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Final recommendation for MSD schools coming soon

 

Christopher Andersson

Marysville Getchell High School's International School of Communications.

The Marysville School District may be moving to boundaries for their high schools as the staff recommendation will be going to their board of directors soon.

Since the beginning of last school year district officials have been discussing where residents want the district to go.

A decision about high schools is part of the final recommendation that interim superintendent Jason Thompson plans to submit to the board on July 16.

The recommendation will also be about a number of other items regarding the district's direction, including two new positions, a director of engagement and outreach, and a director of student safety and security, which are beginning now and are meant to improve community participation and students' wellbeing.

The high school boundary issue has been one of the points most argued about, both for and against by local families.

"We're recommending boundaries for our high schools," said Thompson. "The focus is so that all of our students have access to our programs."

High school choice necessitates a large transportation budget which could be trimmed if the district moves to boundaries.

Some estimates reported the district could save around $1 million.

"It all goes back to equity and making sure we're using all our resources in the best way so that all students have a chance to succeed," said Emily Wicks, coordinator of communications and community relations for the district.

Students would also know as soon as they're in elementary school where they will graduate from, said Thompson.

"Another key part of it is that we have a lot of students who do not know where they're going to go to high school," said Thompson.

Marysville Getchell High School also presents staffing problems. "You really want to be sure that you can fill your classes," said Wicks.

Any changes made to the school system will not be "overnight changes," said Wicks.

"Whatever decision is made there will be a year of planning for that transition," she said.

The district's smaller high schools, Arts and Technology High School, Heritage High School and Marysville Mountain View High School, would still remain as choice options as well, said Thompson.

Some of the public's other issues with the district include communication and student safety, said Thompson, which they are trying to get a start on now.

Greg Dennis, who was formerly the district's director of facilities, will now move into a new role as the director of student safety and security.

"I think it is pretty obvious that everyone is concerned about student safety, across the city and across the nation," said Thompson.

"This position will really focus on changes that we can make to help keep students safer," he said.

In his new role, Dennis will be responsible for the drills, practices, safety policies and how facilities are laid out."Someone will be dedicated to how those types of things happen now," said Thompson.

In his former position Dennis had already done some of those roles.

"Greg has been doing that in addition to his work with facilities for a while now," said Wicks.

Jodi Runyon, who has long served as the executive assistant to the superintendent for the district, will now take on the role of director of engagement and outreach.

"The other thing we heard in our community was that they wanted us to do a better job communicating with them," said Thompson.

"We want all our community partners to know what we are doing," he said.

Wicks said that Runyon already has a lot of experience working with the community with her.

"Jodi and I have always been involved in this type of activity," said Wicks.

"When we brought in Emily [Wicks] she helped us a lot in this regard, we just want to take it to another level," said Thompson.

Thompson took his initial recommendation to the board on June 18, who asked him to refine some of the points.

He plans to bring the second draft at the board's meeting on July 16, where he expects them to begin a "careful discussion" about the issues.

"I know that there are many people that want a decision," said Thompson, adding he thinks the district will have a final decision in August.

 

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