Progress for less money

In 1985 I was interviewing for an administrative position with the Marysville School District. As I waited for my opportunity I noticed a man across the street from the Service Center out working in his yard. I decided to chat with a “local” to see what I could learn about the Marysville School District. The one thing I remember from our conversation was he said, “If they don’t need it, they don’t spend it.” I came from a conservative farming community in eastern Washington, and words like these made a great first impression. Twenty five years later, as the Marysville School District comes to the voters asking for a replacement levy and bond this February 9th, I can honestly say that “If they don’t need it, they don’t spend it.”

Dr. Nyland, in his opening speech to district employees in 2004, stated that he would “do what he said he would do.” Integrity is hard to find these days, so let’s take a look at how that’s going. In the 2006 bond election the Marysville community approved two new buildings; a high school (Marysville-Getchell) and an elementary school (Grove). Grove was completed one year early and under budget. Marysville-Getchell is on pace to also be one year early and under budget. Dr. Nyland created a community oversight committee whose job it has been to “watch dog” how the district handles bond financing and construction. The money saved by good planning and execution provided for the upgrade to the M-PHS track and football field to be completed this summer. It also allowed for money that is being appropriated to the 2010 bond, lowering the cost to tax payers.

When Dr. Nyland became superintendent the district was under scrutiny from the state for loose accounting practices. Since then, and with the work of finance director Jim Baker, the district now experiences clean audits. If there is an accounting problem now, it is usually the district that finds it and self reports.

Dr. Nyland also brought with him a new way of teaching reading. Because this is what he said he would do, every year since the Marysville School District has focused on this new approach, spending significant time and money to re-educate teachers to this process. If the latest WASL results are any indication, it is paying off. Fourth graders at Tulalip Elementary gained 20 percentage points in reading last year. More first graders than ever in the history of Marysville were reading at grade level at the end of the school year. Middle level sixth grade teachers were targeted for intense reading instruction. District sixth grade students responded with WASL reading scores that were 14 percent higher than the previous year.

Now the district is coming to you with a combined levy and bond that replace the existing levy and bond, and lowers taxes. If your house is appraised at $300,000, you will pay $48 per year less through 2014. This is made possible because the District is retiring a bond from 1990, and the new bond will be for fewer dollars. The levy will account for 20 percent of district spending, or $21 million, toward programs for students. The bond will provide $78 million to replace Cascade, Liberty and Marysville Middle School, our oldest and most in need of replacement buildings. The District will use the plans developed for Arts and Tech High School as a template for Marysville Middle, and will use the Grove Elementary design for both Cascade and Liberty. This process allows for faster and less expensive completion of these buildings, continuing the conservative planning and accountability to you, the taxpayer.

The message is clear, Marysville can educate their kids to the best possible extent, and replace our three oldest buildings for less money than we currently are paying. The opportunity is ours to support our kid’s futures. The District has worked very hard to be good stewards with your money. Please vote “Yes” for kids when you receive your mail in ballot. “If they don’t need it, they don’t spend it.”

Pete Lundberg

Co-chair Citizens for

Marysville Schools

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