Past bond ushers in school renovation projects

August 23, 2011

In February 2006, Issaquah School District voters approved a $241.8 million bond issue to fund new construction and renovations around the district.

Maywood Middle School is being expanded and modernized. sky-pix aerial photography

The schools are following the plan laid out to voters with one exception, according to information on the district website.

In early 2007, the district acted to redirect construction dollars originally earmarked to fund construction of a new middle school, the district’s fifth. Because of changed enrollment and other factors, officials decided, rather than build a new school, they would convert the Pacific Cascade Freshman Campus into a full-blown middle school beginning in fall 2010. As a result, the Issaquah and Skyline high school campuses were revamped to include space for new freshmen.

Funded by that 2006 bond issue, here are some of the projects still under way in the district.

“The biggies are all down on the south end this year,” said Sara Niegowski, district executive director of communications.

• Planners slated Maywood Middle School in Renton for a modernization and expansion project. According to the latest construction update from the district this month, Maywood’s old administration/commons area and counseling offices are gone, with construction of replacement facilities under way. Demolition of the parking lots and sidewalks are nearing completion with rebuilding scheduled to have already started. Grading of new parking areas has begun.

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Nordstrom social-media maven shares a passion for fashion

July 26, 2011

The palatial Nordstrom flagship store almost doubles as a closet for Sanda Belaire, a designer saleswoman at the downtown Seattle landmark.

Sanda Belaire

In a 21st-century spin on renowned Nordstrom customer service, Belaire uses Facebook, Twitter and other tools to invite others to explore the fashion fantasyland, exchange ideas about the latest looks and select items for customers. The longtime Issaquah-area resident seamlessly melds chic and geek as a designer saleswoman and social-media maven for the Elle-and-Vogue set.

“I’m a firm believer in keeping up with technology,” she said. “You have to keep up with the world or it leaves you behind.”

Belaire shares snippets — a fire-engine-red Gucci dress, a Dolce & Gabbana lace sheath, a Jason Wu coat trimmed in ostrich feathers and velvet Miu Miu pumps attached to oversized bows, not unlike gifts beneath a Christmas tree — in iPhone photos posted to Twitter and Tumblr, popular social media sites.

“Twitter is another door into the store,” she said.

In 2008, Belaire joined the microblogging site and, a year later, created a popular account dedicated solely to style. The smartphone snapshots and 140-character musings reach almost 3,000 followers nowadays.

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For Devin Bennett, the final piece of a family legacy

July 19, 2011

In the quiet farmland of Pasco, where the scorching summer sun routinely drives temperatures into the triple digits, Devin Bennett wakes up before 5 a.m. to get to work.

Devin Bennett, Liberty High School senior, jumps out at the start of the 400-meter race May 20 during the 3A Sea-King District Championships, qualifying for state with a time of 51.01 seconds. By Greg Farrar

From mid-June to mid-July, he spends between 10 and 12 hours per day on his family’s cherry orchard, loading bins of fruit onto a tractor.

Although Bennett — a 2011 Liberty High School graduate — has come to the farm each summer for the past six years, this is the first year he has taken to grueling manual labor.

The hard work fits perfectly in line with his tremendous work ethic.

It’s a work ethic that led him to success as an athlete. It’s a work ethic that led him to success as a student. And it’s a work ethic he will build upon when he joins the track-and-field team at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, Calif., as a walk-on next year.

Driven by his will to put in the effort, Bennett hopes to become a college decathlete, competing in 10 different events.

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Issaquah School District to request bond in February

June 28, 2011

The Issaquah School Board has agreed to put a bond before voters Feb. 14.

Board members are still reviewing the contents and cost of the bond, but agreed to decide on both by late September, giving community supporters four months to campaign.

A bond is a property tax that pays for school construction and repairs. Money from bonds cannot be used for teacher salaries or for classroom supplies.

The last bond put before voters — a $241.87 million bond in February 2006 — passed with about 68 percent of the vote. All bonds need at least 60 percent approval to pass.

Some of the larger projects on the 2006 bond included the rebuilding of Issaquah High and Briarwood Elementary schools; the expansion of Skyline High School; the addition of Creekside Elementary School; and remodels at Maywood Middle and Liberty High schools.

