Jason Thompson was appointed as the next superintendent of the Marysville School District on Nov. 19 despite some disagreements over the appointment process.
Thompson was approved with a 3-0 vote during the Nov. 19 Marysville School District board of directors meeting while board members Chris Nation and Vanessa Edwards voiced concern over how much public input was involved in the appointment and abstained from the vote.
Earlier this year in May former Marysville School District superintendent Becky Berg announced her retirement.
Berg had been away from the district since the beginning of the year as she was recovering from surgery to remove a non-cancerous meningioma tumor from her brain.
Former deputy superintendent Jason Thompson was serving as acting superintendent during that time, and then served as interim superintendent since May.
Thompson has been the district’s deputy superintendent since 2016 and before that served as the district’s human resources executive director.
He also has previous experience as a superintendent of the Newport School District north of Spokane.
The plan for the future is to keep the current leadership staff on their current track, he said.
“I’m surrounded by people that are just doing amazing work and my job is just to keep us going in the same direction,” said Thompson.
“I do listen and I will listen. This is not about me, this is about our team and the Marysville School District,” he said.
The biggest goal for the district is bringing back a relationship with the community, he said.
“We need to rebuild trust. There’s people here tonight that kind of emphasized that. They don’t feel like they’re trusted or listened to, and we need to show everybody that we’re doing that,” he said.
Some community members felt that the decision to appoint Thompson came too suddenly.
Jeff Walter, a local parent and president of the Marysville Getchell High School Booster Club, spoke at the board meeting and said that parents are “feeling uneasiness and an impression that the board was making a decision without seeking the public's involvement.”
He expressed disappointment that there wasn’t more opportunity for parents to help guide the process.
“I’m not going to pretend that I understand the politics or the operation of the school district, but I will say I’m definitely not alone in feeling distrust in our board,” he said.
Other community members, like Tulalip Tribal member Ray Sheldon, said that they support Thompson and want the district to move forward.
“I can understand the concerns,” he said, “but going backwards and finding someone else is just not going to work."
Sheldon praised Thompson’s work with the Tulalip community and students with disabilities.
“What I’ve seen has been very good. He has opened up and been working with children, and special needs and tribal children have learned a lot,” he said.
Marysville School Board members had disagreements over the appointment.
“We as a board have heard from our community and discussed within ourselves the need to rebuild trust,” said Edwards.
“This will greatly frustrate any efforts to restore the public’s confidence in our work,” she said.
Board member Chris Nation agreed with Edwards.
“Over the course of the last five years and prior to that our community asked us repeatedly to be transparent, be open to the process and engage in conversation, and we have taken it upon ourselves if we approve this motion to say ‘you’re voice doesn’t matter, we’re making that decision for you,’” he said.
Both Edwards and Nation made it clear that their disagreements were not because they didn’t think Thompson would be right for the job.
“My statement has nothing to do with you Jason. I’ve enjoyed working with you and think you’re doing a wonderful job,” said Edwards.
“After public discussion we may end up with the same choice, and there’s nothing wrong with that,” said Nation.
Tom Albright, president of the school board, said that moving forward with Thompson was the right move for the district.
“The board has been working on this issue intensely since the last week of August. We’ve had a number of meetings and frankly we’re not of one mind, but there is a majority of us that feels very strongly that we want to move forward with Jason as our leader because of his ability to communicate and lead,” he said.
Board member Pete Lundberg said that appointing Thompson will “move our district forward much faster” while spending time on a search would stall projects that are currently being implemented.
“It would then become difficult for people to understand whether to get behind any initiative of the district when we’re on pause, out looking for a superintendent,” he said.
Lundberg said that Thompson has improved the relationship with the district’s teachers union and connected with the Tulalip Tribes in the year he has served as superintendent.
“I believe that Jason will prove himself to even the people who don’t necessarily like this process,” he said.
Lundberg also added that he appreciated the healthy discussion from the board.
“Even though we don’t always agree on everything I’m very bullish on this board because I appreciate we don’t all think exactly the same,” he said.