Stakeholders upset about $15m budget cuts at Edmonds schools

Apr 19, 2023, 10:01 AM | Updated: 10:55 am

student band...

Many in the Edmonds school district believe the arts should not be part of the proposed budget cuts. (Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

Students, parents, and teachers in Edmonds are upset about $15 million in proposed budget cuts, and they let the school board know it Tuesday night.

Public comments lasted for two hours. The reductions would impact many sectors of the school district including special education.

“Our students have a fundamental right to access education alongside their general education peers,” a Sherwood Elementary special education teacher said. “To push students with neuro and developmental differences out of their current social circles and communities is both wrong and incredibly harmful.”

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“I don’t speak in hyperbole when I say that social workers save lives. Again, and again, and again,” one social worker said.

The proposed cuts would significantly impact arts and music programs across the district, slashing at least two music classes at every high school.

At Mountlake Terrace High School, the proposed cuts would end its only choir, two band classes, and a drama class.

“As a student heavily invested in the arts, it really pains my soul to prioritize the arts over others, especially sports, during budget cuts because it feels like a lack of representation for people who are trying to represent themselves publically,” one student said.

“I was not in a good space mentally and the band program at the middle school especially gave me all my close friends. I’m still close friends with all of them. That’s what got me through those tough times,” Ryan, a senior and music student at the school, told KIRO 7 News. “I’ve been able to live through these programs.”

Band students at Mountlake Terrace High School have been playing outside campus since Friday, surrounded by supporters demonstrating against the cuts with picket signs in hand.

“Coming out of the pandemic, these kids were in really rough shape. We heard kids saying they didn’t want to be here anymore,” Lori Reese, a parent of a Mountlake Terrace High School student. “It’s the music that saved them. These kids need this program.”

“These are the soft-spoken kids, the quiet, the reserved, the frightened,” Jill Espitia, the president of the Mountlake Terrace High School Music Boosters, said on Tuesday. “They need this more than ever, especially following the pandemic. And the district is wanting to take that away. They can find other places to find cuts. They need to dig deeper.”

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The school board has already announced it will close the Woodway Center, which is attended by preschool and kindergarten students.

The cuts are due to a 1,000+ student decline in enrollment over the past several years. That will lower the funding the district receives from the state by more than $12 million, according to the Edmonds School District.

Another meeting is set for next week.

KIRO 7 News contributed to this report

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Stakeholders upset about $15m budget cuts at Edmonds schools