A new Marysville superintendent, and a lot of hope for the future

Zachary Robbins is a high school principal in Las Vegas. He will take over a district mired in challenges.

MARYSVILLE — Zachary Robbins is Marysville School District’s new superintendent.

On Monday, the Board of Directors unanimously approved a three-year contract with Robbins, currently the principal of Cheyenne High School in Las Vegas. Robbins’ first day will be July 1.

Under the contract, Robbins will be paid a base annual salary of $265,000 plus benefits. That’s comparable to other districts like Monroe and Stanwood-Camano. Any future increases would be tied to a survey of salaries of superintendents in comparable regional school districts.

“I am absolutely humbled by this opportunity,” said Robbins, who joined the meeting by video. “Education provides the pathway to freedom and prosperity for so many people. And I appreciate your confidence in me with this important stewardship. It is a stewardship I take very seriously as I am the first in my family to graduate from college.”

The board voted unanimously to hire Robbins on Feb. 23, after narrowing down a pool of over 40 candidates to three finalists in early February.

Robbins, one of the first African American school principals in the state of Nevada, helped the Clark County School District build partnerships with organizations like Communities in Schools, a national organization connecting students with supportive adults and community resources.

He told The Daily Herald he hopes to build similar community, business and tribal partnerships in Marysville schools, “to catapult achievement forward.”

Board President Paul Galovin said Robbins’ contract “doesn’t have a whole lot of funny stuff or additions,” and is modeled after the district’s contract with former Superintendent Jason Thompson.

This will be Robbins’ first job as a superintendent. A “professional development” clause, stating the district will spend up to $6,000 for a “coach” in Robbins’ first year, is among the additions to the contract.

He will be expected to meet with the mentor twice a month for one to two hours each time, to assist “in his transition to a superintendency in the District and State.”

Galovin said Robbins exceeded some district residents’ expectations, according to feedback collected during superintendent finalists’ visit to Marysville.

Robbins began his career in education as an English teacher and later was a principal in the Boston Public Schools. He has studied and taught restorative practices to school leaders across the country and helped implement them in his own schools.

“He best fits what Marysville needs today … and to bring our district into tomorrow,” Galovin said before the vote.

The district serves nearly 11,000 students from Marysville and Tulalip Indian Reservation.

Teri Gobin, chairwoman of the Tulalip Tribes, said Robbins was the tribes’ recommendation.

“We are hopeful with his extensive experience he could bring positive changes for every student in the school district,” Gobin told The Herald.

District residents, some who said they felt “disappointed” and “frustrated” with Marysville schools when the superintendent search launched, are eager to see what Robbins can do.

“I don’t want my kid to (graduate) barely able to function academically,” said Jennifer Phillips, who has a first grader in the district. “Because I’m a blue collar worker and so are probably 70, 80% of the district. We’re working and commuting with high gas prices.”

Robbins will fill the gap left by Thompson, who began a leave of absence about a year ago. It was just days after he filed a complaint alleging “the Board of Directors of the Marysville School District — specifically the Board President at the time — have created a hostile, intimidating, and offensive work environment.” Investigators found insufficient evidence to support most of Thompson’s claims.

Interim Superintendent Chris Pearson stepped up to fill the role last July, but will soon be returning to “his true calling” in overseeing academics, Galovin said. “I’m very much looking forward to seeing him take off full time on getting our academics back into highlight.”

Herald writer Jerry Cornfield contributed to this report.

Isabella Breda: 425-339-3192; isabella.breda@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @BredaIsabella.