Commentary: Save arts and music in the Edmonds School District

To Edmonds School District officials and members of the School Board,

As members of the broad and diverse community served by the Edmonds School District, we wish to register our distress at the pending cuts to arts and music programs. You, as educators, know as well as we do that art, music, drama and other arts are vital to a full educational experience. This is not merely our heartfelt conviction; it is a fact supported by rigorous research. For example, a recent large scale randomized controlled study by Brookings in 42 Houston schools found that students in arts programs had significantly fewer disciplinary infractions, significantly better writing scores, and elevated compassion for others compared to the control groups.

We do understand that schools today face competing priorities and serious financial pressures. We, and others in the community, are prepared to support the continuation of vital arts education, and the retention of dedicated and valuable teaching staff, while the district works through its budget difficulties. But we expect, and insist, that the schools we are committed to support with our dollars and our votes plan to restore funding of these invaluable arts programs as soon as possible.

— By Edmonds School District parents and citizens

Dr. Jack Faris
Joe DeMiero
Kathy Liu
Daniel Johnson
Ryan Crowther
Nancy Ekrem
Erika Barnett
Nate Omdal
Jonathan Gipaya
Dee Daniels
Brett Holt
Carolyn Harvey
Daniel & Jennifer Castle
Paul Burton
Tara Fly
George Smith
Kim Siegrist
Tiffany Hanson
Deborah McCarthy
Jennifer Coons
Mark Coons
Jacob Coons
Nathan Coons
Dave Whiteman
Maya Hemachandra
Scott Johnson
Jennifer Tait
Thera & Joshua Knapp
Rick Steves
Jeremey Shultz
Margaret Shultz
Paul Burton
Michael & Bonnie Britt
Leah Jones
Michele Grant
Rae Ann Walthers
April Kaivo
Erica Dearstyne
Kristen Ho
Taj Isono
Michelle Gordon
Kim Varner
Erich Simmons
Emiko Burns
Kimberly Lee
Kristina Jipson
Dennis & Charlene Handa
Darin Faul
Vince DeMiero
Dennis & Charlene Handa
Rachel Powell
Kathy Henning
Michael Williams
Desmond Williams
Maysy Williams
Angela Johnston
Sarah Richàrd
Linda Grez
Rebecca & Shaun Hulbert
Lynn & Frank Blosser
Katrina Paulette Navarro
Jessica Brady
Sharon Ryder
Toni Bosman
Melissa & Tim Reed
Jenine Rittierodt
Chelsea Stanciu
Sally Ralston
Rachael & John Garrette
Deirdre K. & Raven Mimura
David Gravender
Synnove Tusvik Johnson
Shannon & Shane McDowell
Jeanette Green
Candy & Charlie Gaul
Carrie Bulmer-King
Steve Treseler
Lynn C. Treseler
Georgi Jenkins
Lynda Gable
Robin Rousu
Mike Byers
Nathan Irby
Emily Jeffers
Bryan & Zoe Manzo
Sarah Phin
Sherry Chitwood
Mike Hayford
Will Harvey
Ami Samuels
Karl & Shawna Bogren
Kendra Anderson
Vicki Lockhart
Linaya Bunbury
Matt & Sarah Rudberg
Sheryl Copeland
Ryan Copeland
Reese Copeland
Kandra Miller
Andy Roben
Sophie Roben
Jack Roben
Chad James
Charles James
Cascadia Youth Symphony
Leah Park
Traci Thorpe
Tjelle Johnson
Susie Cover
Jack Roben
Cascadia Youth Symphony
Leah Park
Traci Thorpe
Tjelle Johnson
Maria Patricia Espinoza Landa
Maria Lourdes Espinoza Landa
Diorella Soriano
Fanta Sillah
Tara Fly
Agi VanHorn
Matt VanHorn
Siana VanHorn
Nikolai VanHorn
Patti Case
Rachel Yoder
Audrey Choe
Chris Choe
Rebecca L Felman
Janet Pope
Lauren Park
Randa Zaitz
Dave Dolacky
Angie Acheson
Jennifer Thomas

  1. YES! Music, drama and other arts programs are not extraneous follies. These school subjects develop life skills, reveal hidden talents, and develop teamwork. When I see my grandsons analyze, practice and finally master their music lessons, it’s like watching them solve a complex math problem. But it sounds much better than algebra!

