Marietta BOE to seek bond levy in November

A monumental step was taken by the Marietta City Schools board of education Thursday night as it voted unanimously to place a bond levy for $55,670,000 on the November ballot.

The money, if approved by voters, will be used to build new schools at a site on the Washington State Community College campus. The existing buildings in the system – a high school, a middle school, and four elementary schools – are in scattered locations around the city and are old, with the most recently constructed building, Marietta High School, having opened more than 50 years ago.

“Last month, we did a school construction bond application … and the form from the auditor told us the millage will be 5.36,” treasurer Frank Antill said. “Tonight, we need a resolution to proceed. Tomorrow, it will be certified by the auditor and the board of elections, and that will place it on the Nov. 5 ballot.”

All board members were present, and all voted in favor of the resolution.

With a mill rate of 5.36 (dollars per thousand dollars of assessed value), the levy would place taxation amounting to about $187 a year on a home with a retail value of $100,000, which board member Russ Garrison noted would have a taxable value of $35,000.

“Less than 50 cents a day,” board president Doug Mallett said.

Garrison noted that the project is eligible for state support of 39 percent of approved total costs. The board said in June the total project cost will be about $85 million.

“Now, we just have to bring it home, pass the levy,” Mallett said.

The board also received a report on the PAX program, initiated in elementary schools last year. Dick Wittberg, who helped the district with the program, said he was astonished to find that it delivered exactly what was promised: a 75 percent decrease in disruptive behavior.

PAX, also known as the good behavior game, is an internationally recognized system of rewarding good behavior and inhibiting unwanted behaviors to teach young children self-regulation, improve social relations and reduce impulsivity.

“After the first full year of implementation, unfocused behavior was cut by 75 percent, just like the model said it would. Since that’s true, I can’t help but think the other predictions probably are true as well – less teacher burn-out, less tendency to addiction by students,” Wittberg said.

“It’s been an unbelievable success,” Mallett said.

In other matters, the board:

∫ Approved an increase of $10 a day, to $100, for substitute teachers.

∫ Received an update on curriculum changes from curriculum director Jona Hall, who noted that English will include a semester of studies in which students will be able to choose from among 15 literary categories, ranging from British and American literature to science fiction, the early works of Stephen King and the poetry of Bruce Springsteen and friends.

∫ Welcomed the district’s new athletic director, Cody Venderlic.

The next meeting of the board is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Aug. 26 at the administrative offices.

Michael Kelly can be reached at mkelly@mariettatimes.com