Some balk at sharing campus

MARYSVILLE – A proposal to move three small schools onto one campus is running into resistance in Marysville.

The Marysville School District is considering placing Marysville Arts &Technology High School, Tulalip Heritage School and Tenth Street School on the same land near Quil Ceda Elementary School.

Although each would have its own campus, they would share some facilities. The cost could be up to $20 million.

The possibility that middle school students would have to share a gym and cafeteria space with high school students prompted about 60 Tenth Street teachers, parents and students to show up for a Marysville School Board meeting Monday.

About a third spoke, urging the board to either allow their school to move and get a separate 6,800-square-foot gym or let it stay where it is on a campus of portables and an old YMCA gym.

“I wouldn’t like to ride a bus with high school students because I’ve seen them, and they scare me,” said Jacob Miller, a sixth-grader. “What they talk about isn’t really appropriate for the kids at Tenth Street. I really don’t feel safe around them.”

So far, there is only one definite tenant for the land: Marysville Arts &Technology High School, which would move from a leased building.

Tulalip Heritage School, a high school that emphasizes American Indian culture, and Tenth Street School, a middle school where students take music and art all three years, are on the fence.

The district’s goal is to provide new classrooms for each of the schools and to reduce energy and maintenance costs. Combining the three schools and having them share a gym would also make sense for state matching money for future construction projects, school officials said.

Brian Churchill has been a Tenth Street math teacher since the school opened 11 years ago.

He said he would be excited about a new building, but only if it moves forward the existing program and allows the school to maintain its autonomy.

“I fear that decisions made based upon dollar amounts rather than the learning needs of our students will harm Tenth Street’s program,” Churchill said. “One dollar-based decision by the school board could undo years of progress made in the evolution of our successful program.”

Board member Michael Kundu said existing curriculum needs to be considered.

“We need to look at what we are currently doing,” he said. “I think that is absolutely critical.”

District officials had hoped the board could make a decision on the secondary campus by May 1, but that deadline was lifted after Monday’s meeting.

The district showed four options for the secondary options campus, including one with a 12,000-square-foot gym and cafeteria shared among the three schools, and one with a 12,000-square-foot gym for Arts &Technology and Heritage and a 6,500-square-foot gym for Tenth Street.

The latter option would add about $2 million to the project and could create equity issues with other schools, according to a district memo.

Preliminary estimates range from about $8 million for a stand-alone Arts &Technology campus to as much as $20 million for all three schools.

Building an Arts &Technology campus by itself without a gym would allow the school to open in fall 2007 and provide more time to resolve concerns about the gym and other issues.

The ultimate goal is to get students into a better learning space, and, in the case of Arts &Technology, save money with a permanent home instead of a lease that expires in 2007. This year, it’s costing the district about $150,000 for the lease and $120,000 for improvements.

“We can do better for facilities for kids and looking at the economics,” said John Bingham, the district’s capital projects director. “We are just trying to improve the learning environment.”

The project, which would use factory-built, custom-designed classrooms, is not connected to the $118 million bond measure voters passed in February. That measure will pay for a new high school and elementary school, among other improvements.

The modular campus would be paid for with mitigation money – fees paid when new homes are built to offset growth-related impacts. The school district receives an average of $6,800 on each new home built.

Reporter Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446 or

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