Here’s your sign: Volunteers try to help Marysville pass school levy

MARYSVILLE — Dean Ledford is not giving up.

Ledford, a 1954 graduate of Marysville High School, has been involved in Citizens for Marysville Schools since 1990.

In those 30 years, only two new schools have been built — Grove Elementary and Marysville Getchell High School. Voters approved that bond in 2006.

“We need to get rid of this,” he said, pointing to Liberty Elementary, built in 1951.

He and other volunteers were at that school Saturday picking up about 1,000 signs to display around town in support of a Feb. 11 building levy. Bryan Johnson also was there. He’s been a supporter of the new Regional Apprenticeship Pathways program at Marysville-Pilchuck High School. He and other labor union workers were there to do some of the heavy lifting on bigger signs that needed post-hole digging and other work.

“We’re here to help out and better our community,” he said.

The school district is running a levy that would build a new Liberty to open in 2022 and a new Cascade in 2024. It would also pay for security upgrades at all schools, including cameras and electronic access.

Public meetings to talk about the levy are planned for Jan. 16 at 5:30 p.m. at Liberty and at that same time Jan. 23 at Cascade.

Cascade and Liberty are so outdated it is more cost-effective to rebuild than remodel them, according to a community facility committee. Replacing them with safe, efficient buildings will save tax dollars over time, it adds.

If the levy passes, it would cost the average taxpayer of a $370,000 piece property about $2 a day. The $120 million measure would cost $1.93 per $1,000 valuation over just six years. It requires a 50 percent vote. There’s an exemption for qualifying seniors. Issues at Liberty include:

■ Classrooms have no doors, making it difficult to secure the space in an emergency.

■ Nine portables and hallways would no longer need to be used for learning.

■ Although safe to drink, aging galvanized pipes dispense discolored water.

■ The school does not have the electrical capacity to meet the needs of today’s technology, something voters already have said is a priority.

■ It has old plumbing, electrical and heating systems that are hard to get parts for.

■ There is asbestos in walls and floor tile. If contained it’s safe, but the danger is there.

Issues at Cascade include:

■ Classrooms are all open with breezeways between buildings making it difficult to secure the school in the event of an emergency.

■ The building suffered smoke and fire damage caused by outdated heating and electrical equipment two years ago.

■ The boilers are obsolete and parts are no longer available for repairs.

■ Rebuilding will eliminate five portables.

■ The school also does not have the electrical capacity for technology.

Finance director Mike Sullivan says in a district video, “I think we’ve done a good job keeping this building operating as long as we have, but over time things just wear out.”

At Monday’s City Council meeting, Sullivan said the district has been trying to regain the public’s trust by by painting, roofing and siding buildings to extend their longevity; updating curriculum; and by improving customer service. He also displayed a chart that shows that Marysville residents pay about half of what those in Snohomish, Everett and Edmonds pay for schools. Nearby Lakewood and Arlington pay a little more, at $1,235 and $974, than Marysville, at $930. Part of that in Marysville is for the 2006 bond, which costs taxpayers 91 cents per $1,000 valuation. It will be paid off in 2026.

Ray Sheldon and Chris Davis of Citizens for Marysville Schools also spoke Monday.

Sheldon reminded City Councilman Stephen Muller that they attended Cascade. “That was a long time ago,” Sheldon said. “We’re not going to grow until the schools improve. Successful towns have beautiful schools. Davis said he moved to town nine years ago and has seen an “exploding city grow up around me.”

“Schools feed our city from birth to death,” he said.

At the end of the meeting, Muller said he remembers when he was little there was an earthquake that destroyed the Cascade library.

“It wasn’t that good in the first place,” he said of the school’s construction.

“We need to step up. It’s way overdue.”