Budget Cuts Bring Community Together

Members of the Edmonds School District protesting the budget cuts in the board room.

Leading up to the school board meeting on April 18, the discussion about budget cuts became a whirlwind of outcry at Terrace and other schools in the Edmonds School District (ESD). On that night, students, teachers, parents, alumni and community members came together at the district board meeting to make their voices heard. Terrace band students wore bright red pep band shirts, normally only seen during football games, and played music outside of the building starting around 5 p.m., an hour before the meeting began, as students, teachers and parents rallied around them.
What is normally an hour-long meeting turned into six, as the main room became crowded with more than 100 people signed up to speak to the board with their concerns about the projected cuts and the effects they would have on students. Many had to go into other rooms to watch the meeting, some stayed home to watch, and others simply stood in the halls or outside. Several parents, teachers, alumni and students passionately spoke about their own experiences with the many programs that could be cut in the 2023-24 school year, along with the impact of bigger class sizes, and how different going to school next year would be with the changes.
This came as a result of major circulation of the projected cuts by the district due to a shortfall in state funding correlated to enrollment and pandemic funding.
Following the meeting, ESD posted a website page to answer common questions and allow for submissions of additional questions regarding the next school year’s funding. The budget is still in planning and even after a decision being made by the board, there are still factors that would impact the budget in a way it must adjust.

“In terms of changes that can happen right up to and including the start of school, this occurs EVERY YEAR because of enrollment fluctuations and life choices of staff. We don’t like it, but being an organization here to serve the public, we are responsive to the human situations (e.g., moving in and out of the district, last minute staff retirements/resignations /leaves) that ultimately affect various aspects of classrooms and schools.” Nancy Katims said.
Terrace’s performing arts programs, band, theater and choir, is expecting to see a major loss with the district budget shortfalls. The expected cuts will lead symphonic band and Jazz 2 to merge, and would leave the only percussion, choir and after school theater classes out of the picture. Terrace’s music boosters group posted online and on their Instagram account, @mthsmusicboosters, for weeks over the concern with budget cuts on the band program. Parents and students advocated to stop the cuts by taking action, with students playing music in the morning, emailing board members and gaining support for the program from retired White House drummer Justin DeCioccio and Seattle Sounders FC player Christian Roldan.
Many students from around the district spoke on the importance of the arts programs offered in high school, bringing community, passion and joy.
The cuts would also impact Terrace’s STEM program and other CTE classes, with a loss in funding due to the 2023-2024 schedule change decreasing the minutes of class time and subsequently decreasing CTE funding. These losses will result in some classes being cut, such as anatomy and physiology, which will put the teachers of these classes’ jobs at risk based on the schools need for teachers in classes.
The district had also made cuts to the jobs of integral social workers. That impact became known as many Latino Student Union (LSU) members spoke on the importance of Terrace’s own social worker, Victoria Castaneda, and her aid to students, especially students of color and from lower income households.

Beyond electives, the shortfall in funding leaves some teachers to be surplused, meaning they would no longer be teaching a full schedule of five classes a day at one school, and may only teach a few based on each school’s needs. For high school students though, there will be an increase in class sizes with the decrease in teachers. Although the funding shortfall is due to reduction in student numbers, the district is seeing those numbers fall in elementary schools. As the lower elementary school grade levels have stricter guidelines to keep class sizes smaller, the effects of decreased funding is seen more in middle and high schools.
On April 25, the week following the initial board meeting, what would have been another normal board meeting lasted four hours, with people signing up to speak along with students rallying and playing music.
“I have the feeling that social media hoped to just blow this up into a huge, much bigger thing than it really is,” board President Nancy Katims said towards the end of the meeting.
The MTHS Music Boosters posted what Katims said on their Instagram account, adding “We used social media to organize, advocate, and bring transparency to this process. It worked! It’s a big deal!”
This platform has been effective in getting the word out as well as having students share their stories, including the achievements of the ESD music programs. Still, the initial budget proposals indicate severe or even total cuts to music classes across all high schools and middle schools.
Moving forward, the district has changed next year’s schedule, hoping to change state funding levels. Middle and elementary schools are being pushed back by 10 minutes, and an additional seven minutes will be added for high schools.
“The district and the Edmonds Education Association collaborated on this solution to help mitigate the impacts of these challenging budget times,” the district said in an email sent out to students and families.
In addition, the district is forming a joint committee of staff and families to “examine our start and end times.”