Meet the Edmonds School District Board of Directors candidates: Nancy Katims, Position 5

Nancy Katims

The Aug. 1 primary election includes three people running for Edmonds School District Board of Directors Position 5. To help voters learn more about the candidates, the My Neighborhood News Network sent a questionnaire to each candidate campaigning for a board seat.

We will post these as we receive them.

Note that while each school board position represents a specific geographic area, all voters living in the district vote for all positions.

Nancy Katims is seeking reelection to the board’s District 5 seat. She spent two decades working as a program director in the district’s student learning department. Katims was first elected in 2019 and currently serves as school board president. She is running against Arjun Kathuria and Nicholas Jenkins. The top two vote getters in August advance to the Nov. 7 general election.

Q: Why are you running to be an Edmonds School Board Director? What do you hope to accomplish during your time as a board director?

I am deeply committed to the success of all students. In the three and a half years that I have served in my first term as school board director, I am proud of what we have accomplished despite the unprecedented challenges we faced during this time.

  • We kept our students and staff safe, we provided technology-based teaching resources for our teachers and a computer and connectivity to all our students.
  • I led the search process for a highly qualified superintendent who is committed to leading the district for the long term.
  • I helped establish measurable goals and a strategic plan to hold the district accountable for student success, which was a major objective of my first term.
  • And most recently, I’ve fought to shield students from the budget impacts of inadequate state funding.

I am running again because there is so much more work to be done. Much of this work is detailed in our five-year strategic plan, which describes specific measurable goals for our students, our staff and our families and community. I understand these goals and the action plans designed to help meet these goals, and I am well positioned to monitor the district’s progress and to hold district leadership accountable for meeting these goals.

Q: What experience would you bring as a board director and how is it relevant to the position?

I have devoted my entire career to improving educational opportunities for students, with 40-plus years of experience working in public education, including nearly two decades in the Edmonds School District’s student learning department. This depth of experience provided me with an unparalleled understanding of what effective teaching and learning looks like and how to support teachers in helping all students succeed in the classroom.

For the past three-and-a-half years, I have served in the role of school board director, and for a year and a half I’ve undertaken the responsibilities of school board president. Through this experience I have deepened my understanding of the role of a school board director, and I have broadened my understanding of how schools and districts operate effectively, including budgets, facilities, transportation, legal and contractual issues and so much more.

In short, the school board needs experienced, knowledgeable leaders like myself, and I’m more committed than ever to fighting for our students, staff and families.

Q: How would you work with district staff to encourage and promote fairness and equality for all of the district’s students?

Equity is a key foundational board policy in the district. Equity means that all students get what they need to succeed, which is not the same thing for every student. Students from low-income homes often have different needs than students who are not from low-income homes. For example – waivers on fees, policies on homework that acknowledge that some students must work after school or take care of their younger siblings and similar supports.

Our goal is that all our students feel that they belong, that they are valued, respected, protected and treated with dignity. This is especially important for our students from traditionally marginalized groups, which might relate to racial or ethnic backgrounds, language differences, disabilities, socio-economic status, gender identity, sexual orientation and more.

Some strategies that can help improve equity in our schools.

  • providing training in culturally responsive practices to all levels of school and district staff,
  • encouraging all schools to have a goal in their School Improvement Plan regarding the development and maintenance of a school climate that is inclusive, welcoming and supportive for all students no matter their background,
  • conducting a regular student survey to assess the degree to which students feel that they are treated fairly and following up as appropriate based on the results and
  • closely reviewing student data regarding the extent to which students’ academic and social-emotional needs are being met, looking at the results not only for overall groups of students at each grade level, but also broken down by demographic information and following up as needed.

Q: As the district faces a $15 million budget deficit in the 2023-24 school year, how will you work to mitigate cuts to music, social support and special education programs?

Districts across Washington state are suffering from inadequate state funding, which is largely the result of current state formulas for budget allocations being based on obsolete formulas. As a school board director, I will continue my advocacy with state legislators and working with my board colleagues and partners across the state to push for changes to how the state funds PreK-12 public education.

In addition, I plan to continue to work with local community partners to seek additional funding to help fill gaps. An example of such a partnership is the recent unanimously-approved funding from the Edmonds City Council to support the continuation of student intervention coordinators in our three smallest schools for which the district had been unable to provide funding for the coming school year.

