution to declining school enrollment, he suggested, because parents will stop pulling their kids out of school.

Regarding the budget, “you just strike out the line items,” he said. “Is this related to English, math or science? A principle basis to go through it, so that no one’s offended.”

Jenkins, a civil defense lawyer, said he has defended teachers sued in special education discrimination cases.

“I love teachers,” he said. “I’ve loved working with teachers. They’re great. They actually care.”

Ballots are due Nov. 7.

Sophia Gates: 425-339-3035; sophia.gates@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @SophiaSGates.

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