Marysville School Board votes to postpone Getchell sports

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MARYSVILLE — Those hoping to see the Marysville Getchell Chargers take the field will have to wait until the fall of 2012.

The Marysville School Board was faced with the decision of postponing Getchell athletics for another season or finding another way to accommodate the legislative cuts in spending that stemmed from a one-day special session in December and a projected $2.5 million shortfall in the district's budget next year.

"This is one of the toughest decisions we've had to make," said board member Chris Nation after the motion passed 4-1 on Jan. 10. "We've had back-to-back-to-back-to-back cuts, but when they affect students, they hurt the most and we realize (sports is) a part of the educational experience."

The decision, which was made in front of a large audience at the Marysville School District Service Center, stirred up much debate as to what was best for the community.

Adding varsity and JV sports for the 2011 season will end up costing $576,000 for a district that is now, in the wake of state cuts, expecting a shortfall of $2 million in this year's budget.

Ultimately, the board was presented three options with each having differing degrees of eliminating some middle school sports to pay start-up costs, and which year to increase the budget to begin Chargers athletics.

The second plan, which was endorsed by school superintendent Dr. Larry Nyland and passed, eliminates pre-existing Getchell "C" squads for the spring season, as well as middle school swimming and seventh-grade team sports of football and basketball. The $260,000 saved from eliminating those programs would then go toward the $300,000 it will cost to purchase start-up equipment and uniforms for all Getchell teams, and the 2012-13 budget would be increased by $316,000 to cover the rest of the costs.

"I'm never happy to have to cut stuff," said Marysville School District Athletic Director Greg Erickson. "But the big picture is education isn't being funded and athletics is one of the areas that can be cut."

The school will now adopt a plan similar to one Erickson originally proposed a year and a half ago, but not because of funds, but scheduling as Getchell would start playing in the middle of a two-year league cycle, which would have created scheduling problems. The reason the decision had to be made before other budget issues was because the Western Conference needed a decision so it could start scheduling for the 2011-12 season in early February.

Not everyone was in favor of the decision, although not because they didn't see a need to cut anything. Some in opposition didn't want middle school sports to be affected while others don't like the idea of having Getchell have "C" teams for part of 2010-2011 and then nothing the following year which could leave sophomores in a state of limbo for a year.

"I'm worried because we want to promote more people moving to Marysville, that we're not giving people the same opportunities that other communities are," said John Natterstad, a teacher at Getchell who coached "C" football and now coaches boys "C" basketball. "Some kids don't care, some kids do and some are talking about leaving."

Getchell students will still be able to participate in Marysville-Pilchuck "C" teams, junior varsity and varsity sports in the 2011-12 season.

There is the chance that kids transfer to another school, which would hurt the district more as it receives $6,000 per student per year from the state, but in the end, the board said the decision came down to cutting on the field or in the classroom.

"Education is the foundation for our kids' success and, as tough as this decision is, we have to be mindful of that," said school board member Wendy Fryberg.

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