The Marysville School District is currently considering two final options for their high school boundaries and officials hope to make a decision by spring of this year.
The district began to move away from the small learning community and school choice model in 2018 and during that time created a committee of staff and local parents to begin discussions on how high school boundaries would be made.
The COVID-19 pandemic delayed the boundary discussion for a few months, but those talks have resumed.
District staff discussed the final options during a Feb. 9 online town hall. Another online town hall was scheduled for Feb. 16 and a Spanish language town hall is scheduled for Feb. 18 at 6 p.m.
The first boundary option, known as “Option A,” would send students from Marshall, Quil Ceda Tulalip and Pinewood elementary schools to Totem Middle School.
Students from Shoultes, Cascade, Allen Creek and Grove elementary schools would go to Marysville Middle School, while Kellogg Marsh, Sunnyside and Liberty students would go to Cedarcrest.
At the high school level, Pinewood, Shoultes, Cascade, Marshall and Quil Ceda Tulalip elementary schools would go to Marysville-Pilchuck High School while all others would head to Marysville Getchell High School.
Legacy High School and Heritage High School would remain as choice schools that students could opt into.
“Option B” keeps most boundaries the same, but switches where Sunnyside Elementary and Pinewood Elementary students are going.
The district hopes to implement high school boundaries for many reasons.
“It is important to plan for strong, healthy transitions between schools,” said Spencer Welch, a consultant who is helping the district with boundary implementation. “Knowing where students are going to be coming from and into which schools allows the leaders and teachers to plan a program that is most appropriate."
The model also keeps groups of students largely together.
“Having more stable predictability with the students your students will be attending school with is important,” said Welch.
Finally, the transportation bus routes can be better planned, saving the district money.
The boundary committee was charged with three priorities: student safety, equitable distribution of diversity and transportation costs.
The district’s demographic populations should be evenly distributed between the schools, said Welch.
“They wanted the secondary school enrollments as much as possible to match the city’s cultural diversity,” he said.
“We looked at race, ethnicity, language and income,” said Rodrick Merrell, executive director of secondary schools and one of the boundary committee members.
Free and reduced lunch status was used as a proxy for income in this case.
The committee looked at about 40 possible configurations for the district boundaries.
“I wasn’t involved in it so I can say this without tooting my own horn: your committee did a lot of work and took it seriously,” said Welch.
Ultimately, the boundary committee recommended ‘Option B’ to the school board because it had a slightly better distribution of demographics between the schools than ‘Option A.’
The Marysville School Board is bringing both options to the community for discussion before they plan to make a decision.
None of the options prevented perfect transportation options, largely due to the district’s four middle schools all being located close to central Marysville.
“One of the things we were challenged with is that we didn’t have a master plan when all of these buildings were placed in our district,” said Merrell.
In some options students may have to bus past middle schools to get to their school because of that, such as Sunnyside Elementary or Liberty Elementary students.
Because Liberty Elementary and Cedarcrest Elementary have some of the highest rates of free and reduced lunch in the district, those two schools couldn’t be paired with each other, creating awkward transportation routes for at least one of the schools.
Merrell said that in-district transfers will still be available for students who want to go to a particular school.
If the school board makes a final decision in the spring, changes would not be implemented until the 2022-23 school year.
“It takes a lot of time to plan all of these things that we’re talking about: the staffing at schools, how many teachers we need at each school, student scheduling,” said Welch.
More updates about the district’s boundary change process are available at msd25.org/boundary-change-process.