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District, community discuss failed bond

 

Christopher Andersson

Local parent and Marysville School District staff member Wendie Jones puts a sticker down to voice her opinion on why she thinks the public rejected the district's school bond this April at a symposium put on by district officials on Sept. 15.

Marysville School District officials met with local parents and other community members last week to find out their thoughts about the recently failed school bond and the district in general.

District officials invited the public to three symposiums on Sept. 14, 15 and 17.

"We need to hear back from the community. We need to know what people like and don't like," said Emily Wicks, communications coordinator for the district.

The main topic of the symposium was the school bond from April which voters rejected.

Only 50.53 percent of the public voted in favor of the bond. In Washington state, school bond measures require more than 60 percent of the vote to pass.

The $230 million bond measure would have created a new middle school in northern Marysville, replaced Liberty Elementary, Cascade Elementary, Marysville Middle School and most of Marysville-Pilchuck High School and provide some maintenance measures for other schools in the district.

The district does not have a bond measure on any of the upcoming ballots currently, but district officials are still hoping to catch up the district's aging facilities with some measure soon.

"We're kind of behind the eight ball now," said District Superintendent Becky Berg. "Once we pass this, and we will pass in some way, shape or form ... we want to get on more of a cycle, so we don't have so many schools that need replacing at the same time," she said.

Local parents, district staff and other interested community members came out to the symposiums to give their opinions.

"I think it's fantastic that there are this many people interested in giving feedback to the school district," said Berg.

"I think by the time we go through Saturday we'll notice some themes in what the public is saying," she said.

Local parent Liz Dobler said she thought April's bond was rejected because people didn't have a full understanding of the measure.

"I think it's about getting the communication out there. I know the bond committee really strived to get the word out there, but I think people still had a misunderstanding of what was coming," she said.

Marysville teacher and local parent Annette Northrop also said that education of the community needs to be better.

"We need to build trust in the community so they understand why it's better for the whole community," she said.

District staff member and local parent Wendie Jones said a lot of the feedback she received involved the district trying to replace less schools at one time.

"I think a lot of [the bond's rejection] has to do with money and the size of the bond. Unfortunately we don't pass bonds very often so people feel like we should be staggering it more, but when we try to stagger it, that doesn't work either," she said.

Other community members also expressed concerns over the district's other buildings, like Shoultes Elementary, which was built in 1951, the same year as Liberty Elementary.

"If everything went the way it was supposed to, Shoultes [Elementary School] is what we would be talking about today," said Wicks.

District officials hope that something can be done so that the district's facilities don't fall further behind.

"As you can see, our needs are very extensive. We have a lot of replacements and maintenance that need to be done, and as we procrastinate those needs grow to a larger number of buildings we need to maintain," said school board member Chris Nation.

 

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