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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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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Robots stop swimming pool’s pretend oil spill

June 3, 2011

By Marla Crouch Maywood Middle School’s team (from left) members Hannah Matson, Matthieu Blanchet, Jason Jarman and Sydney Hartford, check the buoyancy and maneuverability of Vortex, the name of their remote operated vehicle.

Maywood Middle School’s team (from left) members Hannah Matson, Matthieu Blanchet, Jason Jarman and Sydney Hartford, check the buoyancy and maneuverability of Vortex, the name of their remote operated vehicle. By Marla Crouch

Time was of the essence as students navigated their handmade robots underwater, doing their best to stop the oil spill and save the sea life from impending disaster.

Granted, there was no actual oil spewing into the swimming pool, but students from Maywood Middle School pretended there was as they sent their robots to save the day.

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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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Theater helps performer connect to audience, life

May 6, 2011

Budding actress Savannah Freese openly shares her experiences of living with Asperger’s syndrome and depression.

Like a star accepting an award, the 19-year-old is quick to thank her greatest supporters — her family and friends — and she pours accolades on Liberty High School’s drama program, the conduit of her success.

“I don’t know if I would have lived if it hadn’t been for drama,” Freese said.

Savannah Freese

As a child, she felt introverted and shy. Making friends was difficult, especially when her family moved from Buckley in rural King County to Texas and then to Issaquah as a young girl.

She felt disconnected at Maywood Middle School, and spent most of her time staring into space. Depressed, she visited the school counselor almost daily.

“It was helpful a little bit because I was able to get everything out,” Freese said.

In eighth grade, she received the Asperger’s diagnosis. Suddenly, her life made more sense.

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School district changes class requirements to recommendations

April 1, 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.

This is not the first time the district has changed prerequisites to learning recommendations. Middle school students traditionally had to take a sixth-grade math placement test. If students performed poorly on the placement test, or if they missed the mark by a few points, they would be placed in the regular class.

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School construction projects in full swing

April 1, 2011

The voter-approved $241.8 million construction bond from 2006 is in full swing, sending two-story buildings high into the sky and installing sewer systems deep into the ground.

Several schools across the Issaquah School District — including Liberty High School and Maywood Middle School — are receiving money for construction updates or remodels. Four projects are slated to begin construction June 20, after school gets out.

Liberty will undergo a partial modernization and expansion, with most areas complete by August 2012, and final completion by spring 2013. Maywood will be modernized and expanded with new classrooms and science labs with completion in August 2012.

Liberty and Maywood will get new sewer systems as well.

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Man tries to pick up three Maywood students

February 3, 2011

NEW — 5:50 p.m. Feb. 3, 2011

Three Maywood Middle School students reported that an unknown man offered them a ride home when they were walking back from school at about 2:30 p.m. Thursday.

None of the students knew the man, who was driving a turquoise Taurus along Southeast 144th Street in Renton.

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Police, parents search for missing Maywood student

October 26, 2010

NEW — 10:20 a.m. Oct. 26, 2010

The parents and friends of a missing Maywood Middle School student have asked community members to help bring her home.

Her parents believe Riley Bunch, 12, ran away from her Renton Highlands home Monday. In a postings on Facebook, the family said Riley did not get on her school bus or attend school. The school notified them Riley did not attend.

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