After 'massive' budget deficit, Marysville parents & educators protest extension of superintendent's contract

A group of educators, coaches, parents and students protested outside the Marysville School District Board meeting against the possibility of a contract extension for the school superintendent, Zachary Robbins.  

Robbins came to the district in June of 2022 from Las Vegas, Nevada where he previously served as principal of Cheyenne High School, according to an online bio. 

The superintendent and his leadership team have been questioned by parents, educators, and union leaders after a massive budget deficit was announced months ago, putting educators' jobs on the chopping block along with some student programs and activities. 

Around 100 people gathered outside the school district offices before the meeting, chanting, "What do we want? No extension! When do we want it? Now!"

"We are asking the board to listen to us, and this is again another pivotal moment, tonight to see if they are going to do that," said Jalleh "J" Hooman, a concerned parent and part of the Marysville Community Coalition. 

Hooman says she spearheaded a petition asking the board not to go through with a contract extension for Robbins. She says he still has another couple of years on his current contract, and the school board should wait for a decision to extend until he delivers on promises.  

"We don’t want his contract extended. We want him to start to show us accountability, communication and transparency before we maybe start to turn a corner," said Hooman.  

Hooman said the petition circulating online, has collected around 1,100 signatures so far.  

"We want the school board to look at the results, and right now, the results are not there, and there is really no harm in delaying," said Travis Marsh, Marysville Coaching Association President.


Parents demand transparency as Marysville School District says more budget cuts need to be made

Budget cuts are impacting students in Marysville, where the conversation has continued for months regarding the potential of larger classes, no sports and less staff.

It was standing room only at the 6 p.m. school board meeting later in the evening, as board members considered the possibility of extending the contact.  

During the public comment period, leadership from the Marysville Education Association said there was a lack of transparency with the district's financial situation, adding, it was "not the time to extend the contract."  

A large round of applause followed.

Superintendent Robbins did not appear in person at Monday's meeting. 

As for the budget cuts, the school district issued a statement:

February 5, 2024

"The Marysville School District is aware of a rally planned by individuals from the district’s labor groups and community before the regularly scheduled school board meeting tomorrow, February 5, 2024. The rally may draw some attention from local media, which encouraged the district to provide a statement to help build an understanding of the current situation.

The Marysville School District is in binding conditions with the State, meaning we do not have enough revenues to pay for expenditures. The reported deficit was $17.5M initially, but with a healthier ending fund balance from the 2022 - 2023 school year and the financial team’s work to implement systems, including collaboration with the state and the Northwest Education Services District, the district was able to reduce the deficit. In the last communication to staff and the public, the district shared that the deficit is now approximately $5.9M, but more work is needed to reduce it further.

School district finance is complex. As any organization operates throughout a fiscal year, the bottom line budget numbers fluctuate as revenues come in and expenditures go out, which can create confusion, especially for those not directly involved in the day-to-day financial operations of the school district.

"The Board of Directors understands the financial challenges facing our school district and appreciates the dedication of Superintendent Robbins not only to the success of our students but also to work through the difficult financial times that he inherited coming into the school district," said Wade Rinehardt, president on the board of directors. "We support his efforts." 

"During Dr. Robbins’s leadership, he successfully passed a levy measure in the spring of 2023, which helped the district’s financial state after two failed attempts the previous year. Without that levy passage, the situation would be much worse," said Connor Krebbs, vice president of the board of directors.

The district believes collaboration is the key to finding solutions to build an understanding of the budget. The district will continue to meet with labor groups now and in the future to help develop an understanding of the district’s financial status and budget. 

"We are committed to collaborating to explore all options and propose constructive solutions to address these challenges. We believe, together, we can ensure a strong financial future for our school district and continue providing a quality education for all students," said Superintendent Robbins."

"I would like to see more improvement on campus," said Grayson Huff, a student. 

It's not just adults who are focused on what's happening in the schools. Huff said he had his opinions as well. 

"It's just been a long time since we had new stuff at our school and I think a lot of that money is going to administrators who are getting paid more than a usual salary," said Huff.  

Ultimately, the school board unanimously voted in favor of the contract extension and passed the motion. The protesters expressed dissatisfaction with the decision. One woman shouted, "don't get comfortable," to members of the board. 

Some of those in attendance on Monday said they'd like to begin a recall effort for board members.