After a nearly two-year long study and changes to the structure of the Marysville Getchell High School campus’ small learning communities (SLCs), which include the Academy of Construction and Engineering, BioMed Academy, International School of Communications, and School for the Entrepreneur, the Marysville School District Board of Directors voted on the recommendation at the school board meeting held August 6. The recommendation, presented by Interim Superintendent Jason Thompson, was to develop high school boundaries for two comprehensive high schools including elementary and middle-level feeder patterns and to maintain choice programs at Tulalip Heritage High School and Mountain View Arts & Technology High School including maintaining Alternative Learning funded programs.
During the Board of Directors meeting, the recommendation proposed was modified through a request from a board member to include a second part that would form three citizen advisory committees to include the addition of an Equity and Diversity committee as opposed to two as outlined in Mr. Thompson’s full report: Enrollment and Demographics and Deeper Learning, to be formed following the approved recommendation from the Board of Directors to move high schools from choice to boundaries, following a feeder pattern that begins at the elementary level.
The District strongly maintains that it must provide the very best possible academic, social, and emotional experience for every child served. From the time when the SLCs began to deconstruct to today has not been an easy process. It has been full of passion, frustration, confusion, and hours of work and study. The deconstruction began when a budget crisis three years prior created a reduction in staffing which impacted the SLC models. In addition, students and parents wanted more class options and choices which resulted in cross-over classes being formed between the SLCs, thus having similar schedules and that created even more of a ‘feeling’ of becoming a comprehensive high school. The District contracted with two separate consulting firms to study the SLC model: the Washington Association of School Administrators (WASA) and Strategies 360. They were given the similar charge to review the program and determine what would best meet the needs of every student. The WASA study included a focus on studying the program, budget and operations, and overall academic offerings for students with the SLC model. Strategies 360 did a nearly year-long study that included community engagement through face-to-face meetings, polls, surveys, and a large-scale stakeholder Dream Big event.
The action of the Board of Directors to move to high schools with boundaries gives District staff the opportunity to begin the next phase of the work.
What are the next steps for the school district?
The formation of three citizen advisory committees to study and make recommendations for the following areas:
- Equity and Diversity
- Enrollment and Demographics
- Deeper Learning
Through discussion with the Board of Directors during their work study session where a sample work plan and a timeline was shared, the members recognized that the schedule is aggressive and acknowledged the District may not be able to implement new boundaries until the 2020-21 school year. District staff was charged with forming the Equity and Diversity and the Enrollment and Demographics committee immediately, with a later formation of the Deeper Learning committee.
Each committee will be comprised of parents, students, and community members. The District is in the process of developing the criteria for committee membership, including application, the scope of work and timeline. This information will be shared with the Board of Directors before proceeding.
The District would like to thank the parents, students and staff who have participated in this work through sharing their feelings and convictions – positive or negative, and giving their time to make certain all voices were heard and all ideas were considered. A lot has been learned from this process and will continue to be learned as the process moves forward.
The Marysville School District looks forward to continuing the work with our students, parents, staff, and Marysville and Tulalip community members as it continues to strive to provide the best academic, social, and emotional experience for every child in the District using a lens of equity and putting a focus on serving the whole child in every decision that is made. To read more about this process, visit bit.ly/2OrgI8W.