Hazen, Liberty high school graduations / June 2013

July 10, 2013

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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Issaquah School District voters approve $219 million bond

May 3, 2012

Issaquah School District voters overwhelmingly approved a $219 million bond to fund construction and renovation projects on campuses across the district.

In the April 17 special election, 70 percent of voters — encompassing more than 15,000 yes votes of out more than 22,000 ballots cast — approved the measure. (The measure needed to receive a 60 percent yes vote from a minimum turnout of 12,229 voters.)

Despite the passage of the bond, local homeowners will pay less in property taxes to the schools than they do now because a previous bond issue is set to expire this year.

The retirement of the earlier bond will drop the local tax rate from $4.85 per $1,000 of assessed property value to $4.05. Passage of the new bond puts the rate at $4.42.

Compared to present rates, a homeowner with a home valued at $500,000, property taxes will drop by $215 annually, said Jake Kuper, district chief of finance and operations.

King County Elections is scheduled to certify the election results April 27.

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Controversial bond deserves a yes vote

April 5, 2012

We wish the Issaquah School District had been more conservative in its request to fund the long list of items on the April 17 construction bond, but we get why it was not.

With another school bond ending its 20 years of tax collections, this is a good time to get a lot of catch-up work done on our school facilities, while still giving taxpayers a couple hundred dollars’ reduction in property taxes next year (an estimated $215 drop on a $500,000 assessed valuation home.)

Volunteers for Issaquah Schools, the group pushing a yes vote, say this is the biggest campaign it has ever mounted. It’s no wonder. With so many questions and a $219 million price tag, the proposed bond has raised a lot of eyebrows.

There are a lot of questions voters are asking, as we did. Do the middle schools really need artificial-turf fields? Does it really make sense to tear down Clark Elementary School? Does Tiger Mountain Community High School, population 80, really need to be relocated at a cost of $4 million? Isn’t $75,000 for clocks at Beaver Lake Middle School rather excessive? And so on.

First, recognize that the extensive repairs, remodels, permanent classroom additions for 500 students, rebuilds of the five oldest schools, stadium upgrades, safety and energy-saving additions is so extensive that it will take eight years to get it all done — although taxpayers will pay for the next 20 years.

Equality in school facilities will come closer to reality if these projects are completed. Consider that the slower economy makes it a great time to get the best construction bids.

For many voters, this bond request is a stretch. But just like the committee of volunteers who studied the issues and drafted the bond plan, we believe the facilities bond keeps Issaquah schools in tip-top shape and designed for changing educational needs.

Vote yes.

$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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Issaquah School District considers $228 million bond

June 3, 2011

Though far from complete, the 2012 Issaquah School District bond has something for all of the district’s 24 schools, making the work-in-process price $228.6 million.

The bond — which has yet to come before the superintendent and the Issaquah School Board — calls for $44.6 million in improvements and expansions to Liberty High School, $3.8 million in improvements to Maywood Middle School and $17,000 in improvements to Newcastle Elementary School.

At Liberty, the bond calls for a new auxiliary gym, a modernized locker room, a new café in the commons and an acoustic improvement to the main hall.

The bond would also call for Liberty to receive a new video and TV studio, roofing fixes, modernized classrooms, a new ticket booth at the entrance to the school’s fields and new bleachers on the home side of the football field.

For Maywood, the bond would call for improvements to roofing, windows, flooring, carpeting, plumbing, and the heating and ventilation system. The school’s grass field would also be converted to artificial turf, as rainy winters make the grass field muddy and temporarily unusable.

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Issaquah School District puts laid off teachers on recall list

June 3, 2011

With the approval of the state biennial budget, the Renton and Issaquah school districts are in a budget crunch.

Class sizes will not increase in the Issaquah district next year, and although the Renton district has not yet determined whether it will need to increase class sizes, officials said they hope not to.

Laying off teachers is also an option, but Renton district spokesman Randy Matheson said it is one district officials hope to avoid.

“Our intent is not to do either of those things,” Matheson said.

He said district officials will need to discuss the situation with its unionized employees. Alternatives to cutting pay could include reducing the money the district stows away in its emergency savings or leaving open positions unfilled.

“We’ve got some things to come to the table with, but we’ve got to have those discussions,” Matheson said.

