The Marysville School District must be feeling like it had to eat some crow on Thanksgiving.
After preaching transparency to bring the community together for education, its decision to hire Jason Thompson came with little public involvement.
Thompson has been at the forefront of the effort to work more with the public and involve it in decision-making. He knows the community has felt short-changed in the past. The long public process of deciding what to do with the two major high schools in town is an example of that effort.
However, while the board shares that goal, when it came to naming Thompson, it felt they already had the right man for the job, and it would be unnecessary to delay a decision or do a nationwide search as was previously announced.
The decision was not unanimous. Two directors abstained from voting – not because they don’t think Thompson is doing a good job, but because they wanted a more public process.
While I agree a more public process was needed – if only to save face – I can’t argue with the end result.
Thompson has done a fantastic job as acting and then interim superintendent. I have to admit when he was first appointed, I had my reservations. He’s a Human Resources guy, or at least that was a position he had.
But he has shown so much more than that. He has made great gains with the teachers union and Tulalip Tribes. He really understands how schools need to provide a variety of learning experiences. Not every kid goes to college. Thompson realizes there are other great jobs in society that are a better fit for some kids. He wants to keep students in school and get them trained to be productive members of society.
He also understands how fast the world is changing. He knows some teaching methods are outdated almost as soon as they are introduced. He wants students to learn concepts instead so know matter where life takes them, they have the skills to re-learn and be successful. It’s no longer what you know – it’s what you have the ability to learn.
We needed to promote from within the Marysville School District. We did a nationwide search years ago and found Becky Berg. She had the district heading in the right direction before having to resign for medical reasons. Thompson was one of the people Berg brought with her from the Spokane area. He has already shown he is going to continue what she started. That consistency is important. We do not want to start all over again by hiring someone from Anywhere, USA. If we would have done that there would have been new goals, new direction, etc. The last few years would have been a waste of time. We have a lot of years invested in Berg’s team. Let’s let them keep moving us forward.
And while I am all about public involvement, the public really has had years to give feedback on Thompson, first as HR director, then as assistant superintendent, and then as acting and interim superintendent. If there were issues, they should have been brought up. There was plenty of time for input.
I am perturbed that the board starting discussing this in August and had not made the public aware of it. I attend most of their meetings, and I hadn’t heard about it until the district announcement the week before. I wonder when they were discussing it.
However, I believe we elect the board to represent us. They don’t always have to ask our opinion. It would be nice, but they don’t have to.
If the board had decided Nov. 19 to delay the vote, the process would have just been a dog and pony show, caving in to those who spoke that night against the process.
We have the right man for the job. We have learned, I hope, that divided we fall, united we stand. Based on the standing ovation the board and Thompson received after the vote, I have to say if we unite behind this team it will lead us in the right direction.
Steve Powell is the managing editor of The Marysville Globe-The Arlington Times. His Backseat Coach column runs as the need arises.