LYNNWOOD, Wash., November 12, 2021 – On Tuesday the Edmonds School District revealed its 2021-2026 Strategic Plan in a presentation by Superintendent Gustavo Balderas, which is still in the discussion process, and unanimously approved its 2022 Legislative Platform, both of which focus on equity, diversity, and inclusion.
The Strategic Plan was divided into three sections: The student, the staff, and the family and community. Much of the district’s focus included ways to make every student feel a sense of belonging and centered the staff and family objectives around that goal. As Superintendent Balderas explained, “That’s something that we truly believe in, and this is something we’re going to strive for.”
For students and staff, the district focused on developing “culturally and linguistically affirming practices,” as the Strategic Plan reads, which the board discussed at length.
In order to develop culturally affirming practices, the staff plan aims to “provide enrichment, training, and professional development for all staff members to create the conditions that empower students to grow, thrive, and achieve each year.” The plan also details that it will potentially change hiring practices in order to “diversify staff to reflect the diversity of our student population.”
This change in hiring practices comes amidst major understaffing across various areas in the school district, which Superintendent Balderas discussed in his presentation. The school board is still experiencing shortages in the following areas and positions: teachers, substitutes, float positions, special education, EL, Spanish, health/fitness, custodial, food service, maintenance, paraeducator, office personnel, nursing, and more.
The board also discussed what they described as “ethnic studies,” a term not included in the plan but that was referenced multiple times. Through their discussion, the board indicated these “ethnic studies” are not necessarily specific courses but systematic practices implemented across all areas of learning. But because the term was not included or defined in the plan, confusion arose.
School Board President Deborah Kilgore said, “There’s some confusion also about language. I mean, when we think of, many of us, think of “ethnic studies,” we’re thinking about a course versus a programmatic move. So that’s why when I read the “culturally affirming,” I forgot what the specific language was. [“Ethnic studies”] seems to represent the courses plus integrating the material in the various other areas. . . . It seems representative of what we were trying to do.”
Superintendent Balderas requested that during the revision process, the board “include some language that does state, specifically, to include “ethnic studies” . . . and from there, we develop an action plan underneath that that actually deals with ethnic studies and the K12 rollout because I know there’s a lot of work that’s been done in that area.”
The school board plans to discuss and finalize the language of the Strategic Plan at the November 23 meeting.
The board also unanimously approved their 2022 Legislative Platform, which includes similar goals, such as their “Equity in Education through Updated Staffing Allocations” goal.
The equity goal aims “to differentiate the distribution of resources to close opportunity gaps, ensure equitable learning opportunities, and fair treatment for each student by using the prototypical funding model as the base for staffing allocations.”
The platform does not detail how the district plans to “differentiate the distribution of resources.”
The Edmonds School Board also approved the following agenda items (all unanimously):
- Policy for Reimbursement for Travel Expenses
- School Improvement Plans
- $1,000,000 Additional Budget Authorization for 2021 Safety and Security Upgrades Project
- $1,000,000 Additional Budget Authorization for the HVAC/Lighting/Roof Upgrades at the District Educational Service Center
- Resolution #21-32 Certification of 2022 Excess Property Taxes
- Resolution #21-29 February 2022 Educational Programs & Operations Levy