Q: How will you work to prioritize students’ mental health?

As school board director, I will continue to support having mental health professionals providing services to our students, including counselors, psychologists, student intervention coordinators, social workers and family resource advocates. As we advocate with our state legislators for additional funding to meet today’s educational needs, we must emphasize that supporting mental and social-emotional health is an integral part of how basic education should be defined and funded.

Q: What ideas do you have for improving the district’s high school graduation rates?

One strategy that the district will be using next year is to keep class sizes low in some key ninth-grade courses in which a higher percentage of students tend to struggle to pass. Research shows that when students lose credits in freshman year, they are more likely to not graduate. The strategy is that in these key courses, teachers will be able to give closer attention to students who, with the extra support, will be more likely to earn credit in these courses.

Another approach that I think will help improve our graduation rate is to develop policies that will bring consistency to grading practices in our middle and high schools. These policies will need to be developed with input from teachers as well as school and district administrators and will need to be based on research on best practices in grading. The goal will be to ensure that students receive grades that fairly and accurately reflect their knowledge and skills in the content of each course, and that students with similar performance would receive similar grades in that course from teacher to teacher.

Q: According to a recent review, the district’s special education faculty and staff have cited a lack of communication at a district level as a main concern. As a board director, how will you work to close this communication gap and support faculty and staff?

In May 2023, district staff received the findings of a comprehensive review of the district’s special education program, conducted by American Institutes for Research (AIR), a well-respected national research and evaluation firm. The report details seven very specific recommendations for the district to follow, several of which directly address the communication gap. My job as school board director will be to monitor the progress being made on these recommendations, to ask relevant questions along the way, to hold district staff accountable for implementing these recommendations, to seek data to evaluate the effectiveness of the work designed to ameliorate the issues, and to expect follow-up if the issues are not improved in a timely manner.

Q: What ideas do you have for addressing the hundreds of homeless students in the Edmonds School District?

During my first term as school board director, we have initiated two significant projects to help our homeless students. One of these initiatives has been the creation of what is called Edmonds Hub, which offers academic support, Wi-Fi, technology support, meals and other resources to help students who are experiencing housing insecurity. The Edmonds Hub also offers resources to families of these students such as laundry facilities, food pantry items, hygiene products and school supplies. Additionally, the district provides transportation to the Edmonds Hub for students who qualify.

I also voted to approve a partnership with Housing Hope, in which the district is providing land within walking distance to one of our elementary schools for the development of a housing complex designed to give priority housing to families of district students experiencing housing insecurity. Planning and development is already underway for this project.

Q: Where can readers go to learn more about your campaign? (website and other contact information if applicable)

— By Cody Sexton

  1. Nancy Katims is a tireless , devoted board member whose credentials and experience make her the ideal person for this position. She has proven over and over that she is committed to our Edmonds school district. We would be fortunate to have her serve again.

    1. No vote form our family for Nancy Katims. She has supported the destruction of the music programs in Edmonds School District. Hundreds of residents, parents and students came to Edmonds School Board meetings. Students were addressing the Board, pleading, some were crying to keep the music education. The response was the music education was just an elective, as anything else and would be cut. 60% of Arts Performances classes were cut at Mountlake Terrace High School. While the Board was decreasing classes, they were combining music classes and increasing music class sizes to 67-81 students per class in Edmonds School District. Katims’ statement about providing a safe environment for students and teachers is questionable, because the Board has been cutting security officers at schools. The teachers and students were addressing safety issues at Board meetings. Please listen to Board meetings recordings and see how Katims’ statements in Election pamphlet and this article are different from what was going on at School Board meetings and what Nancy Katims really supports. Under her leadership, Arts programs and IEP programs were cut, the class sizes were increased.

  2. I appreciate Nancy’s leadership during difficult budgetary times. I also appreciate that she’s will to stick with our district, captaining our ship through rough waters.

    It’s essential to keep her wealth of experience on the board. School districts veer into trouble when they are lead by brand new board members who don’t understand the complicated nastiness of school funding.

    1. Knowledge & experience is great but sometimes it’s better to bring in new blood with fresh ideas. I feel like her statement is filled with all the latest statements & phrases that many politicians & media use to convince people they’re “woke”. It was overly polished & wordy & that doesn’t always mean they’re the best fit for the job.

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