Marysville school board members talked about the move away from SLCs and giving students more time to explore career paths during their most recent Coffee with Constituents on March 9.
The school district's program allows community members, parents and students to come talk to school board members in a laid-back setting, usually in a coffeehouse in Marysville.
Some parents at the most recent meeting had concerns about the process to move away from Marysville Getchell High School's Small Learning Communities and that justifications about equity were formulated after the decision had already been made.
"While there were some solid philosophical underpinnings behind it, I think one of the main drivers was money," said Marysville School District board member Pete Lundberg.
The SLC model had been drifting away from the original intent for years, said Lundberg, and the district could have done a better job talking with parents.
"The worst thing that happened when we went out from the SLC model was the lack of communication, and when you don't give people enough information everybody fills in the gaps," he said.
Lundberg said that the school district is working on a clearer goal for how to treat all its students equitably and there is a committee forming with community members that will help answer that question.
Parents said that the Getchell SLCs were valuable for helping students see if they liked that particular discipline, and providing those options to explore careers is important for the school district, said board member Vanessa Edwards.
"Right now, the state is really hammering on that they need to have more guidance out there at the high school and middle school levels," she said.
Students wouldn't necessarily be fully trained in a skill but should have the opportunity to "dip their toes in," she said.
Parents hoped that those opportunities came earlier for students.
"We wait until the junior or senior year and we say 'oh you have this freedom now, what do you want to do?' and they're like 'what? I have to apply for college in six months and know what I want to do?' The model doesn't really fit the system as it works in reality," said local parent Beth Ha.
The district is trying to create pathways for students, said Edwards, which are not necessarily a track of classes a student would be committed to, but a guideline for students to follow if they want.
"It's not necessarily the student has to pick and know where they're going, but they should be able to see what they like," said Edwards.
The district is also planning to pilot a trimester schedule soon at Mountain View Arts and Technology High School, which would allow up to 30 credits over a high school career instead of 24.
A class day would be five periods under a trimester system.
This decision is being driven largely because of new state standards which require 24 credits to graduate.
"The problem we have with a six-period day is if you have to have 24 credits to graduate, that means you can never fail anything," said Lundberg.
This would allow students more flexibility in their class choices.
"We know that often electives are what inspire kids to go to school, so with more classes you would have the opportunity to take more electives as well," he said.
Because of the planning period that teachers need, a trimester system would require the district hire more staff which would mean about $800,000 more if implemented across the district, said Lundberg.
"We would have to be prioritizing our budget if that's what we decide to do," he said.
The school district has been holding Coffee with Constituents meetings since the start of the year to help the school board talk directly to parents.
"These meetings help the board understand what the community wishes are and I think that is the huge value in this. It's relaxed and you can say whatever you want," said Lundberg.
Community members also liked the casual setting.
"I thought it was really good. Kind of a unique opportunity directly from the horse's mouth what they're thinking," said local parent Mark Indrebo.
"I appreciated the honesty," said local parent Kelly Indrebo.