Marysville to discuss board’s travel rule

MARYSVILLE – The Marysville School Board will look at its own travel and stipend policies at a work session tonight.

Both have been touchy issues in a district that has faced tough financial times.

The board decided to review its policies after some members were caught off guard that board President Vicki Gates was traveling to New York to observe a literacy program.

Three school administrators and Gates traveled to New York City last week to see reading-instruction methods that emphasize coaching and continuous training for teachers. It’s a strategy Marysville may adopt.

The $4,339 in travel money came from Initiative 728, and the University of Washington arranged the trip. Voters in 2000 approved the initiative to earmark money for improving schools, with training being one of the allowed expenses.

The trip appeared on the consent agenda at the board’s Jan. 3 meeting and resulted in an unusual 2-0 vote with Gates, who will collect a stipend while she missed work, and board members Michael Kundu and Ron Young abstaining.

Neither Kundu nor Young were aware of a board member taking the trip until it appeared before them that night. They also learned that the district already had purchased Gates’ airline ticket before the vote.

Young noted that a similar literacy program exists in the Highline School District in Burien, and a Marysville contingent had visited schools there. He questioned the need for a board member to go to the East Coast.

Superintendent Larry Nyland said it was his idea to get a board member to see the program in New York, where it has been in place longer. Also, Gates had not attended the trip to Burien, Nyland said.

He said questions of board member travel and stipends have come up in board meetings. It needs to be consistent, he added.

“There is a little glitch in our policies and procedures,” he said. “My suggestion is we be more formal about it.”

Young said it will be worthwhile for everyone to discuss board travel and stipend policies.

“I think there will be great value so we all have a clear understanding of how we get paid with our stipends,” he said.

Tonight’s work study session begins at 6:30 p.m. but the board is not expected to begin discussing travel and stipend policies until about 8 p.m. The board will meet at district headquarters, 8220 80th St. NE, Marysville.

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