More kids were leaping to high-five the Utsalady Elementary eagle mascot on the first day of school than expected a month ago.

The school was one of many in the district to get additional teachers — in particular more kindergarten positions as 45 more 5- and 6-year-olds enrolled districtwide than officials had estimated earlier in the summer.

“We had prepared for 297 kindergarten students when we planned staffing,” said Dan Johnston, the district’s assessment and technology director. “Registrations in August caused this to increase to 342.”

The district aims to have 19 kindergarteners per class, and Johnston said with that the new teachers the district is “now within one or two kids of that mark.”

In all, the district welcomed 26 teachers new to the district, including 13 starting their first year teaching — five of them former Stanwood High graduates. In addition, there are 14 new classified staff members — and officials said positions are still available.

The school board confirmed the new hires during their regular meeting Sept. 3. 

The board also examined preliminary estimates of the upcoming Educational Programs & Operations replacement levy. 

Officials estimate that voters will decide Feb. 11 on a four-year levy rate of $1.70 per $1,000 of assessed property value — about $510 a year on a $300,000 home. The levy, which accounts for about 15% of the district’s budget, would essentially renew the current expiring levy at the same rate. 

The board also approved a two-year agreement with the Marysville School District for the Regional Apprenticeship Program, which offers juniors and seniors pre-apprenticeship skills training that will lead to entry into an apprenticeship program after high school. 

This program has been designed to service school districts in north Snohomish County with input from local labor, business and county leaders, according to a memo to the board from Ross Short, the district’s director of the Career and Technical Education program.

The program goal is to help close the construction skills gap. Students in the program will spend 2.5 hours each day at Marysville Pilchuck High School and three class periods at Stanwood High School. 

“I’m excited to see that we can offer as many opportunities as possible for students,” school board member Natalie Hagglund said at the meeting.

Utsalady Elementary

David Howe poses for a photo with the Utsalady Elementary eagle mascot during the first day of school Sept. 4. 


Contact reporter Evan Caldwell at and follow him on Twitter @Evan_SCN for updates throughout the week and on Instagram @evancaldwell.scn for more photos.

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