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Marysville community, legislators meet about schools
MARYSVILLE — A Nov. 22 meeting between Marysville School District staff and community members drew not only Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring, but also state Senator Nick Harper and state representatives Mike Sells and John McCoy, as MSD Superintendent Dr. Larry Nyland made it clear how Marysville schools would be impacted by proposed state cuts to levy equalization funds.
“It would affect us two to three times more than the rest of the state,” said Nyland, who explained that, while property-rich school districts would lose less than $200 per student, property-poor districts like Marysville stand to lose between $400 and $500 per student. “It would be the equivalent of double-levy failures.”
Harper urged local voters to put pressure on the state Legislature now, rather than waiting until later, while McCoy recounted a visit he’d paid to Shoultes Elementary that morning.
“All the teachers are quite creative,” McCoy said. “They’ve had to eliminate PE, but they’ve integrated it into their instructional time by having students run in place while they’re reciting their ABCs. Those students are constantly moving and all of them were smiling, while all the teachers are doing the best they can with the resources they have.”
After recalling Shoultes’ leaky roof, McCoy disputed claims that teachers are to blame for the state of education, asserting that such critics should make similar visits to classrooms.
“We need revenue, and I’ll say that knowing that the newspaper is in the room,” McCoy said, drawing laughter from the crowd. “I’m tired of furlough days.”
Sells, a former teacher who now serves on the Education Appropriations Committee in the state House, seconded McCoy’s support for revenue, as well as the calls of community groups such as “OUR Marysville” to close corporate tax loopholes. At the same time, he pointed out that such measures require two-thirds majorities in order to be passed.
“We’ve come to disconnect government, in our heads, from the services that it provides for us,” Sells said. “For that, you can thank 40 years of talk radio telling us that government is no good.”
Arden Watson, president of the Marysville Education Association, deemed it “outrageous” not only that class sizes were being increased without direct input from the students themselves, but also that the technology available to those students isn’t current enough to make them competitive in the job market.
“By private industry standards, it’s long outdated,” Watson said. “We send emails to people and they tell us that they can’t open our attachments.”
When Watson asked how the state Legislators proposed increasing revenue, McCoy and Sells agreed that overhauling the tax system was on the table. McCoy echoed calls to close tax loopholes, while Sells suggested an upper-end income tax.
“There’s plenty of pain to go around, but there’s a real divide in fairness here,” Nehring said. “Without a successful school district, we won’t have a successful city. If we don’t focus on K-12 education, the aerospace jobs that should be ours are going to go to other states and never return.”
Melissa Stone of OUR Marysville, a single mother with three children in the Marysville School District, was among those calling for the loopholes to be closed to help support the schools, while Chrissy Dulik-Dalos, manager of the Indian Education Department for the Communities of Color Coalition in Marysville, expressed her reservations about having brought her daughter to receive her schooling in Marysville.
“We’re Native American, so we wanted her to have classmates and teachers who looked like her,” Dulik-Dalos said. “I also brought her here because of the small class sizes and academic support. She has to know that adults care about her education. All of this makes me anxious.”