Committee approves $518 million bond proposal for Issaquah schools

June 4, 2015

A committee of parents, principals and other educational leaders has approved a plan that would ask Issaquah School District voters for more than a half-billion dollars to build four new schools and modernize several others.

At a May 6 meeting, the district’s bond feasibility and development committee approved a package that would raise $518.5 million in voter-approved funds. The bond measure would likely appear on ballots in spring 2016.

The final item to be added to the proposal is a big one: $120 million for a fourth comprehensive high school. The school would likely be built for a core population of 1,500 – smaller than Skyline and Issaquah high schools, but bigger than Liberty, which finished an expansion and modernization project last year.

Another $148.5 million would go toward building a new middle school and two new elementary schools. That would give the district a total of six middle schools and 17 elementary schools. Read more

Issaquah to increase secondary students’ time in classrooms

July 2, 2014

Middle-school and high-school students in the Issaquah School District will spend more time in the classroom in the 2014-15 year, after the school board approved a change at its June 11 meeting.

State law mandates an increase in instructional time for the 2015-16 year, but Issaquah will implement the switch a year earlier. To meet the requirement of 1,080 instructional hours, middle school and high school students will get out of class 45 minutes later on Wednesdays next year.

“This is the right thing to do for our students,” Superintendent Ron Thiele said in a news release. “Increasing instructional time is in alignment with our stakeholder values and the district’s mission and goals for students.”

The Issaquah Education Association, the union that represents classroom teachers, also approved the change. Get schedules for each of the district’s nine secondary schools at www.issaquah.wednet.edu/schools/belltimes.aspx.

Liberty, Maywood projects could be first in line to be completed with bond dollars

May 18, 2012

NEW — 1:20 p.m. May 18, 2012

The Issaquah School District is wasting no time when it comes to putting its recently-approved $219 million bond dollars into action.

The school board reviewed a preliminary schedule of projects and timeline for school construction and other district upgrades at its May 9 meeting. Some projects could begin as soon as July and others extend through the end of 2019.

“Somebody has to be first, and somebody has to be last,” said Jacob Kuper, chief operations officer for the district.

Phase 2 construction of Liberty High School and Phase 2 at Maywood Middle School are first in line with finishes projected by the end of 2013. At the caboose of the tentative timeline is the reconstruction of Sunny Hills Elementary School, which wouldn’t finish until December 2018.

Construction to improve Skyline High School’s stadium would begin April 2013 and run through September 2014. As a result, Skyline’s football team is likely to play away games for the entire 2013 season. Issaquah High School will have the same problem a few years later when its stadium remodel takes place from April 2016 to August 2017.

This summer, the district hopes to install artificial turf on the athletic fields at Beaver Lake and Maywood middle schools. It would then install turf fields at Pine Lake and Pacific Cascade middle schools the following summer.

“We didn’t want to take all the fields out over the course of the summer because it would be a huge impact on the community,” said Steve Crawford, director of capital projects for the district.

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$219 million bond calls for Liberty High School improvements

March 8, 2012

NEW — 4:30 p.m. March 8, 2012

Voting by mail in the weeks leading up to April 17, roughly 58,000 registered voters in the Issaquah School District will have the chance to decide whether the schools can sell $219 million in bonds to pay for major renovation and maintenance projects throughout the district.

The capital improvement plan presented by district officials includes a wide variety of projects, including replacing several schools, and installing new roofs and carpet at other facilities. The plan was created by a long process that started in early 2011 with meetings of a bond feasibility and development committee. That group made recommendations to Superintendent Steve Rasmussen and the package eventually had to earn the approval of the school board.

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Liberty class schedules won’t be changing soon, superintendent says

January 31, 2012

NEW — 3:55 p.m. Jan. 31, 2012

No major changes, at least not immediately.

That was essentially the recommendation of Issaquah School Superintendent Steve Rasmussen regarding possible adjustments to the schedules at the district’s four high schools.

But at the same time he made that recommendation to what proved to be a somewhat dissatisfied school board, Rasmussen did lay down several action steps he expects high school principals to take in the coming months.

District officials have been studying common schedules at the high schools in part in order to make better use of resources, including teachers. A schedule committee failed to come up with any final recommendation for a unified schedule, though they shared numerous findings on the overall issue.

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Issaquah School Board incumbents return

December 1, 2011

Brian Deagle, Suzanne Weaver retain seats

In the races for the two contested seats on the Issaquah School Board, the two incumbents outdistanced their general election opponents by similar margins.

