September 25, 2012
No need here for charter schools
Once again, Washington voters are being asked whether charter schools should be allowed here, as they are in 41 other states.
From some perspectives, a charter school run by a nonprofit organization with a goal of better education might make sense. But from the Issaquah perspective, charter schools are not needed. Test scores are among the highest in the state and 21 Issaquah School District students were recently named National Merit Scholarship semifinalists.
Supporters see charter schools as an alternative to a system seen as failing. The Issaquah district already strives to offer innovative curriculum for those students who need and desire more challenging classes. Witness the International Baccalaureate program at Skyline High School, the science-technology program for third graders, the Night Academy for students needing to make up failed high school classes and the Humanities Plus program for highly capable middle school students.
August 21, 2012
Children will have the opportunity to sink their teeth into about 600 new books per Issaquah School District elementary school in the coming school year as district officials set their sights on rolling out a new reading curriculum for students in kindergarten through fifth grade.
The new curriculum is made up of three integral parts: a new book room for each school, a new phonics program and a new reading comprehension component to the program.
“We have a number of goals with this, including increasing reading achievement,” said Emilie Hard, executive director of teaching and learning services for the district. “Our scores are very good in Issaquah, but we know we can be even better. We’re lifelong learners … we want to keep moving forward every year.”
August 21, 2012
Children win when community unites
The club challenge was just a small part of a wonderful outpouring of support to fill 1,000 backpacks for kids registered with the Issaquah Food & Clothing Bank.
Numerous groups got together to coordinate the drive. The PTSA Council and Issaquah Education Association kicked things off by gathering donations of gift cards that could be used to purchase school supplies.
August 21, 2012
Filling in the gaps where state funding ends
So many things are right about Issaquah schools: bright kids, supportive families, inspiring teachers and strong administrators. While Issaquah schools deliver quality education, deficient state funding limits educational opportunities for our students.
We are all familiar with the school funding figures. Issaquah is 277th out of 295 school districts in per-pupil funding in a state that falls 44th in education support. We must ask ourselves, “How can we secure the resources to ensure all students have the tools they need to be successful in school, college and career?” There are two answers. Wait for a legislative fix or empower ourselves to make a change.
The Issaquah Schools Foundation is dedicated to the latter. Our mission is to raise funds to help all students achieve the promise of their academic potential. Each year, we work in partnership with the Issaquah School District to assess our students’ greatest needs. We then collaborate with the community to generate resources to fund strategic programs and initiatives that will advance academic achievement, support struggling students, promote professional development and connect students to their futures.
July 24, 2012
Several miniature hands shot up into the air as Allison Rupert read aloud, “On the first day of school I wondered, ‘What will I do today?’”
While most of the classrooms at Issaquah Valley Elementary School are quiet, Rupert and fellow teacher Jane Brammer are instructing a four-week pilot kindergarten readiness program through Aug. 3.
“A lot of them have never been to school. But the first day they were on board,” Rupert said. “Seeing the progress in just two weeks, they are going to be so ready in September. They will have confidence and it won’t be a scary place.”
Paid for by an $18,000 Academic Enrichment Grant from the Issaquah Schools Foundation, the Pre-K Summer School is a free program for children entering kindergarten who have not been to preschool, have English as a second language or have attended preschool but need extra attention.
July 24, 2012
After-school homework programs got a big boost July 11 when the Issaquah School Board approved a $42,500 gift from the Issaquah Schools Foundation.
The money has been earmarked to support three programs, including $7,500 for Middle School After School Homework; $12,500 for High School After School Homework; and $22,500 for the mentor program Volunteers of Issaquah Changing Education, more commonly known as VOICE.
On the middle school level, the after school program allows for school libraries to stay open in the afternoon so students can access computers, the Internet and get help with homework. On the high school level, different days of the weeks are reserved for extra help for different subjects like math and foreign languages. The mentor program serves about 300 students from across the district who could use one-on-one assistance.
“It’s an extraordinary program,” foundation Executive Director Robin Callahan said. “I know that the district has really come to rely on the VOICE mentor program as one of their strategies.”
The mentors are all volunteers while the district and the schools foundation partner together to pay for program directors and school coordinators. The latest injection of $22,500 covers about half of the total cost of the program.
“There is nothing that the foundation does alone,” Callahan said. “It involves collaboration with the district, collaboration with volunteers and collaboration with donors. We are a conduit by which members of the community can donate resources and time to have an extraordinary effect on student learning and students’ ability to achieve their full potential.”
July 17, 2012
The Issaquah Food & Clothing Bank is prepared to meet the school supply needs of up to 1,000 returning students this fall, about twice as many as last year.
Low-income families in need of backpacks and school supplies should sign up at the food bank, 179 First Ave. S.E. Students must be attending school in the Issaquah School District.
Refer families in need of backpacks to the food bank.
The backpacks and supplies are being donated by numerous individuals and businesses in the community, including Kiwanis Club of Issaquah, Issaquah Schools Foundation, SanMar, Issaquah Rotary Club, Office Depot, Issaquah Education Association and others.
Local PTAs collected $500 in gift card donations in June to support the bulk purchase of supplies.
Donations can be sent or dropped off at the food bank. Call 391-4123 for more information.
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.
July 3, 2012
Rotary International District 5030 — which runs from Mill Creek to Enumclaw — has recently found itself in distinguished company.
The district, which includes the Rotary Club of Issaquah, joins the Gates family, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and former Seattle Mariner Jamie Moyer as recipients of the Seattle-King County First Citizen Award for their commitment to community and public service.
Don Oellrich, president of the Rotary Club of Issaquah, said being part of the district that received the award is an honor.
June 19, 2012
It’s the end of the school year but that doesn’t mean that donations to local schools have to end.
At the June 13 Issaquah School Board meeting, five donations of more than $2,500 each were approved by the board.
Among those was a $12,850 gift to Issaquah High School from its PTA. The funds will be used to purchase technology hardware and supplies for a mobile technology learning unit. The Grand Ridge PTA gave $8,655 to Grand Ridge Elementary School to purchase National Geographic subscriptions, music instruments, ebooks and gym class equipment.
The Career and Technical Education program and the Technology Education and Literacy in Schools program got a boost from the Issaquah Schools Foundation in the form of an $11,800 grant.
Math students at Cougar Ridge Elementary School will get new Excel math worksheets thanks to a $3,583 donation from the school’s PTA. Cougar Ridge’s PTA also donated $2,598 to help pay for half-day substitutes so teachers can be released for team science planning.