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Marysville school attendance plan set for board approval

Marysville School District superintendent Larry Nyland, right, speaks at the district attendance boundary -
Marysville School District superintendent Larry Nyland, right, speaks at the district attendance boundary
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MARYSVILLE If youve got 100 percent of your people onboard, youve got consensus. And the Marysville School District boundary review committee reached consensus on attendance boundaries for the new all-middle schools format starting next fall in the 11,000-student district.
The 50-plus member committee agreed unanimously to divide the districts 10 existing and one future elementary schools, among the three new middle schools that will begin serving sixth- through eighth-grade students next fall.
Currently Cedarcrest Middle School has those grades, while Marysville Middle School has only grades six and seven. Marysville Junior High School serves grades eight and nine: next fall it will be renamed Totem Middle School and will join Marysville Middle School in serving grades six through eight.
The final two options before the committee differed in switching children attending Pinewood or Shoultes elementary schools from either Cedarcrest to Marysville Middle School. The committee voted for Option B, sending Pinewood students to Cedarcrest and Shoultes students to Marysville Middle School. The recommendation will go to the Marysville School Board for final consideration April 9, with several workshops and community forums scheduled before then.
Located on the 13200 block of 51st Street NE, Shoultes is the districts most northerly building and students will continue to be bused several miles south, riding past Cedarcrest everyday to MMS. However, the solution keeps most feeder patterns intact and minimizes disruption to how students progress through the middle echelons of their school years.
About a dozen Pinewood parents and students sat like a gallery while the committee debated the measure and voted for their choice on a consenso-gram, featuring two maps showing the elementary school attendance areas and the corresponding areas created for middle schools. The boundary committee is weighted heavily with two parents from each school, but the witnesses did not get to vote.
They included Paula Ireland and Kim Atterbury, whose daughters Rebecca and Lindsey are both fifth-graders and best friends. The mothers dreaded their separation as the committees action will most likely send Rebecca to MMS while Lindsey will go to Cedarcrest. That the Irelands live on the border on the attendance area just makes the scenario more bitter.
Theyve grown up together, Atterbury said after the vote. Its a crucial time in their life and they need to be with their friends.
Ireland moved a lot as a child and noted that she and her husband have stayed in the same house for years so as not to require their three children to switch schools.
We understand that these changes have to come about, Ireland said. Were all concerned that Pinewood is going to go to a school that fits with the type of school that Pinewood is.
Ireland said parents need to be aware of the changes; one committee member seconded her thoughts.
Committee facilitator John Fotheringham emphasized the school boards number one directive was ensuring an even balance of socio-economic factors, meaning an even distribution of students by race and free and reduced lunch recipients. Four of the plans to make the penultimate cut were so close in those regards as to be a dead heat; many were identical and all differed only by a few tenths of a percent.
The changes between the options are incredibly small, said district special education director Andy Rogers, noting that the lunch factor is highest at elementary schools and drops off at upper grade levels.
Fitting students into the middle schools will not be a problem according to Fotheringham, who ticked off a list of bloated student capacities for the three schools. MMS has a little more than half of its potential 1,620 students, while Cedarcrest could host 1,140 and Totem (the current junior high) can hold just over a thousand students.
Busing routes were another concern, but far down on the list of priorities. What complicates the committees task is the four-block spread between MMS and the newly-named Totem Middle School. District transportation director Joe Legare said there was little cost difference between the two final plans but Option B meant he wouldnt have to touch Cedarcrests existing routes.
Debbie McAnaw teaches seventh-grade English there and said the difference between the two plans was like night and day.
The last thing you want to do is mess up kids, mess up their friends, if you dont have to, McAnaw said. They are herd animals, they are all about their friends, their peers. If I had my way we would go with Option B and call it a night.
And thats exactly what happened.

The nuts and bolts:
Grove Elementary School wont open until 2008 at the earliest, but attendance boundaries for it and the 10 existing elementary school have to be established before the committee could work on the new middle school configuration, because the two interlock like Legos. For planning purposes, the Grove boundary will exist in deciding who goes where, and that will be:
Totem Middle School: The Marysville Junior High School campus will be renamed in honor of the pole carved by Tulalip Indian carver Kelly Moses and will house about 790 students from Allen Creek, Grove, Quil Ceda and Tulalip elementary schools.
Marysville Middle School will serve 950 students from Liberty, Marshall, Shoultes and Sunnyside elementaries.
Cedarcrest Middle School will matriculate students from Cascade, Kellogg Marsh and Pinewood elementary schools.
The plan can be tweaked over the next 18 months, and there are exceptions for stand-alone programs like special needs and Highly-Capable students. Cedarcrest hosts students more seriously impacted by disabilities and has specialized facilities to aid them there. That program will stay put. Behaviorally-challenged and emotionally troubled kids with autism or Aspergers Syndrome dont need the hardware and can helped in other schools.
We havent decided which program makes the most sense at which school, Rogers said. It was a high priority of the school board to distribute special education equitably.
Currently the districts Hi-Cap program serves 2 percent of the student body, considerably lower than other districts who help about 5 percent. According to Rogers, that will change.
It would mean more access for students.
The recommendation now goes before the school board for extensive jawboning.
First will be a workshop on Monday, March 12 at 6:30 p.m., for board review and discussion, then two public meetings for questions, answers and comments on March 20 and 21 at 6 p.m., then the boundary committee meets on the 22nd at 6 p.m., then its back to the school board for a workshop discussion on March 26 at 6:30 p.m. and a final vote on April 9, same time. All meetings are in the board room at district headquarters, 4220 80th St. NE, in Marysville. For more information, the service center number is 360-653-7058.

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