    And, so important to kids navigating the challenges of school, it helps them find their “tribe”, a place of connection and accomplishment, an anchor in big school that can help steady them as they face the many challenges of growing up.

    1. It seems the arts always gets gutted before any sports!
      They’re equally needed and important in the growth of our lives! it’s time to cut them equally period, Growing up I had the opportunity to do both, I learned many things
      and what Susan stated, we all have to find our “Tribe”.
      Is spot on, What does the District have to offer these kids
      To replace what your taking away? This also makes Edmonds less enticing to families looking to move here.
      I guess it’s poor money management by the District
      as we have approved school bonds for the past 35 years and now we are upside down millions of dollars. How did this happen???? Is the district Administration as lean as it can be?
      There’s plenty of other community sports available outside of school but that not the same for the Arts, It’s time to start cutting some School Sports equal to what your cutting from the Arts. If I had children still in school here , I might consider moving to a district that still offers what you’re taking away. There is no way to know the negative affect this is going to have on the Students of Edmonds! There seems to be more folks making a living in music and the arts then in Sports.

  2. This is a very impressive list! My husband and I attended schools in the ESD and graduated in 1972. Our children attended and graduated also from WHS and EWHS. Now four of our grandchildren attend in the district and are involved in the arts and music programs. As far back as I can remember the threat of cutting these programs has been an ongoing issue with the district. I can’t understand why this is always dangled like a carrot by the district. Music and the arts play an important part in our all children’s lives. It gives many a way to express themselves the way other children do through sports or technology. I applaud the Foundation for the ESD in trying to save the program by raising money. But this will not be sustaining. And we will continue year after year with the threat of these cuts from the district. With all the taxes we pay into the school district, it is shameful. Let’s start by cutting back on the Edmonds School District Administration. Let’s get an accounting of the salaries that are paid out to administrators, teachers and pension funds and make some cuts. Get back to basics and cut out the social programs. Save the music and the arts programs. It is so needed for our kids in today’s world.

  3. Maybe someone of the listed group can help us all better understand the elements of school funding. My understanding is the state funds districts around $15,000/child.
    1. These funds cannot be used sports and other extracurricular activities???
    2. Districts are also allowed to raise $2500/child for extracurricular activities, like sports the debate club, chess club and other such activities???
    3. Classroom Arts and Music are to be funded from the $15,000???
    4. Enrollment has been down in the lower grades for the last few years by nearly 1000 students??? But a slight improvement was shown for this year but not back to historic levels??
    5. Declining birth rates and other emerging education methods account for reduced enrollment???
    6. The $10.6m budget shortfall is equal to the state not funding for 700 kids???

    It would be helpful for us to understand the answers to these questions so we can sort out how to help.
    My life was changed by music evolvement from playing the autoharp in the 2nd grade in Anacortes up to and including marching in the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl while at the U of W. I was not so lucky with my Art exposure.

    The next budget issue for ESD may come when enrollment and maintenance costs for our older buildings raises the question of consolation. Let’s start working on that now!

  4. Please! Add my name to the list. As a retired elementary Edmonds School District teacher, I know the incalculable value of art and music instruction from the earliest years through high school. Both my adult children graduated from Madrona K-8 and Edmonds-Woodway, and were fortunate to receive excellent arts instruction all through their schooling. My son received a full scholarship to Berklee College of Music in Boston and is a professional musician. My daughter received a 90% scholarship to The New School in NYC, and currently has her own design business. They would not be where they are today without their public school experience. How many children like them will not be able to fulfill their promise if we cut these excellent programs? In particular, we are a national leader in music education and it is a terrible waste to squander this wealth for our children.

  5. I do not believe the edmonds school district staff and superintendent have provided the school board members enough alternatives on what other programs or staff might have be cut or eliminated in the process. We believe the district needs to be efficient with our tax dollars and should investigate many different alternatives for the people to determine for themselves what are the best cuts to make to the budget or programs and staff are dismissed. We encourage the school board directors to exercise their authority over the staff of the district and not let them dictate to you what decisions will be made about our district. We also support all of these people and organizations who expect their voice to be heard by the school board. We demand that other less important departments or positions be cut first like DEI (diversity equity and inclusion), SEL (social emotional learning) and i-ready. We believe that these programs and positions in the district are less important to the well being and success in and beyond school. These are only a couple of examples of alternative departments, programs, or positions that could be cut or eliminated to help balance the budget. The people will not only accept one option in cutting the budget, we should be shown many different alternatives before anything gets cut.

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