The state Legislature approved the budget May 24.

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Newcastle Elementary, Maywood Middle schools seek members for site councils

May 10, 2011

NEW — 3:15 p.m. May 10, 2011

Newcastle Elementary School and Maywood Middle School are seeking members for their respective site councils for the 2011-2012 school year.

Site councils — which consist of parents, staff members and occasionally students —advise school principals on how to advance student learning. The councils focus on using “strong shared planning, communications and problem-solving,” according to the Issaquah School District’s website.

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Issaquah changes class requirements to recommendations

May 6, 2011

In the past, high school students have needed to fulfill specific class requirements before taking higher-level courses.

Starting this fall, Issaquah School District administrators are changing those prerequisites to learning recommendations.

“We’re trying to increase access for students,” Executive Director of Secondary Education Patrick Murphy said. “We used to say, ‘You must have at least a B-minus to take this class.’ But what if I have a C-plus?”

Changing the prerequisites to learning recommendations has been a year and a half in the making. Throughout the year, Murphy meets with the principals from Liberty, Issaquah, Tiger Mountain Community and Skyline high schools. The group brainstorms ways it can increase access for students.

The access talks serve as an umbrella for several subjects, including how the district could increase student access to quality teachers, better activities and challenging courses.

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Issaquah Rotary Club honors Liberty students

May 6, 2011

The Rotary Club of Issaquah recently honored the following seniors as its students of the month for March.


Forrest Hurley

  • School: Liberty High School
  • Category of recognition: physical education
  • Parent: Jennene Hurley
  • Sponsoring teacher: Emily Corley
  • Achievements: lacrosse team captain (two years); varsity athletic letters (track, football)
  • Activities: FCA president, Link Crew, Associated Student Body Spirit director
  • Interests: history, aviation
  • Hobbies: lacrosse, pole vault, snowboarding, football
  • Future goals: undecided about educational goals; become a pilot


Jessica Warren

  • School: Liberty High School
  • Category of recognition: pre-vocational
  • Parents: Phyllis and Robert Warren
  • Sponsoring teachers: Nancy Montgomery, Pamela Juretic, Debbie Sutton and Andy Fickert
  • Achievements: 3.714 grade point average; first place Pro Start Restaurant Management Competition
  • Activities: three years of culinary arts; Culinary Arts Management Team (2009); volunteer for catering events
  • Hobbies: reading, movies, collecting records
  • Outside school affiliations: Wilton’s cake classes
  • Future goals: Renton Tech for baking/candy making; professional baker

Newcastle students named to UW dean’s list

These students from the Newcastle area have been named to the dean’s list at the University of Washington for the winter quarter:

Dylan Bussone, Lauren Colyer, Bernard Ellouk, Jaroslava Gurthova, Diana Hu, Victoria Hupf, Dylane Jacobs, Rebecca Lau, Mary Lebeau, Kendrick Lentini, Jessica Li, Jiaqi Liang, Meng-Ching Liang, Paul Nichols, Brandon Nudelman, Laura Pattison, Jeremy Powers, Anisha Prasad, Rebecca Queitzsch, Joshua Smithrud, Alyssa Spencer, Teodora Stoica, Emily Strom, Dennis Tat, Nathan Tat, Diem To, Sam Trautman, Nichole Tyler, Solomon Waldbaum and James Wang.

To qualify, students must have completed at least 12 graded credits and have a grade point average of at least 3.5.


Rotary Club of Renton honors Hazen student

Michelle Wnek, a senior at Hazen High School, was recently honored as the Rotary Club of Renton’s student of the month.

While maintaining a 3.6 grade point average, Wnek has been involved in National Honor Society, Key Club (vice president), orchestra, drama, Hazen Happenings (public relations office) and Ignite.

Wnek also participates in cross country and basketball and is the captain of the track and field team. She has received varsity letters, a sportsmanship award and Top Newcomer Award for basketball, and a scholar athlete award.

In addition, she received first place in the school’s science fair.

Wnek works part time at Osh Kosh B’gosh and volunteers with Newcastle Weed Warriors, Cross Country Running Club and Saint Matthews Community Program.

Wnet plans to attend the University of Washington to study politics and international studies. She is interested in becoming an ambassador or diplomat.

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