At the new ‘Coffee with Constituents’ program Marysville School District board members are going out to local coffee shops to chat with parents, community members and students.
The first "Coffee with Constituents" was held on Jan. 12 at the Marysville Starbucks on 47th Street.
“We wanted to really get into our community a little bit more. I mean, parents have our e-mails and they have board meetings, but how many people get around to doing that? This way we get some face-to-face time,” said school board member Vanessa Edwards.
School officials hope to hold the event twice a month at various locations with at least two board members at each of the meetings.
The first event was attended by several parents and students.
“I’m really excited. I wasn’t sure how many people were going to show up but we had a lot of good discussion and feedback,” said Edwards.
Attendees said they enjoyed getting the chance to get information on the things they cared about.
“I thought it was very informative and it was good to get my opinions out on the topics that were discussed,” said Marysville-Pilchuck High School student Joseph Dion.
“I thought that this was outstanding. I think that more community involvement, more parental involvement with the school system is going to help,” said local parent Mike Pieckiel
He said that parents should be getting involved in helping to improve schools.
“Funding for the schools just isn’t there to give our kids what they really need so we have to contribute some of our time, our own energy, to make it really work,” he said.
Parents and students brought up topics like technology and equity.
Edwards said that she has many of the same concerns as parents and it’s good to have people understand their thoughts are shared.
“I like they can have all this access with Chromebooks, but at times I’m like ‘what are you doing? Are you actually working?’ and I hear a lot of the same things from parents,” she said.
The question of equitable student access also came up, which school officials have been tackling for the last year.
“That’s something that we’re still trying to define as a district, and it’s such a big thing that everyone has their own thoughts on that,” said Edwards, who added it was good that someone brought it up during the discussion.
The casual "Coffee with Constituents" are meant to be more audience-led, said Edwards.
“We had students show up and they gave us what they experienced and I like that,” she said.
They are also meant to provide a place where community members can feel more relaxed to have a conversation.
“You’re not in a board room where it is kind of stuffy and you might feel uncomfortable there,” said Edwards. “This is a place where people naturally gather so we can have open conversations.”
Edwards hopes that more people come out to the next event as well, which she expects will be held near the end of January.
“I really enjoyed this and I hope that we have more of the community come out to it. You don’t have to stay long, but come out and talk with us and bring your students. I would love to talk the students,” she said.