MARYSVILLE — Three candidates for a seat on the Marysville School Board say they want to focus on communication, safety and improving graduation rates.
They also would deal with questions about funding capital projects and small learning communities.
Vanessa Edwards and Clarence Shaw are challenging incumbent Bruce Larson for a four-year term.
Edwards, 36, has an 11- and a 13-year-old in the district and worked as a secretary at Marysville Getchell High School for about four years. She’s leaving that job this summer. She previously worked in marketing and thinks she could help the district better communicate with families.
Edwards wants student and teacher advisory boards. While the school board relies on committees to help with specific issues, she wants permanent groups.
Marysville has high ninth-grade course failure rates and low graduation rates, compared to other local districts. Edwards thinks it’s tied to the size of middle schools. There are too many students and too few staff to offer more support programs.
A key reason Edwards decided to run was to fight for small learning communities at Marysville Getchell High School. The district has been considering changes there. The structure of the school — which has four separate academies — is expensive and facing declining enrollment.
“Sometimes that environment works better for kids,” Edwards said. “It needs to stay that way.”
She’d like to set up a foundation, pursue grants and make operations more efficient without doing away with the academies.
Larson thinks changes are needed at Marysville Getchell and supports decisions that were made to reduce the number of administrators, including principals. He thinks more crossover classes between the academies would be good. The school should be able to maintain a small learning community atmosphere, but the district also needs to figure out how to reduce transportation and administrative costs.
“We’re not going to do away with M-G,” he said. “I don’t see it within the next three years. But I do think there are things that need to change.”
The 69-year-old has been on the school board since 2014. He’s a Boeing retiree and his children went to Marysville schools.
His priorities include passing a bond to maintain and build schools, and a levy to keep up with technology. He aims to set aside money to continue counseling and support programs that were grant funded after the deadly 2014 shootings at Marysville Pilchuck High School. Larson also believes improving attendance is the best way to improve graduation rates. That means making sure educators call and meet with families when students are no-shows.
His experience on the Marysville School Board sets him apart, Larson said.
People in education have “a language of their own, and school finances are probably some of the most complicated financial aspects there are,” he said. “I have that experience.”
Clarence Shaw, 54, has elected experience, but not in Marysville. He moved from Monrovia, California, six years ago and previously ran for city council here. He retired from the U.S. Army Reserve and was on the school board and city council in Monrovia. His children and stepchildren are grown. Three went to Marysville schools.
“I do believe the city of Marysville is moving forward and trending in the right direction, but … the school district is the major barometer in measuring a community’s success,” he said.
He thinks passing a bond in a district where voters have been hesitant would come down to “running a campaign, not putting up signs.”
Data can help identify causes of tardiness, course failure and behavioral problems, he said. If there are schools where problems are pronounced, he’d take a look at the leadership and policies there.
Shaw doesn’t want big changes at Marysville Getchell.
“Just because we have a dwindling population somewhere, I don’t think that you go in and unravel a whole lot,” he said.
He wants to lean on the advice of staff, parents and students. The future of the high school shouldn’t be decided solely by the board or superintendent, he said.
Ballots for the Aug. 1 primary were mailed to voters last week.
Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; firstname.lastname@example.org.