School custodians seek mediation in contract dispute

September 19, 2008

Union representatives for the district’s custodial and grounds maintenance workers and district officials filed for mediation after being unable to come to a resolution on contract issues Sept. 9.

The district and the union have decided to pursue mediation because they are at an impasse on all major issues and therefore would like a third party to facilitate resolution, according to school district bargaining officials.

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Issaquah Salmon Days wins three Silver Pinnacle Awards

September 19, 2008

The 2007 Issaquah Salmon Days Festival — with the theme 007, Spawn, Just Spawn — received

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Spring challenging Anderson for state’s 5th District seat

September 19, 2008

Glenn Anderson Read more

Public opinion wanted about pool

September 19, 2008

As part of an ongoing feasibility study to determine what to do about the outmoded

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Beaver Lake’s Buddy is back in class

September 19, 2008

It took more than 150 parent signatures and a lot of effort, but Patrick Ford, an industrial science teacher at Beaver Lake Middle School, has his buddy back — and so do his students.

Buddy 2.0 made her first appearance at school Sept. 11.

“It went really smoothly,” said Josh Almy, the school’s principal. “When I walked into class yesterday, Thursday, the first day Patrick had gotten all the signatures, the kids were just so excited.”

Buddy was temporarily exiled from the school she spent 15 years in, due to a new no-animal policy, which was approved by Issaquah School District officials for the start of the school year.

The policy was adopted to protect each school’s educational environment and students with health allergies, different cultural views, fears of animals or other medical issues, according to district officials.

“It is just so nice, because we have to be one of the only schools that has a bulldog for its mascot and a real one wandering the halls,” said Caroline Brown, co-president of the PTSA for the school. “When you do a blanket ban like this, it is nice when you look at the exceptions.”

The change was quite unexpected for many students, staff and administrators when they returned to school from summer break, especially at Beaver Lake.

Buddy, the school’s mascot, has roamed the halls of the school since 1994, when it opened. The first Buddy reigned from 1994-2005, when he died. Buddy 2.0 picked up the duty in 2005.

The policy affects every district facility — 24 schools and five administrative facilities. It prohibits any animals from being on campus, not just dogs.

“I understand and support the district’s policy first and foremost,” Almy said. “The policy was written to keep kids safe, even though it does affect Beaver Lake and something that is near and dear to our hearts.”

The policy allows animals on campuses if:

  • They serve as an aid for an individual with special needs or accommodations.
  • They support classroom instruction for curriculum outlined by the district.
  • They support law enforcement or other emergency service activity.

Other exceptions can be made with clearance from district officials.

Pine Lake’s library would have been one of the school’s affected by the ban, but because Librarian Donna Bartholomew changed her policies regarding the two gerbils in the library, she was allowed to keep them.

“Our library is so student friendly, and one of the things that makes it so friendly is that it is high interest with those little guys running around in their cage,” Assistant Principal Michelle Caponigro said.

“It gets them into the library, which gets them to check out books and gets them reading,” she said, regarding students.

However, they are no longer able to handle, feed or clean the cage, she said.

To get Buddy 2.0 back, Ford had to send a permission slip to every parent in his class granting him permission to have her in his classroom. In asking, he had to identify Buddy 2.0’s usefulness to classroom curriculum and agree to accept any and all liability that stems from the dog being in class.

“There are policies in life that we have to follow and sometimes there is work to get it done, but it is definitely worth the work once it is done,” Almy said. “The neat part was to see how all the kids in his class really rallied around the cause for something that was really important to Patrick.”

To allow Buddy 2.0 to freely roam the school’s corridors again, the standard is even higher — getting every parent of every student in the school to sign a permission slip.

Ford and Buddy 2.0 were about 250 signatures short of that goal, according to district officials.

“I had to get 100 percent and I knew that I was never going to get that,” Ford said. “But I don’t think that 3 percent of the population should determine policy for 97 percent of the others.”

Reach Reporter Chantelle Lusebrink at 392-6434, ext. 241, or clusebrink@isspress.com.

Conversion of freshman campus will be in 2010

September 19, 2008

Pacific Cascade Freshman Campus will remain a freshman campus until fall 2010, leaving middle schools overcrowded one extra year. Once converted, PCFC will become a middle school.

Issaquah School District Superintendent Steve Rasmussen announced the delay Sept. 11 citing several factors including permit, construction and site delays.

Construction projects at Issaquah and Skyline high schools need large phases to be completed before the freshman class can be accommodated. Both are nearly seven weeks behind schedule after several summer delays.

