With the Nov. 5 general election approaching and ballots going to voters next week, the editorial board offers the following endorsements for the Marysville School District.
Serving more than 10,000 students at 27 schools, the Marysville district faces challenges in bringing up student test scores to match its peers in the county. Nearly 50 percent of the district’s students qualify for free or reduced meals, and 42 percent of its students are children of color.
The district also is considering how to replace at least some of its aging schools. The board currently is considering a $120 million project list, including replacement of two elementary schools, and needs to decide on putting a bond or capital levy election before voters next year.
A recent earthquake safety review by the state regarding schools included Marysville in its assessments: Of nine Marysville school buildings reviewed, six were judged as posing a “very high” life-safety risk in the event of an earthquake; two as “high” and one as “moderate high.” The buildings reviewed were built between 1951 and 1966.
District 2: Incumbent Mariana Maksimos is challenged by Paul Galovin for the position’s four-year term.
Maksimos has served on the board for four years. She has professional training in management and human resources and has participated in school board director training at workshops and conferences. The editorial board was unable to schedule a meeting with Maksimos. In her statement in the county voters guide, Maksimos said her goal in serving on the board is ensuring student success and happiness. She has two children at district schools.
Galovin is making his first run for public office. He has served in the Army National Guard for 18 years and has worked as a union carpenter for 11 years. He also has served as a delegate to the Snohomish County Labor Council. He is a parent with children in the district.
Galovin said he struggled as a student, in part because family moves took him to a succession of schools. It wasn’t ideal for his own education, but it demonstrated for him the differences between poor schools and good schools, where he was given more guidance and direction for his education. Galovin said he hopes to use those insights in reviewing district policy and encouraging community involvement in board decisions.
His work as a carpenter also would offer the board background as it further develops programs for vocational education and career-connected learning, in particular a pre-apprenticeship program.
Galovin also has served on the district’s facility committee as it considered which construction projects and improvements to give priority. Even recognizing the overwhelming need for new construction in the district, Galovin doesn’t support an effort in the state Legislature that would lower the voter-approval rates for bonds from the current 60 percent supermajority to a simple majority. He said he believed it’s important for the district to have to hit the higher passage mark in order to win greater overall confidence from district voters and residents.
Matched with his personal experiences and knowledge, Galovin’s stated commitment to students, families and the Marysville community recommends him to voters in the editorial board’s opinion.
District 3: Peter H. Lundberg, a school board member since winning election in 2011 and with past experience as a teacher and administrator in Washington schools, is running unopposed.
District 5: Incumbent Tom Albright is challenged by Halleh Stickles.
Albright was appointed to a vacancy on the board in 2010 and won election in 2011 and 2015. Retired as a Methodist pastor and district superintendent, he also has served as a chaplain and support officer with the Marysville police and fire departments.
Stickles is making her first run for office. She has worked as an emergency substitute teacher, para-educator and science club educator. A Marysville resident since 2004, Stickles is a mother of three sons attending district schools and has volunteered in classrooms and with the PTA. Stickles did not respond to requests for an interview with the editorial board. In the voters guide, she expressed a commitment to provide equal opportunities to all students for achievement, finding the mix of services that will help each student graduate and encouraging community involvement.
Albright, seeking his third full term on the board, said he has put his focus on improving the availability of technology for students, curriculum, replacing and renovating schools and equity for students.
The district does face challenges in terms of raising test scores and student achievement, in part because of the district’s level of poverty and in meeting the needs of minority students, he said.
To address how it is serving students, the board took the opportunity of the resignation of its former superintendent because of health reasons to begin a review of the district’s values and its strategic plan, work that is nearing completion and will help guide improvements for students and families, Albright said.
Regarding the district’s school construction needs and its history of bond failures, Albright admitted the board will have to make a difficult choice between seeking a bond or a capital levy. Capital levies require only a simple majority for passage, but are more limited in their potential scope than are bonds. Albright said he would support legislation to lower the bond passage requirement to a simple majority.
Albright has helped the board pursue needed assessment and improvements for the district and should be returned to the board by voters.