I love Marysville. I have lived here most of my life, and my husband and I are raising our two children here. I left for a few years to pursue my education and start my career, but I always knew I would return to this community.

I love Marysville. I have lived here most of my life, and my husband and I are raising our two children here. I left for a few years to pursue my education and start my career, but I always knew I would return to this community.

When I had the opportunity to run for elected office last year, I spent a lot of time talking to residents about our strengths and our opportunities. One message I heard over and over again was the importance of knowing our budget and living within those means.

Budgets are the building blocks of any operation. They should address what resources are available to support the mission of the organization and should reflect the concerns and needs of those individuals affected by that plan. As we are currently crafting the 2009 budget for the City of Marysville, I have spent many hours working with city council and city employees reviewing what is available to support our services and how these funds are aligned with the needs of our citizens.

The Marysville school system also makes similar choices each time it develops its annual budget. School administrators consult with members of the school board to assess what financial support is available to support operations and then make the best decisions they can to provide our students with an education.

Fewer available resources means less can be done to serve our students. Just like the city has to make tough decisions on how we will use our limited resources, the Marysville school district has to do the same. Because the last few levies have not been approved, our schools have had to make some tough decisions. Busing service has been reduced, class sizes expanded and fees have been increased to cover a lack of resources.

There is good news, however. These recent, tough decisions have encouraged dialogue between the schools and many interested citizens who want to better understand how our schools are funded, what our schools are required to do and how we can support the educational system. I have participated personally on one of these groups and spent a number of hours learning more about our schools and the many needs it has to educate our students.

At the same time, leaders in our school system have listened to the needs and concerns of our community. The community has been surveyed about its most pressing concerns, and that input has been factored into the school district's future plans. If the school levies pass in November, new funds will be used to expand and enhance services that were ranked as the most important by our citizens - things like decreasing classroom sizes and reducing extracurricular fees.

In any difficult time, we have to look for the silver lining. While it has been a challenging time for our schools, it has also provided an opportunity for citizen leaders to better understand the needs of the schools and for school leaders to understand the concerns of citizens. I believe in the work that has been done, and that is why I will be voting for both Marysville school levies on Election Day.

We have so much to be proud of here in Marysville. We have a strong community, successful businesses and good neighbors. It is truly a place where we want to live, work and raise our families. Let's give our schools the tools they need to prepare our youth for today and for tomorrow.

Chris Schmenk is the mayor of Marysville.

Chris

Schmenk