January 15, 2013
Superintendent Steve Rasmussen intends to retire June 30 after leading the Issaquah School District for six years.
December 11, 2012
By the numbers
Data from the most recent year available, 2011, illustrates how Issaquah ranks against other King County cities in per capita funding for human services.
Source: City of Issaquah
Representatives from a spectrum of organizations — nonprofit human services groups offering affordable housing, safe havens for domestic violence victims, assistance to struggling students and more — successfully lobbied City Council members Dec. 3 to stave off a $48,750 drop in funding for such programs.
The council agreed to allocate $280,750 in the $42 million general fund budget for human services grants, but only after a council committee pushed to increase the amount and local nonprofit organizations pleaded for the council not to eliminate $48,750 in funding.
Grants go to organizations such as Eastside Baby Corner, Friends of Youth and the Issaquah Food & Clothing Bank to offer services to residents from Issaquah and the Issaquah School District.
In a 4-3 decision, council members agreed to increase the amount budgeted for human services by $48,750 from the $233,250 the council recommended in earlier budget deliberations. The additional dollars for human services grants comes from the municipal rainy day fund.
Councilwoman Eileen Barber initiated the process to restore the human services funding.
Then, before the split decision, representatives from local human services organizations — including Catholic Community Services, Issaquah Community Services and LifeWire — beseeched the council to restore funds for grants.
“At a time when I see the needs rising among our students, and I see the return on investment for cities in investing in students while they’re still in school, I think it’s a critical time for you to consider being able to support organizations, such as the schools foundation, in retaining our current funding,” Issaquah Schools Foundation Executive Director Robin Callahan said.
Several referenced the Great Recession and the fragile economy recovery in pleas to the council.
“I believe that our nonprofits are still recovering from the recession,” Issaquah Food & Clothing Bank Executive Director Cori Kauk said. “Many of our local nonprofits haven’t rebounded yet and they still need your support. Now is really not a good time for cuts.”
Council President Tola Marts said the city did not intend to undercut human services organizations through the budget reduction.
“In a time when the state and the county are reducing funds — and I realize that puts even more strain on local budgets — I think the intent of the council when we did the budget was that we thought that was a strong position to take,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that it’s been perceived as a Grinchian position.”
The council acts on recommendations from the municipal Human Services Commission. Overall, commissioners received 60 grant applications totaling $366,283 in requests for 2013.
Commission Chairwoman Maggie Baker, disappointed about the proposed reduction in funding, pored over data from the U.S. Census Bureau to better quantify the need in the community.
“I realized that with $47,000 less, we weren’t going to be able to do the right thing for our 1,365 Issaquah neighbors 65 and over who live with at least one disability that keeps them from completing an activity of daily living, such as eating, dressing or bathing,” she said.
December 11, 2012
The Issaquah School District approved more than 176,000 worth of donations during its Nov. 28 meeting.
The Issaquah Schools Foundation donated $88,597.55 to support various programs in the district.
From that, $12,500 is for the Middle School After School Homework program while another $7,500 is for similar high school programs. As well, $35,600 is for Science Tech; $25,000 goes to Humanities Plus; $3,500 is earmarked for Financial Literacy and Targeted Academic Interventions gets $3,797.55.
December 4, 2012
Monday through Thursday at about 4 p.m., long after class has let out, 10 yellow school buses chug along area roads, helping middle school students with extracurricular activities get home.
“This is a bad time of the day for parents to pick their kids up,” said Don Crook, who drives one of the two late buses at Pine Lake Middle School. “For all the kids that stay after, whether it’s for chess club or track … the activities buses provide them a means to get back to home or at least close to it.”
Extended Day Activity buses, which are better known unofficially as activity buses, operate at all five of the Issaquah School District’s middle schools.
Director of Transportation Jo Porter estimates that about 250 sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders ride the buses. They stay after school, she said, for sports, clubs or just extra study time in the library. And of course, as activities change with the seasons, so do ridership numbers.
November 13, 2012
Four years ago, most students at Tiger Mountain Community High School were not interested in picking up a book. Now, the school’s small library has trouble keeping students from exceeding their check-out limit.
November 13, 2012
Evergreen Ford plans to combine “American Idol” and automobiles to benefit the Issaquah Schools Foundation at a Nov. 15 fundraiser.
The local Ford dealership named the foundation as the beneficiary in the nationwide Go Further with Ford promotion. For each attendee 18 and older at the dealership showroom, Evergreen Ford plans to donate $20 to the foundation, up to a total of $1,000.
November 6, 2012
When the Skyline High School Orchestra started this year, it was short nine cellos. The arsenal for Issaquah Middle School band for years included a baritone saxophone from 1925. Instead of being in a museum, it was played until its metal decayed beyond repair.
“They’re all over the district, of course — instruments that have either been around a long time or have seen rough decades. It’s been an ongoing problem for a long time,” said Doug Longman who teaches orchestra at Skyline and Issaquah high schools. “We are not even providing all the instruments that kids are playing.”
Larger instruments — like cellos, tubas and bass clarinets — are hard for students to carry back and forth from home, where they practice, to school, where they take band or orchestra classes. They’re also expensive to rent, if they can be rented at all. To help students in their musical endeavor, the ideal solution is for those larger instruments to be provided in class. But that is easier said than done.
November 6, 2012
Go ‘All in for Kids’ to help students succeed
You have no doubt heard about the Issaquah Schools Foundation’s All in for Kids Annual Fund Campaign. Since August, we have reminded the community of our annual fundraiser via postcards, emails, letters, honk and waves, a billboard and even a Battle of the Fans promotion at the Issaquah vs. Skyline football game.
Why so much energy exerted to encourage the community to go “all in”? Because the revenue generated during the campaign is used to do amazing things for our students and schools. It can help transform struggling students into confident learners, equip teachers with skills to reach and engage students of all learning styles, create interest in critical STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects by connecting classroom learning to real life applications, and expand students capacity for innovation and creativity through support of music and arts programs.
October 30, 2012
Sightings of enthusiastic moms and children in bright red wigs means the Issaquah Schools Foundation’s All in for Kids Annual Fund Campaign is in full swing.
The campaign, which raises money to support ongoing foundation programs, began in August and will conclude next month with high school students calling district parents the nights of Nov. 13 and 15.
Among the programs supported by All in for Kids are after-school homework labs and open library programs at middle and high schools, special-needs and highly capable program grants, the Academic Enrichment Grant program for teachers, targeted academic intervention programs at all levels and the eighth-grade Financial Literacy Curriculum.
Learn more about the Issaquah Schools Foundation and donate at www.isfdn.org or by calling 391-8557.
October 16, 2012
Programs and classrooms in the Issaquah School District got a $150,000 boost last month in the form of donations.
The various gifts were approved by the school board during its regular meetings Sept. 12 and 26.
The first allotment, $90,750 was approved Sept. 12 and included a $56,250 check from the Issaquah Schools Foundation. The money is set to be divided among four district programs — $12,750 for financial literacy, $18,000 for high school robotics, $7,500 for middle school robotics and $18,000 for pre-K summer school.