Skyline High School to close Thursday over mass shooting threat

September 20, 2012

NEW — 12:45 a.m. Sept. 20, 2012

Students and parents were panicking late Wednesday and into the early morning hours of Thursday after someone posted on the Internet that Skyline High School would be targeted for a mass shooting.

After conferring with Sammamish Police, school officials decided to close the school.

“This is always one of the hardest situations to deal with. You take it as seriously as you possibly can but with social media, that kind of stuff is easy to put out there,” Issaquah School District spokeswoman Sara Niegowski said. “There is no way to say this is not credible, so the absolute safest thing to do is close the campus tomorrow and give police time to track down this individual and make sure that everyone is safe.”

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Issaquah High School marks formal opening with celebration

April 10, 2012

A crowd of students, alumni and local school officials gathered in the main lobby of Issaquah High School for remarks from Principal Paula Phelps and others. Though open to students since at least September, the district held a formal opening ceremony March 3 for the rebuilt high school. By Tom Corrigan

The building will have seen passage of its first full school year in just a few months.

Nevertheless, school district officials threw an official opening bash for the rebuilt Issaquah High School on April 3.

“As far as we’re concerned, tonight is just a party,” Principal Paula Phelps announced toward the beginning of her remarks to a crowd of 100 or so people gathered around a stage and podium set up in the school’s main lobby.

Despite a steady rain, every visitor had been greeted outside the school’s main doors by the IHS marching band and school cheerleaders.

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Bond package includes artificial turf for middle schools

March 27, 2012

There are a couple of themes that come up over and over as backers and school officials talk about the prospect of placing artificial turf on the fields of each of the five Issaquah School District middle schools.

The upcoming bond package also would provide the middle schools with rubberized outdoor running tracks if voters decide to approve the $219 million capital improvement plan.

District officials hope to install the turf and tracks at a cost of $1.5 million per school, not counting fields that could go in at a transplanted Issaquah Middle School.

The IMS fields would be added after the school is rebuilt; associated costs are not specifically spelled out in the district’s bond package.

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Officials to celebrate opening of rebuilt Issaquah High School

March 27, 2012

A celebration marking the opening of the rebuilt Issaquah High School was supposed to take place this past fall.

But school officials felt it important that the public celebration happen after completion of the new Performing Arts Center, after landscaping was finished and the final touches were put on the building. With that in mind, even though students are nearing the end of their first year in the new building, a public celebration of the opening of the school is slated for 6 p.m. April 3 at the school, 700 Second Ave. S.E.

“For more than a century, this school has been at the heart of Issaquah’s history and culture,” Sara Niegowski, Issaquah School District director of communications, said in a press release. “Thanks to the support of every resident through the 2006 bond, Issaquah High is ready to continue that strong tradition in a new, state-of-the-art building.”

Besides the Performing Arts Center, other highlights of the new school mentioned by Niegowski include cutting-edge science labs and modern classrooms complete with up-to-date technology.

The celebration will include a slideshow of the construction, tours of the building, and student music and art.

The evening is free and open to the public.

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Smaller maintenance projects form big part of school bond

March 20, 2012

As voters get closer to deciding whether to OK a $219 million bond issue to benefit the Issaquah School District, big projects such as the rebuilding of the so-called corridor schools are getting plenty of attention.

The corridor schools are Issaquah Middle, Clark Elementary and Tiger Mountain High schools, all which will end up largely rebuilt and in new locations if the bond sale is approved.

Still, a significant portion of the proceeds from the bond sale would go toward more seemingly mundane items, such as rebuilding playfields and replacing fire alarm panels. The proposed project list includes dozens of maintenance and upkeep items at schools around the district.

“We have an obligation to protect roughly $1.2 billion in assets,” Jake Kuper, district chief of finances and operations, said referring to the estimated value of the district’s 28 total buildings, including 24 schools.

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Issaquah School District property tax rates should fall

March 6, 2012

“How much will it raise taxes?”

That’s the first question that comes to mind when a money issue of any kind is put before voters. So, how will the $219 million bond package being floated by the Issaquah School District affect local property taxes?

Bond supporters are quick to point out that local property tax bills will fall even if the bond issue passes. That’s because a bond package voters approved in 2006 is about to be retired.

According to the district, the retirement of the earlier bond will drop the local tax rate from $4.85 per $1,000 of assessed property value to $4.05. Passage of the new bond would put the rate at $4.42.

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Schools eye teacher evaluation system as state model

February 28, 2012

Hoping to take the lead in implementing a coming change in state law, local school officials have settled on a teacher evaluation system that could end up being a model for all of Washington.

The Issaquah School District will now spend time ramping up to implementation of the new system, according to Associate Superintendent Ron Thiele, as well information released by the district.

The new teacher and principal evaluation system should be in place in time for the next school year.

In fall 2013, every Washington public school will be implementing a state-mandated system to evaluate the performance of teachers and principals.

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Norovirus is to blame for cheerleader illnesses

February 14, 2012

Tests done at the state Public Health Laboratories revealed norovirus caused hundreds of students to become ill during and after a Feb. 4 cheerleading competition held at Comcast Arena in Everett.

At least eight Skyline High School cheerleaders were among those sickened, according to Sara Niegowski, executive director of communications for the Issaquah School District. Skyline Principal Lisa Hechtman also became ill after attending the event, as did one assistant coach.

As of Feb. 10, the students and staff were all doing better, according to Niegowski, who said the Skyline squad was slated to take part in a follow-up competition the weekend of Feb. 11-12.

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Men may have attempted to lure student from Discovery Elementary School into truck

February 14, 2012

An incident of alleged child luring may or may not have been a false alarm, said Sgt. Cindi West, public information officer for the King County Sheriff’s Office.

Officials put out a warning just in case, West said Feb. 13.

Two men tried to lure a local fifth-grader into a truck at about 2:40 p.m. Feb. 8, Issaquah School District officials said.

The student was walking home from Discovery Elementary School when a truck approached him on Southeast 20th Street just west of 228th Avenue Southeast on the Sammamish Plateau, said Sara Niegowski, district executive director of communications.

Two men inside the truck reportedly waved to the student, pulled the vehicle over and then motioned for the student to come closer, Niegowski said in a press release.

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School leaders prepare for potential problems as food allergies rise

February 14, 2012

Students gather for lunch last week in the cafeteria of Issaquah Middle School. If a student has a food allergy, he or she can be put at an isolated table. By Tom Corrigan

There is absolutely no doubt that instances of food allergies have increased, said physician and allergist Marlene Peng, of Minor and James Medical in Seattle.

“No one knows quite why,” added Peng, though she did say there are several theories.

The issue of food allergies hit home in the Issaquah School District last month when an Issaquah High School student suffered what was described as a severe reaction to kiwi. From the school’s point of view, that specific issue is moot, as the student withdrew from local schools Jan. 26. Withdrawal forms do not require a reason for leaving the school and no reason was given in this instance, Sara Niegowski, district executive director of communications, said in response to a public records request.

In the past, officials have said the district had a personalized health plan in place to deal with the student’s allergy. Creation of a unique health plan is one of several standardized steps the district takes when notified of any student health issue, including allergies, said Jan Stromgren, a registered nurse serving Pine Lake Middle School, who is also the nursing team leader for the district.

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