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Community points out flaws in hatchery plans

September 19, 2008

A roomful of concerned community members left with more questions than answers Sept. 11 after representatives from the state Department of Fish and Wildlife tried to explain their plans for altering operations at the Tokul Creek Hatchery in Fall City.

In an effort to bolster the wild steelhead population in the Snoqualmie River, department officials want to essentially sequester the hatchery-raised steelhead away to the Skykomish River.

The crowd of more than 100 community members at the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery were nearly in total agreement this was a bad idea that has not been thoroughly thought out, even those who agreed the wild steelhead population did need to be replenished.

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Press Editorial

September 19, 2008

Best plan is for dual swimming pools Read more

To The Editor

September 19, 2008

Traffic

City needs to take steps to avoid a disaster at busy intersection

Traffic southbound on East Lake Sammamish Parkway at 56th Southeast is a disaster waiting to happen. With two lanes merging into one almost immediately, there are many confrontations.

The second lane should be made a right-turn only. This would allow the one lane to continue at the 40 mph limit instead of the 20 mph (or 0 mph when the left turn lane at Southeast 58th overflows).

A new 40 mph speed limit sign would also help, because most people are going only 35, if that (when there is little traffic).

Bob Johnson

Issaquah Read more

Reversing lunch, recess helps students learn better

September 19, 2008

Recess before lunch?

The concept certainly puzzled many students at Cascade Ridge Elementary School when they were released for recess before eating their lunch Sept. 3.

“It’s different,” said fourth-grader Cameron Tingy. “But we’ll get used to it.”

The program has been running smoothly, according to Principal Colleen Shields.

“So far, it has been really positive,” she said. “We know how important learning is and to learn well, you have to eat well. The kids come from the lunchroom with fresh minds and full stomachs, instead of having recess issues and low blood sugar, which drops 30 minutes into class because they scarfed down their lunch.”

But Shields said she doesn’t deserve all the credit.

“This really came and was driven by the entire staff,” she said.

The school’s staff instituted the program after studying new research from Montana State University, the Missoula City-County Health Department, the King County Board of Health and Action for Healthy Kids Washington, after staff member Demetra Trull put an article about the program in their school mailboxes.

The studies showed students eat more, waste less and show improved focus in the classroom by having recess before lunch.

Armed with new knowledge, Shields and her staff sat down to talk about the different benefits and concerns with the program. They mainly acknowledged the benefits the studies pointed to.

“When lunch is first, some of them eat lunch, but most of them zoom through it to get to recess as fast as possible,” said fourth-grade teacher Elaine Fritsch. “If I had a fourth-grader, I wouldn’t want them to be running around outside with a half-swallowed sandwich in their stomach. So, from a digestive standpoint, it is good.”

Cascade Ridge isn’t the only school in the district to have the program. Newcastle Elementary School has been doing the program since the school opened, about five years.

“We have maximized our learning time by having students eat after recess,” Christy Otley, Newcastle’s principal, wrote in an e-mail. “If there are any recess issues, the opportunity to have them resolved during lunch tends to happen, rather than recess issues slipping into the classroom.

“We have also noticed that students tend to eat better and slower, and along with that, the students tend to eat most of their lunch,” she added. The amount of wasted food has decreased.”

Briarwood Elementary School is also starting the program this year.

Two major concerns were how to avoid congestion and keep organization in the lunchroom, and make sure students could wash their hands before eating, Shields said.

In response, teachers and Shields developed a system for students to enter the cafeteria by grade level, and by those who were purchasing a school lunch and those who had brought their lunch.

They also solved their hand washing by placing large antibacterial dispensers at each of the entrances. Before they can grab their lunches, students have to use the hand sanitizer or wash their hands in the bathroom.

So far, the results are impressive.

“They used to come in and you spent a lot of time hearing about all the recess issues and tattling,” said first-grade teacher Cindi Pacecca.

“We haven’t heard a single recess issue since we started,” said her colleague Jenna Thoresen.

“I find that I’m now planning to do math right after lunch,” added fourth-grade teacher Kristin Page. “I used to plan silent or group reading to wind them down, but now they come in much more calm and I can jump into math.”

Reactions are mixed among the student body.

“I like it,” said fifth-grader Jake Cowan. “I’m much hungrier for lunch.”

“I’m the first one every day, because I’m so hungry,” said Jeremy Bradford.

“We used to be able to eat our lunch slower, because we could use some of our recess time,” said fourth-grader Emily Welch. “But now we have to rush through it.”

“It will take some getting used to,” fourth-grader Katie Mangold said.

Reach Reporter Chantelle Lusebrink at 392-6434, ext. 241, or clusebrink@isspress.com.

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