The Aug. 6 primary election includes multiple people running for Edmonds School District Board of Directors positions. To help voters learn more about the candidates, the My Neighborhood News Network sent a questionnaire to each candidate appearing on the primary ballot.
We will post these as we receive them.
Note that while each school board position represents a specific area, all voters living in the district get to vote for all positions.
Casey Auve is a member of the Rotary Club of Lynnwood and the Foundation for Edmonds School District. He is hoping to fill the District 5 position currently held by Diana White who is not seeking re-election. Auve is one of four candidates vying for the position including Lisa Hunnewell, Nancy Katims and Rina Redrup.
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?
Auve: I’m really proud of the work I’ve done as a member and president of Lynnwood Rotary, and as a trustee and board president of the Foundation for Edmonds School District. I have served in both organizations for nine years and eight years respectively. An element that I am really proud of is being a foundation board member who was instrumental in governing the foundation through rapid growth. The foundation has grown from a small foundation with only one program to a million-dollar foundation that administers 14 programs.
The foundation works closely with the district’s leadership and school board to understand where there are gaps in student learning and financial resources. Our most recent strategic planning process with position the foundation to provide greater resources and equity to our students.
While the Edmonds School District is currently experiencing a budget shortfall, this is a temporary reduction that is caused by many factors. In fact, I’m guessing most people are unaware that in 2021 and beyond the district is projected to experience steady growth in student enrollment.
Additionally, three of four of the district’s middle schools are overcrowded, and the projections are increased enrollment at these levels. The district is looking for ways to ease overcrowded middle school classrooms. As a foundation board member and well versed in our joint strategic planning processes, I feel that I am more prepared to develop solutions that are fiscally sound and mutually beneficial to our students, families and the district’s staff. I look forward to helping the district navigate through a temporary budget reduction while gearing up for steady growth, such as has been done with the Foundation for Edmonds School District.
We also know that the number of required credits a student needs to graduate has increased. The district is seeking ways to offer more high school credit bearing classes in middle school and more dual credit courses. I share the district’s vision is to have graduations who are ready for life — for every student, not just those who are seeking post-secondary education, especially those who are pursuing vocational career pathways. As a product of a solid vocational program, I am naturally an advocate for students vocational career pathways. One such solution is the district’s new Career Connected Learning program which connects students to business opportunities. As a business owner, I can help to refer my connections to this stellar program and help to expand career pathways for our graduating seniors.
Q: What experience would you bring as a board director and how is it relevant to the position?
Auve: Over the last eight years as a trustee for the Foundation for Edmonds School District, I have helped to govern the organization’s growth from $40,000 per year to over a million dollars. I have served as the foundation’s president, vice president and secretary.
As a Lynnwood Rotarian, I have served as president, co-president, and participate in other committees. I have worked alongside the district personnel and fellow Rotarians to strengthen the House Project, a 45-year-old vocational program that is a collaboration between Lynnwood Rotary and Edmonds School District. This program provides real-world construction experience to high school students enrolled in the construction program. Many students have received industry accreditation and have gone onto a careers within the construction industry upon graduation.
I am a graduate of Leadership Snohomish County (LSC), a leadership development program. LSC’s goals are to develop sustainable leaders to strengthen our communities. Through the work I have done with the foundation and Rotary and many other organizations, I exemplify their mission. As a Rotarian, I believe in their motto, “Service above Self,” and want to continue making a difference for our students, families and teachers in the Edmonds School District.
Q: In light of the decision to sign a contract with Right at School, which many parents felt they didn’t have time to comment on, how do you think the school District could improve its public engagement process?
Auve: I do believe the district is re-examining their public comment processes. As an operational decision, I look forward to hearing how the district’s staff intends to improve this critical element in their decision-making process.
As a board member, my role is one of governance, oversight and fiduciary care. When a proposed contract is brought forward to the board for recommendation, it comes with a full report on due diligence and both the benefits to students, their families and to the district.
Q: What plans do you have to ensure financial stability given the $17.7 million budget shortfall the District is facing?
Auve: Unfortunately the district was caught in a perfect storm of elements that created the current financial shortfall. First and foremost, the district must balance its budget. As a small business owner, it is imperative that I operate within the confines of projected revenue and expenses, as should the district. In operating my business, I look for the non-essential expenses that can be reduced that do not impact my ability to run my business. Similarly, I would ask district leadership to review non-essential expenses to minimize impacts to student learning.
Q: What ideas do you have for addressing the more than 500 homeless students in the Edmonds School District?