“I’m glad to see the results the way they are,” board member Brian Deagle said shortly after initial vote totals were available.

Suzanne Weaver

Brian Deagle

As of Nov. 30, final numbers show Deagle defeated challenger Patrick Sansing 14,230 to 7,520 or 65 percent to 34.4 percent.

The other incumbent, Suzanne Weaver, outpaced challenger Brian Neville 14,005 to 8,091, or 63 percent to 36.5 percent.

Anne Moore will join the board in January; she ran unopposed for the seat to be vacated by board President Jan Colbrese.

Like Deagle, Weaver also expressed gratitude over the results.

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Bellevue resident Anne Moore readies to join school board

December 1, 2011

Long before the first ballot was mailed back to King County, Issaquah School District residents were guaranteed of seeing at least one new face on their school board of directors next year.

Bellevue resident Anne Moore ran unopposed for the District One seat being vacated by current board president Jan Colbrese.

“I will always be deeply invested in the Issaquah School District,” Colbrese said.

Anne Moore

But after what will be 12 years on the board, Colbrese said that following discussions with her husband, she decided it was time to move on. She further noted that all of her children have now graduated from district schools.

Colbrese announced her decision not to run in June, prior to the election filing deadline. Issaquah School District 1 covers an area of the district to the west of Issaquah and south to Coalfield and north to Lake Sammamish.

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Officials encourage council to support $219 million school bond

December 1, 2011

Issaquah School Board President Jan Colbrese knows the district must maintain equitable resources, infrastructure and quality education throughout its 15 elementary, five middle and four high schools.

That’s one reason the district will ask voters to support its April 17 $219 million capital improvement bond, which includes money for upgrades to nearly every school in the district — even during a time during such economic uncertainty, she said.

“Our problem is that we have children in school right now,” Colbrese said. “You can’t tell those kids, ‘I’m sorry, you’re in this economic time. It’s a really hard time.”

Members of the school board met with the Newcastle City Council on Nov. 7 to discuss the bond and other issues facing the district, including possible improvements to traffic flow in the drop-off area at Newcastle Elementary School.

“We’ll be coming to you with reports for support on this measure because if the district is soundly managed, and if the district is a place where people know a quality education is being provided, then it helps your city as well,” Colbrese said.

Because the new bond package is expected to be about half as much as the district’s bond debt that is retiring in 2012, residents in the district should see a decrease in school-related taxes, even if the bond is approved, according to the district.

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Gordon Bisset takes lead in contested City Council race

November 8, 2011

NEW — 8:45 p.m. Nov. 8, 2011

As ballots for the 2012 general election begin to roll in, Gordon Bisset has established a dominant lead over challenger Frank Irigon for the Newcastle City Council’s only contested race this year, according to information provided on the King County elections website.

With about 71 percent or 1,077 votes — of about 28 percent of the ballots counted so far — Bisset leads Irigon for the council’s fourth position. Irigon earned 28 percent of the vote, or 425 votes.

“I’m very pleased with the results,” Bisset said. “I’d like to thank the voters of Newcastle and will be getting ready to carry out my campaign themes.”

Bisset previously served a four-year term on the council from 2002-2005 and has lived in the Hazelwood neighborhood of the city for 41 years.

Irigon has lived in the Rainer Crest neighborhood of Newcastle for 25 years. This is the first time he has run for the position.

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Get ready for start of campaign season

May 6, 2011

If you’ve been thinking about taking on a bigger leadership role in Newcastle, it’s time to take the next step. Filing for candidates is June 6-10.

Newcastle City Council, school districts and the Coal Creek Utility District will hold elections this fall.

Many candidates are already filling out the needed paperwork with the state. Others have announced their intentions.

City Council incumbents Lisa Jensen, Carol Simpson and Steve Buri will seek re-election. Sonny Putter will opt out after serving 17 years; Parks Commission Chair Andrew Shelton has said he will seek Putter’s seat.

Council candidates must be registered voters at the time of filing and have one year of Newcastle residency. Those qualifications are the law, but candidates should also bring the willingness to devote hours every week to numerous meetings and study of the issues. An elected official’s most important attribute is the ability to listen and communicate.

The issues sure to be hot topics in City Council races this year include future city budgets, future development in the city limits and mitigation of seasonal flooding on Lake Boren. Park development and funding is sure to come up, and the relocation of City Hall will likely get rehashed.

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