Marysville teachers use furlough day to protest state budget cuts

MARYSVILLE — Corina Hansen stood near State Avenue, waving a handmade sign at drivers.

The Liberty Elementary School first-grade teacher joined hundreds of other teachers along the avenue during an event meant to bring attention to proposed state cuts to education funding.

“We’re out here to support public schools and to let legislators know that we’re tired of the cuts,” Hansen said. “The cuts need to end and priority one needs to be quality education for all.”

The Marysville School District has made $21 million in budget cuts over the past four years. Officials estimate that cuts proposed by Gov. Chris Gregoire that include the loss of levy equalization funds will result in an additional $6 million in budget reductions next year for the district.

The Marysville Education Association organized a rally along State Avenue this afternoon as a way to bring attention to the proposed budget cuts.

The hourlong event occurred on an early release day for students and one of seven planned furlough days for teachers in the district. The furlough days are a result of a 1.9 percent salary reduction imposed by the Legislature last year. The Everett, Granite Falls, Lake Stevens, Monroe, Snohomish and Sultan school districts also all have furlough days scheduled this year.

About 500 teachers, district officials, students and parents rallied at intersections between Fourth and 100th streets. Many wore red to represent the district or waved signs. Alexandria Sund, a fourth-grader at Liberty Elementary, joined others at 10th Street as they chanted “Save Our Schools.”

“We’re holding signs for our schools so we get a good education,” said Alexandria, 10. “If we don’t learn much then we won’t get a good scholarship.”

The district won’t know what cuts it will need to make until after the current legislative session ends, Assistant Superintendent Gail Miller said.

“We want to be planning and thinking about next year and we’re hoping this is the bottom and they can turn this around because (education) is their paramount duty,” Miller said. “It’s amazing what is lacking in Washington state compared to other states.”

Karen Anderson brought her two sons, Karl, 13, who attends 10th Street Middle School, and Leif, 11, a student at Kellogg Marshall Elementary, to the rally. They started out at 76th Street NE and walked a mile to Fifth Street with their signs, stopping to join clumps of teachers and parents from other schools along the way.

“We’re paying for basic education out of our pockets at our schools just to buy batteries for calculators,” Anderson said. “The kids aren’t really getting a whole lot out of two-hour furlough days.”

The parent volunteer said she wanted to show support for teachers and remind people who are not supporting schools why it’s important.

Hansen, who has three children who attend Marysville schools, plans on Monday to be part of a Washington State PTA rally in Olympia.

“We have to get (legislators) to listen,” she said.

Amy Daybert: 425-339-3491; adaybert@heraldnet.com.

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