Students at Marysville's 10th Street School are staging a protest using their favorite weapon-music.
The middle school, which last year moved to its new home on the Marysville Secondary Campus just off 27th Avenue NE, focuses on music education and each of its students are required to play an instrument. So when news began to circulate that the popular music teacher, Nathan Sackman, might lose his job to the budget axe, students rallied to make their voices heard.
"I heard about it from the school secretary, and I thought, 'this isn't right'," said Franqui Rojas, one of the organizers of a protest that took place on Saturday, May 2, at Jennings Park. "So I called Sami and we went from there."
"We just started sending out text messages," said Samantha Brown, an 8th grader at 10th Street. "We don't want to see Mr. Sackman go."
More than two dozen kids gathered next to the Red Barn on Saturday, armed with instruments and sheet music, to draw attention to their cause.
"We're just trying to raise awareness and get adults involved," said Franqui. The school band members were gathering signatures on petitions asking to keep their popular teacher.
"He's just a great teacher, and we don't want to lose him," added Jake Sirianni, a 7th grader. "It's not fair just because he's new to the district. Now we may get another teacher who's not as good."
In the district's agreement with the teachers' union, seniority is the determining factor when teacher layoffs are necessary. Those who are new to the district are most likely to be cut.
The Marysville School District is struggling to cut between $2.4 and $3.4 million from its 2009-2010 budget, due to reduced funding from the state. Although final numbers have not yet been provided by the legislature, district administrators are afraid they'll have to deliver 50 to 80 RIF (reduction in force) notices to teachers.
The district's budget will be the subject of a public forum on May 18, with two hours allowed to hear comments from parents, students and staff. But the 10th Street group doesn't plan to wait that long.
They were determined to show up at the May 5 Board meeting, if only to play in the parking lot before the meeting.
"We're trying to get another 300 or so signatures [on petitions]," said Sami. "We also intend to send letters and do whatever else we can."