Auve: It breaks my heart to know that there are students in our district who eat school lunch on Friday, and won’t eat again until school breakfast Monday morning. Kids who don’t have their most basic needs met struggle every day in school, and are less likely to graduate on time.
Which is why I passionately supported the creation of the Nourishing Network program. The program was started at the request of and in partnership with the Edmonds School District. Nourishing Network is a series of meals programs. In the weekend meals program, the foundation is serving over 250 children in 28 schools. In their pop-up pantries, the foundation partners with our local food banks to provide a pop-up food bank at five sites within the district. And the summer meals program will host five sites and focus serving students whose families rely on meals programs during the school year.
A little known program that the foundation runs, also in partnership with the district, is Whole Families Whole Communities. The foundation serves as the backbone agency that helps to bring wrap around, social services to our families in crisis. In our most recent strategic planning sessions, specific goals are set around strengthening both programs to meet the increasing demand for students and families in crisis.
As a foundation board trustee, I passionately support these programs. The resources that the foundation brings to support our homeless families allows the district to deploy stretched resources to other programs, and helps to meet a rising crisis in our own community.
I’ve brought together all four local rotary clubs within the school district boundaries to collaborate on a competitive food drive, and fundraise for the benefit of the Nourishing Network. I believe in supporting my community, especially those in need and who are vulnerable. Along with Lynnwood Rotary and the foundation, either personally or professionally, I donate my time, talent and business services to many many nonprofits throughout our region, including the Boys & Girls Club, Clothes for Kids, MS Helping Hands, North Seattle Baseball Association, Fisher House, Lynnwood Food Bank, Neighbors in Need and many more.
While this is a small contribution, my 7-year-old daughter and I regularly volunteer at the Neighbors in Need breakfasts at Trinity Lutheran Church, and at Lynnwood Food Bank to sort food. I actively served Rotary’s winter coat project, where we buy brand new winter coats and distribute them to low-income kids each fall.
Although I now have a first grader within the district, I have served both of these organizations long before I or my children could benefit from them.
Q: How would you work with District staff to encourage and promote fairness and equality for all of the District’s students?
Auve: The district has done a lot to address inequality over the past several years. I would support the ongoing process to evaluate how we could better address the needs of the students who are facing institutional obstacles. All 20,800 children in our district deserve an equitable and equal opportunity to succeed in school, take more rigorous coursework and graduate with close to an AA or have college credits upon graduation.
Diana White, my predecessor, participated in a committee where student fees were examined district wide. The goal of this was to understand where hidden barriers to student participation might exist. This was great work begun and I would like to see this work carried through to fruition.
The new Right at School program is another example of where the district is attempting to bring equitable solutions for our students and families. Most people are unaware that there had been tremendous inequity after-school care programs operating in our District. In our campuses, where a higher concentration of students participate in free- and reduced-meal programs, in many cases no affordable after-school solutions were offered these schools. Additionally, in these schools, there is an absence of parent groups who can raise sustainable funding to offset costs of after-school programs for families who otherwise would not be able to afford quality after-school care. I also understand that in other after-school care programs there were long wait lists and program inconsistencies. The district’s goal is to bring a systemic and equitable after-school care program for our students and families. I support this work.
There remains consistent inequity in our schools with strong parent groups (PTA, PSO, Boosters) where parents are able to raise considerable amounts of monies for their campuses, and our high needs schools who do not have the capacity to raise funds for their own campuses. I look forward to working alongside the district to continue to examine ways that we can help our schools have equitable access to such opportunities.
Q: A 2017 Washington State Department of Children, Youth and Families study showed that the Edmonds School District is serving only 28 percent of students eligible for early childhood education assistance. What ideas do you have for expanding the District’s Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program to accommodate more students?
Auve: As a Lynnwood Rotarian, I’m well aware of how valuable and necessary early education is, and was supportive of Lynnwood Rotary’s funding of the district’s early learning programs at multiple locations all year long.
As a school board member, I would continue to advocate for finding collaborative ways to provide access to early learning programs regardless of income or other barriers.
Q: The District has received feedback from the community that it should have handled the staffing reductions due to budget cuts differently. What ideas do you have for helping to assure teachers’ job security in times of financial stress?
Auve: It’s a tough position to be in. I would like to know the underlying facts before commenting on what I would’ve done differently. We want to attract the best teachers for our district, but we can’t sacrifice our financial viability to achieve that goal.
Q: Anything else you’d like to add?
Auve: Thank you for the opportunity to share my views. I’m always willing to continue the conversation for those voters and families within the district interested in learning or discussing more.
Q: Where can readers go to learn more about your campaign? (website and other contact information if applicable)