Issaquah School District’s bond deadline approaches

September 20, 2011

By Tom Corrigan

The Issaquah School Board is moving closer to placing a possible $227 million capital improvement bond issue on the ballot in February.

At a special session Sept. 13 and at their regular meeting Sept. 14, school board members spent several hours reviewing the district administration’s recommendations for the bond issue.

The line-by-line study led to discussions about everything from replacing carpeting to installation of aluminum window frames to new roofs.

The board has a Sept. 28 deadline to act on the bond recommendations presented by Superintendent Steve Rasmussen. As discussions moved forward, a proposal to install artificial turf at five schools continued to attract plenty of discussion.

Rasmussen’s plan has the district installing the new turf at a cost of about $1.3 million per school. Board President Jan Woldseth Colbrese said officials need to do a good job of explaining the reasoning behind the field improvements.

In the past, officials have talked about lower maintenance costs and increased use of fields by community groups. At the Sept. 14 meeting, board members noted improvements would extend beyond the athletic fields at the schools.

Primarily, new rubberized running tracks would replace the cinder tracks in place now. Several board members said the rubber tracks would represent a major improvement in terms of safety and other factors.

A plan for $6.4 million in improvements to the athletic field at Skyline High School again drew attention as well. Woldseth Colbrese said new stands at Skyline would encourage community and student involvement.

“For a lot of kids, it creates engagement they might not otherwise have,” board member Suzanne Weaver said.

She added she was not talking about athletes, but students who connect to the school community largely by supporting the school’s teams.

Weaver said the sports field improvements might well give some voters an excuse to reject any bond issue. But other officials argued that residents looking for reasons to vote against the bond were unlikely to support it under any circumstances.

One last issue that gained some attention was the proposal to rebuild Tiger Mountain Community High School for $3.9 million. Weaver and others said the existing school simply precludes certain activities and programs. For example, officials hope to reduce limitations on Tiger Mountain’s culinary arts classes.

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