PTA Reflections Contest contest deadline approaches

October 2, 2012

The annual PTA Reflections Contest is around the corner and this year’s theme is “The magic of a moment.”

Each year, the national and state PTA welcome students in preschool through 12th grade to take part in the cultural arts competition by creating art that supports a specific theme.

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Welcome back from Issaquah PTSA Council

August 21, 2012

Providing leadership, keeping  community informed

The Issaquah PTSA Council is gearing up to begin another successful school year in the district. Following last year, when we helped pass a bond at 70 percent to support our students in our district, I feel confident that we will have another fantastic year for all students in all Issaquah schools.

This year, the council board will meet for a retreat in August, when we will spend time getting to know one another and planning our goals for the year. The purpose of the council is leadership at the district level, but also to offer guidance and support to the PTSAs in each of our local schools. We are excited to support our local PTSAs in all of their endeavors as they continue to go beyond expectations from good to great. We want all of our units to be fun, productive and successful.

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Issaquah School District administrators tackle homework, grading practices

July 17, 2012

School may be out, but homework is on a lot of people’s minds.

Superintendent Steve Rasmussen announced his plans, at the Issaquah School Board meeting June 20 to make homework and grading practices a hot topic of conversation during the 2012-13 school year.

“This is a topic that has piqued the interest of parents, and we agree,” he said. “I am confident that at the end of the year we will have a different appreciation for what homework is and how it connects to its purposes.”

Rasmussen laid out a plan for the homework conversation that is set to begin with the board’s retreat Aug. 21-22 and continue through next June. The first step in his plan is to review the district’s homework policy, look at Issaquah’s common homework practices, discuss the goal of homework and begin to make policy recommendations. Also on the list is gathering research on the topic and discussing the connection between homework and grading.

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Issaquah schools could lose $2.2 million under governor’s proposed budget plan

December 6, 2011

“We will be looking at a trimmed-down operation,” said Jake Kuper, the Issaquah School District’s chief of finance and operations.

He said district officials largely had managed to keep financial cuts from directly impacting classrooms. But Kuper also said he doesn’t know if that will be possible if Olympia slashes local funding even further.

Kuper was talking about how funding cuts proposed by Gov. Chris Gregoire might affect the Issaquah schools. In making the cuts, Gregoire said she needed to close a looming $2 billion budget shortfall. To mitigate any spending reductions, Gregoire already has asked legislators to place a three-year, half-cent sales tax increase before voters in March. State lawmakers are in the midst of a special session to deal with budget questions.

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Teachers eager to implement adopted science curriculum

November 1, 2011

Steve Rasmussen

The mad scientists have returned to their classrooms and some are completing observations of crickets, pill bugs and other creatures and plant life.

“Kids don’t just learn science, they do science,” said Joanne Griesemer, a curriculum specialist for the Issaquah School District.

Griesemer was referring to the district’s new science curriculum and said she has been happily busy over the past few months helping implement that curriculum.

During the past spring and summer, the Issaquah Schools Foundation, in partnership with the local PTSA, put on various fundraisers and took in roughly $438,000 toward replacing the district’s kindergarten through fifth-grade science materials. The fundraisers included having students dressed as mad scientists soliciting donations at various locations.

District officials pledged to match the foundation’s efforts with $700,000. The end result was the purchase of $1.1 million in new science materials. That includes everything from textbooks and workbooks to models, measuring instruments and so on. Every elementary school in the district has gotten at least some of those items.

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School district recalls teachers, sets course around pay cuts

July 5, 2011

Issaquah School District administrators have recalled 35 of the 36 teachers it laid off in May. The 36th teacher decided to move and declined the recall.

Superintendent Steve Rasmussen also announced that teachers could avoid the state Legislature’s cuts of 1.9 percent to their base salaries.

District teachers have the opportunity to earn back the 1.9 percent decrease in the state-salary schedule through an increase in their Professional Growth Incentive Fund and 10 available professional-development hours.

The measurement is the opposite of a furlough. Instead of working less for less pay, teachers will work more to keep their salaries stable.

The money paying for the salaries comes from a variety of sources, including voter-approved increased levy dollars, operational efficiencies, decreased nonclassroom service levels — such as streamlined bus routes — utilization of reserve funds, increased fees for families, reallocation of overload funding, and continued reliance on organizations such as the PTSA and Issaquah Schools Foundation to help fund critical district and school-level purchases.


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Supporters meet fundraising goal for science curriculum

June 21, 2011

After 47 days of fundraising at McDonald’s and Zeeks Pizza, and in various school parking lots, the Issaquah Schools Foundation and the Issaquah PTSA Council have raised enough money for a new elementary school science curriculum this fall.

The current elementary school science curriculum, last updated in 2003, does not meet state standards.

The fundraising campaign began April 29, the day after the foundation’s annual luncheon. There, foundation community representative Leigh Stokes explained that the district had initially set money aside for the curriculum update, but after the Legislature cut $1.45 million from the district’s budget midyear, the district could no longer afford the curriculum update on its own.

The district committed $700,000 to the elementary school science update, and the foundation and PTSAs partnered to raise the remaining $500,000.

Recently, district administrators negotiated with the curricula vendors and bargained for a better price. Originally, the update was supposed to cost $1.2 million, but after the negotiation, the price tag dropped to $1.1 million. The district is also saving money by developing a specific curriculum of its own, which has a price tag of $50,000.

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Order slices for science at Issaquah pizzeria

June 6, 2011

NEW — 4 p.m. June 6, 2011

Issaquah’s Zeeks Pizza invites the community to order a pizza and simultaneously donate to elementary school science materials.

Customers can contribute to the cause from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday at the Issaquah Highlands pizzeria, 2525 N.E. Park Drive. Issaquah councilman and restaurant franchise owner Mark Mullet will donate 20 percent of sales, including dine-in, delivery and pick-up, to the Issaquah Elementary Science Initiative.

The initiative, a partnership between the Issaquah Schools Foundation, the Issaquah PTSA Council and the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce, has raised $318,000 of the $500,000 needed for the Issaquah School District to purchase an updated elementary science curriculum. The current curriculum is 10 years old and does not meet state standards.

After school hours, Grand Ridge Elementary School teachers will help serve orders at Zeeks.

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Issaquah puts laid-off teachers on recall list

May 31, 2011

District could get $4.3 million less next year

Parents in the Issaquah School District can breathe a collective sigh of relief. Class sizes in the district will not increase next year.

The news stems from the proposed state biennial budget the state Legislature approved May 24.

After reviewing the budget for the past four months, the state House of Representatives and Senate approved a compromise budget that would lower the salaries of teachers and administrators, but would save the jobs of many district teachers.

Gov. Chris Gregoire has yet to sign the bill.

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Elementary science curriculum plan moves forward

May 31, 2011

The public is invited to review the newly recommended elementary science curriculum, material approved by the Issaquah School District’s Instructional Materials Committee.

The current elementary science curriculum, last updated in 2003, does not meet state standards.

The recommended materials are available for public review during regular business hours through June 8 in the lobby of the district administration building, 565 N.W. Holly St.

Public comment forms are available. The Issaquah School Board will review any comments before voting on whether or not it will approve the curriculum.

District administrators are still searching for money to purchase the recommended curriculum. Administrators had planned to purchase the material with money from the district’s reserves, but they abandoned that idea after the state unexpectedly cut the district’s budget by $1.45 million this year.

The Issaquah Schools Foundation, the Issaquah PTSA Council and the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce have joined forces to raise money for the Elementary Science Initiative. The initiative has already raised $298,000 of the $500,000 needed to buy the curriculum. Donate at

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