MARYSVILLE – Just a few weeks ago, the Marysville School District’s Regional Apprentice Pathway program looked a little weak.
But that changed Monday as more than a dozen local leaders and trades industry representatives came to a school board meeting to show their support.
“It’s the community muscle,” said Donnetta Oremus, Career and Technical Education director.
The “muscle” included trade union representatives, leaders of various cities in north Snohomish County, county leaders and Everett Community College.
“This is just a tiny, little piece of it,” Oremus said of the community support. “This is where we need to take our students.”
Lori Knudson, executive director of K-12 schools, added, “There’s been a lot of amazing work on the RAP center” the past few weeks.
The district now knows it will cost $500,000 to fix the building the program wants to use. Estimates had been as high as $1.2 million.
As to where the money will come from, the state has allotted $750,000 for operating costs for each of the next two years. Apparently the repair money can come from that. The county also will kick in $200,000 and if two classes of 25 sign up that would be another $250,000 from the state for enrollment.
Arlington and Marysville each expect to have about 10 students at the fall start, Darrington has one, and Stanwood, Granite Falls, Lake Stevens and Sultan are now being asked if they would have any students interested.
“We’re taking our dog and pony show on the road” trying to get interest, Oremus said, adding she has her “rose-tinted glasses on” about filling all the spots.
County Councilman Nate Nehring predicted north county districts will be fighting over open RAP spots in the future.
Oremus said even if there aren’t 50 students the state legislature is committed to making sure the pilot project is a success.
In September, classes would start in two vacated agriculture classrooms near the RAP building. Students would move there after it’s fixed in October.
Basically, RAP is an advanced program in the trades where students can receive college credentials and get fast-tracked to an apprenticeship. It goes beyond what Sno-Isle in Mukilteo and Marysville Getchell’s Academy of Construction and Engineering can offer.
Oremus, a former Sno-Isle director, said RAP is not competing against that school. Along with being more advanced, it’s tied to Everett Community College and trades apprenticeship programs. And it’s more for north county students.
“We’re not saying it’s a better pathway,” said Pete Lundberg, school board president.
“It costs a lot of money to provide redundancy,” director Chris Nation added.
The local trades industry is interested because there are a lack of trained professionals in those fields now, and in a few years the need will be only greater as Baby Boomers retire.
One person in the group said the average age of an apprentice in Mount Vernon is 28. He said many high schoolers bounce around for years before figuring out what they want to do. RAP can get students on a productive pathway in high school. Another said if students know learning certain material will help them get a high-paying job they will be more engaged.
Still another said if young people don’t learn the trades, demand will be so high in the future that costs for work will skyrocket.
“It’ll cost a lot of money in the future,” Lundberg said.
The board and school administrators seemed a lot more upbeat about RAP than they were a few weeks ago when so much was still unknown.
“This can change the landscape for our district,” Oremus said.
Scott Beebe, assistant superintendent, then talked about enrollment, which has been dropping drastically for a number of years.
Housing starts are key to growing enrollment, and the Marysville market is just starting to recover from the recession a decade ago in that area.
He said some students were choosing to go to Lake Stevens, but they are no longer taking Marysville kids because they are too full. Lakewood, however, still is, as is Arlington.
Another issue is parents are staying in their homes locally after their children leave, meaning fewer school-age kids per household. Enrollment is one of the issues a community committee will be looking at when discussing boundaries for MG and M-P. Beebe said when school starts the committee will meet twice a month with the goal of making a decision by the end of the year.
“The biggest mistake would be to rush it and create a mess,” Lundberg said.
Regarding the equity committee, Beebe said they are starting with race, but will also look at gender, economics, ethnicity, and even equity in opportunity and outcome.
It was mentioned that Edmonds took three years to make a policy on equity, and now uses it as a filter in every decision it makes.
“It’s good to go slow,” director Vanessa Edwards said.
Beebe said those committee members are looking at what others have done on equity. It was mentioned that bits and pieces of other policies can be used to come up with one just right for Marysville.
“It’s not one size fits all,” Nation said.