Discipline improved, Marysville schools say

MARYSVILLE – Ah, the commons areas.

Those stretches of hallway and asphalt between classrooms. Where horseplay often goes too far, and students wind up headed to the principal’s office.

Six schools in Marysville focused last year on improving how students get from class to class. They are reporting both anecdotal and statistical success.

Marysville Middle School recorded more than 50 percent fewer discipline complaints last year. The school focused on a new policy for behavior in hallways that included lessons from teachers on what they expect.

Teachers also monitored students more closely between classes.

“I know the staff at Marysville Middle bought into it,” said assistant superintendent Gail Miller, who attended training sessions at the school.

“They worked very hard at building the idea that school discipline is about everybody interacting with kids,” Miller said. “It’s not just about the main office. One or two people can’t be responsible for 1,000 kids.”

At Cascade Elementary School, each student was given a designated place in line. Staff reported fewer discipline issues and smoother transitions between classes because students weren’t jockeying for preferred places in line.

The six schools worked with Safe and Civil Schools, a program out of Eugene, Ore., that helps schools reduce discipline problems. The district spent about $75,000 on the consultants, teacher time for training and other related costs.

Other schools that are part of the pilot project include Quil Ceda and Shoultes elementaries, Cedarcrest middle school and Marysville Junior High.

The focus this year will shift to discipline inside the classroom, but each school will also look for other ways to improve.

Marysville Middle School, for instance, will focus on tardiness, bus lines and after-school policies.

The district has other discipline-related initiatives scheduled for next year, said Superintendent Larry Nyland.

Each school will come up with its own discipline plan and all principals and assistant principals will get training on harassment and bullying issues.

At the same time, the district will emphasize efforts to make the classroom seem more personal to all students, Nyland said.

Much of the challenge is making sure students understand expectations, he said.

“You need to teach it and you need to expect it until it becomes a learned behavior,” he said.

Reporter Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446 or stevick@heraldnet.com.

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