M’ville winding down on school decisions

  • Saturday, April 21, 2018 1:30am
  • Opinion

By Jason Thompson

Today, Marysville School District staff, students, families, community members and community leaders will join us as we plan the direction of our schools.

We will share initial thoughts and early actions the district is taking in response to what we have heard so far, and we will ask our community for help in shaping and strengthening ways the district can act on several important topics. Throughout the year, we have solicited comments and ideas from our families, staff and community in a number of ways, including a telephone poll, interviews with a cross-section of community leaders, online surveys for staff and community members, and during natural meetings occurring in our district, such as PTA and booster club meetings, local service club meetings and others.

We know not everyone will be able to participate in the meeting this morning, so we want to share the overall themes we heard. The good news is that our community is aware of the important role good schools play in building a strong community. Many voiced their support for the district and a willingness to help where needed. The energy and ingredients for success appear to be present in Marysville and Tulalip.

Our community wants to see the district’s vision and student achievement intertwined. We all want Marysville and Tulalip to have a strong, positive identity with great schools, places for families and children to learn and play, after school programs for youth, ample sports fields, and services to meet all students’ needs.

We also heard that we have work to do to strengthen trust and execution of our promises. This includes more communication around possible changes and decisions, and district plans and outcomes around increasing student achievement. We took this feedback to heart and will work on being more transparent about our processes and decisions.

Our middle and high schools were also a major topic. Many parents and students expressed strong support for access to broader course offerings and extracurricular activities, as well as an interest in more equitable distributions of student groups (socio-demographic, gifted and special education students, etc.) across schools.

There were also noted concerns about school culture, behavior, safety and overcrowding in middle schools. Our families also shared their desire to be more involved in their neighborhood schools and requested additional support from staff and administration in understanding program options and ways to prepare their children for college and careers. School culture and safety were top of mind.

The district was encouraged to consider a trauma-informed approach to teaching and classroom management, and to ensure high expectations for all students. Comments around safety also included a desire for improved emergency protocols, and more security cameras and lighting to make campuses safer.

And lastly, building maintenance and improvement is also important to our community. We all want to be proud of our schools and school buildings, and everyone wants school buildings to be more appealing and well-maintained. Some said they would be willing to champion a bond, while others said they would prefer to see improvements in appearance of current buildings and student academic performance first.

The Marysville School District is thankful to all those who participated in this process, and we hope to involve more community members as we move forward.

We will continue to keep our community updated through articles like this, social media, email and through our website. Please stay involved and learn more about this community engagement process at www.bit.ly/DreamBig2point0

Jason Thompson is the acting superintendent for the Marysville School District, which has a monthly column in the newspaper.

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