There will soon be a vacancy in the office of Superintendent of Schools for the Marysville School District, and I for one will be glad to participate in bringing in a fresh face with fresh ideas for the district.
While Dr. Larry Nyland has worked hard and accomplished a great deal, his greatest legacy may unfortunately be a negative one, and it’s a legacy that Marysville citizens need to step up and correct with their voices and their input as the search for a new superintendent commences. The legacy I refer to is the new high school campus, Marysville-Getchell, and the four smaller learning communities that inhabit it.
Study after educational study shows strong connections between academic achievement and participation in the performing arts (music, drama, visual art), yet the MG campus undoubtedly offers the fewest opportunities for students in the arts of any similar-sized high school in our area, if not the entire state: 1,350 students with access to only one small jazz band that meets before the school day, one choir that meets after school and one that meets during the school day in only one smaller learning community (the International School of Communications,) and no drama whatsoever. No marching band, symphonic band or wind ensemble; no dance, no school plays, no musical theater, no ceramics or advanced art courses. Is this considered a first-rate modern education?
The campus was built without a performing arts facility and with only minimal facilities for visual arts (no ceramics kiln, for example). Pair these issues with other construction shortcuts: a tiny gym that doesn’t even seat the whole student body (only 1,000 students can sit in bleachers; others must sit on the floor for all-school assemblies), no library, and what must be the narrowest parking lot and driving lanes in the county. “On time and under budget” was the trumpet call of district leaders after construction; maybe it’s easy to say that if major components of a high school are intentionally left out.
I’ve heard of other troubling issues at MG as well — dozens of upperclassmen unable to take advanced course work due to scheduling restraints and having to go off to Everett Community College to get them, costing the district thousands in lost state per-student revenue. No offense, MG staff and students — I’m sure some great things are happening in classrooms, and that staff-student relationships are strong in an atmosphere of 350 or so students to 14-16 teachers. I wonder, though, if the price for this smaller atmosphere has been too high, and if our students have lost out on some great opportunities that should rightfully have been theirs under normal conditions.
Sadly, I also wonder if Marysville taxpayers in 2006 would have voted for the bond issue to build the school in the first place if they had known that Marysville Getchell would be the kind of school they would get. At any rate, now is the time for new leadership to come in and restore some of what has been lost. We can’t rebuild the building, but we can and should take a good look at what is and isn’t being offered for our kids and do something about it. I intend to do whatever I can to make sure it happens.