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Marysville School Board delays school closure decision until 2010

MARYSVILLE — More than 100 people — mostly parents and staff of Liberty Elementary and the Marysville Cooperative Education Program — attended Tuesday night's meeting of the Marysville School Board expecting to learn if their school would be closed as part of the district's efforts to trim more than $3 million from is budget.

Instead, after more than 40 minutes of discussion and three motions, the board ultimately decided in a 3-2 vote to delay any decision on possible school closures until June of 2010, earning a round of applause from those in attendance.

Due to projected cuts in state funding and lower enrollment, the district is looking at ways to cut more than $3 million from its budget including the possible closure of Liberty, Cascade or Tulalip elementary schools; the closure of the swimming pool at Marysville-Pilchuck High School and the possible relocation of the Co-Op program which is currently housed at Quil Ceda Elementary. After weeks of planning and meetings with the public, the board was scheduled to make its final decision Tuesday night.

Board President Michael Kundu began the discussion by offering a motion that the board would cease all school and facility closure discussion until June of 2010.

In the following discussion, Board member Don Hatch Jr. expressed his concerns that putting discussion off until 2010 would be waiting too long. "This motion is to talk about it in 2010, and I think we should start in 2009 so that the general public will know what we are trying to accomplish."

Board member Sheri Crenshaw agreed with Hatch stating "I, too, understand what Director Hatch was referring to. If we put it off until June 2010 we might find ourselves way behind the eightball."

Other board members agreed and that motion failed unanimously.

Kundu then offered a second motion that the board would "cease all school and facility closure decisions until June of 2010." Again, other board members expressed concerns about the motion. Board member Cindy Erickson said she was concerned about the inclusion of facilities in the motion, saying it might be too restrictive should the board need to look at options such as closing the M-P pool or other facilities to reduce the budget.

The second motion suffered the same fate as the first, it failed unanimously.

Kundu then offered a third motion that the board would cease all school closure decisions until June of 2010. That motion was narrowly approved with Board members Erickson, Kundu and Crenshaw voting in favor and Board members Hatch and Darci Becker voting against it.

"The decisions that I make tonight are based on the fact that I don't think we have the best information at hand. I don't think we've done the best work with the information we do have," said Kundu. "I do think there is still a window of opportunity to look at different options — ways of reducing expenses perhaps and maybe increasing revenue."

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