Marysville schools receive $4.5 million for improvement

MARYSVILLE — Tulalip Elementary and Totem Middle School are set to receive $4.5 million of the $4.8 million in federal grants for which the Marysville School District applied.

Tulalip and Totem were named "schools in improvement" by the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. OSPI told MSD that the school district would need to choose one of four federally mandated models for each school to qualify for the federal school improvement grants. The district chose the "transformation" model for both schools.

Only 18 out of 41 schools across the state whose districts applied for the funds received them. OSPI issued a statement congratulating the Marysville School District "for your extraordinary and courageous work" on its school improvement grant application. The requested three-year grant amount was reduced from $4.8 million to $4.5 million.

Under the transformation model, both schools' existing staff members are retained but subjected to more stringent new standards of evaluation, and programs including curriculum revisions, extended learning hours for students and increased professional development for staff are implemented. The transformation model also requires the school principal to be replaced, but Tulalip is exempt from this requirement because it had already replaced its principal last year.

Current Totem Principal Judy Albertson will be replaced, although MSD Assistant Superintendent Gail Miller emphasized that Albertson would remain in the district and part of efforts to increase learning at Totem. According to Miller, the district can begin accessing those grants as early as this month.

The transformation model's measures will be implemented for the 2010-2011 school year. Albertson will remain as Totem's principal through the end of the current school year.

The district's next steps were to submit a two-page narrative, update its budget and revise its application for a public audience, all of which were due April 21. The grants will then be published on the OSPI and national websites as examples of successful grants.

MSD Superintendent Dr. Larry Nyland shared his thanks and appreciation to the team who represented Marysville in the grant interview process, which included not only Miller and Albertson, but also Chris Sampley, Shelly Lacy, Sheryl Fryberg, Anthony Craig, Arden Watson, Doug Tuckman and Heidi Johnsen. He further commended Miller for her leadership in the grant process.

"It was a good day, as we continued to learn from each other and build excitement about what is possible when we connect resources with good research and lots of community input," Nyland said of the interview.

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