MARYSVILLE — The search for a new superintendent for the Marysville School District solicited input from community members at the MSD Service Center on the evenings of Jan. 29 and 31, as members of the MSD Board of Directors and representatives of Northwest Leadership Associates led group discussions on what they see as the needs of the district and the necessary qualifications of a new superintendent.
“Northwest Leadership Associates recommended that we do four or five of these community forums,” Board President Chris Nation said on Jan. 31. “We told them that wasn’t enough, and we wanted 25-30 forums instead. We wanted this to be as transparent as legally possible, because it shouldn’t be just the five of us making this decision.”
Dr. Wayne Robertson of Northwest Leadership Associates explained that community input would continue to be solicited through Feb. 11, in person and on the district’s website at www.msvl.k12.wa.us, after which that feedback will be analyzed by NWLA.
“Gathering criteria from the community allows the applications and interview questions to be tailored toward those concerns,” Robertson said. “We will keep vetting all of these applicants and candidates right up to the finish line.”
During the discussions led by Board member Pete Lundberg, the question of the needs and challenges facing the district drew a variety of responses from forum attendees.
“We have to serve a diversity of students, from our special needs students to our students from Tulalip,” Mary Carlson said. “As part of that, we need to recognize that not all of our graduating high school students are college-bound, so I’d like to see a greater emphasis on vocational education.”
“Nationally, only 30-40 percent of high school graduates go on to college, so what about the others?” Stuart Hunt asked. “We need to address their careers. We also need our new superintendent to tackle the decrepit state of our arts programs in the Marysville schools.”
“It’s a challenge to juggle the district’s finances, especially in the current economy,” Steve Muller said. “That limits the district’s ability to fund arts and music programs.”
As for the qualifications they’d prefer in a new superintendent, all the forum attendees agreed that they’d like to be able to require residency in the area if possible, with Carlson going so far as to insist that he or she be “a physical presence” at school and community events, while Muller and Don Whitfield echoed the importance of a superintendent with drive and commitment.
“Dr. Larry was a workaholic,” Muller said. “I’m not afraid of a superintendent who might be more green, as long as they bring a lot of energy.”
“One of the qualifications we’ve already stipulated is a five-year commitment to the district,” Robertson said.