District administrators had originally planned to ask voters for a bond in 2010, but decided to wait until 2012 because of the recession.

The proposed 2012 bond has projects for all of the district’s 24 schools, but the list has yet to be finalized.

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King County, YWCA to hold meeting about Passage Point

June 21, 2011

Safety is on the minds of community members neighboring the future Passage Point facility.

The YWCA will provide housing at Passage Point for men and women recently released from incarceration who wish to reunite with their children. The residents of Passage Point, who would otherwise be homeless, will have access to housing, employment and counseling services. It’s slated to open its doors next month.

A half-dozen community leaders met with representatives from King County and the YWCA, as well as King County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Andrea Alexander at Evergreen Community Church during a May 24 meeting about safety procedures.

Passage Point, in the southern part of the Issaquah School District, has long been a hot topic for the area. Students living at Passage Point will attend Maple Hills Elementary School, Maywood Middle School or Liberty High School.

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Robots stop swimming pool’s pretend oil spill

May 31, 2011

Maywood Middle School’s team (from left) members Hannah Matson, Matthieu Blanchet, Jason Jarman and Sydney Hartford, check the buoyancy and maneuverability of Vortex, the name of their remote operated vehicle. By Marla Crouch

Time was of the essence as students navigated their handmade robots underwater, doing their best to stop the oil spill and save the sea life from impending disaster.

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Issaquah School District considers $228 million bond

May 24, 2011

Though far from complete, the 2012 Issaquah School District bond has something for all of the district’s 24 schools, making the work-in-process price $228.6 million.

The proposal also includes remodeled or expanded schools for Apollo, Clark, Issaquah Valley and Sunny Hills elementary schools, Issaquah Middle School, and Liberty and Tiger Mountain Community high schools.

The bond proposal suggests the district tear down Tiger Mountain and Clark, and move the students to a remodeled building where Issaquah Middle School is now. The two schools would be close, but not connected, Associate Superintendent Ron Thiele said, with the Tiger move costing about $3.9 million and the Clark move costing about $19.5 million.

In the meantime, the district would build a new, two-story Issaquah Middle School where Clark and Tiger are now; that would cost about $62.5 million.

“This is the biggest project on the bond,” Thiele said.

The proposed bond also shows several trends — switches from carpet to rubber flooring, three new artificial-turf fields and two rain shields for outdoor play areas.

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School district awards Maywood contract

May 24, 2011

Six contractors submitted bids for the Maywood Middle School addition and modernization; M.J. Takisaki Inc. was awarded the project.

The Seattle company gave the lowest base bid at $11.8 million in a range of base bids that went as high as $13.2 million.

After accepting the base bid, district staff members agreed to several more construction projects at the school, including a new elevator and fire alarm system, as well as new partitions and music storage rooms, bringing the bid to about $12.2 million. Finally, the district agreed to a Washington state sales tax of about $1 million, bringing the final bid to $13.2 million.

The Issaquah School Board approved the bid at its April 28 meeting. Maywood’s modernization and expansion is slated for completion by August 2012.

Student expelled from Maywood Middle School for marijuana

May 13, 2011

NEW — 3 p.m. May 13, 2011

Police arrested a 14-year-old Maywood Middle School student May 6 for bringing marijuana to school. Administrators also expelled the student, according to a King County Sheriff’s Office report.

Maywood Principal Jason Morse reported the student had been on campus with a student from Tiger Mountain Community High School. When administrators confronted them, the high school student became loud.

Morse took the Maywood student to his office and asked to search his backpack, because the student had brought marijuana to school in the past, according to the report.

Police arrived and searched the backpack, finding a glass jar of marijuana and rolling paper.

Issaquah High School ROTC is on chopping block

May 10, 2011

The Navy Junior ROTC at Issaquah High School performs at a March school assembly. Unless the program raises its enrollment to more than 100 students, it could be canceled. By Don Borin/Stop Action Photography,

Low enrollment cited as reason for possible elimination

After 39 years of camaraderie, learning and accomplishment, the Issaquah High School Navy Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps is facing the chopping block.

Unless the program can bring enrollment up to 100 students by Oct. 1, the U.S. Navy has announced it will close the unit by fall 2012. This year, Issaquah High has 70 students enrolled in its Navy Junior ROTC.

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