After turmoil, search for Marysville superintendent begins

A new leader won’t be a fix-all, says the School Board president. It’s just a start.

MARYSVILLE — The community has high expectations for a new Marysville School District superintendent.

Some families expect a new superintendent will be a fix-all for the district’s varied challenges, said Marysville School Board President Paul Galovin. But he said the superintendent will only be a starting point.

“They want a lot of change,” Galovin said, “and so we’re gonna try to impact that change by finding that next superintendent that’s going to be able to represent the community, and fight for our teachers and students to succeed.”

In the past couple of years, the school district has dealt with a global pandemic, racist death threats, unmasked protesters bombarding school board meetings and a debate over one school’s mascot. The previous superintendent, Jason Thompson, went on medical leave in March, then agreed to part ways this fall. He accused district leaders of a hostile work environment. Investigators found the majority of his claims to be unfounded.

Around 500 district residents gave input on the district’s current performance and what they want in a new superintendent through an online survey, interviews and forums, said Kris McDuffy, of GR Recruiting, who’s leading the search.

“Disappointed” and “frustrated” were among the top 10 words survey respondents used to describe their feelings about the district.

Respondents said they want a superintendent who leads by example, is accountable for their actions and is an effective communicator.

On Wednesday, the School Board approved a candidate profile shaped by those survey results. Recruiters will use that profile to narrow down finalists.

Board members also unanimously approved a base salary of $265,000 for the new superintendent. That’s comparable to other area districts. Both Monroe and Stanwood-Camano school districts pay their superintendent about $250,000. Those districts each have a student population about half the size of Marysville’s 10,000.

The top candidates will be shared with the board on Jan. 26, and they should narrow down the pool to about six to eight semifinalists by early February, McDuffy said. District residents will be able to sit in on interviews with finalists around mid-February.

What those interviews look like is still in development, McDuffy said. But there should be ample opportunity for staff, students, parents and other members of the community to participate in discussions with the candidates.

The board is to select a new superintendent by the end of the school year.

Isabella Breda: 425-339-3192; Twitter: @BredaIsabella.

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