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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Months before election, school district bond campaign gears up

November 29, 2011

Voters will have until April 17 to decide the fate of a $219 million capital bond issue supporting the Issaquah School District.

Still, those running the bond campaign are starting to put the groundwork for it in place.

In the meantime, the Issaquah School Board approved the ballot language for the measure at its regular meeting Nov. 9.

The question asks voters to approve the sale of bonds to support various capital improvement projects in the district. The projects listed in the actual ballot include the rebuilding of Clark Elementary and Issaquah Middle schools. The language also addresses the relocation and expansion of Tiger Mountain Community High School.

Those projects are the largest, and possibly most controversial, included in the bond package. In the original bond program proposed by Superintendent Steve Rasmussen, the total cost of the interrelated projects was given as $86 million.

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Homecoming party bus incident leads to charges, suspensions

November 1, 2011

Teenagers drinking beer and liquor on a party bus headed for the Issaquah High School homecoming dance led to student suspensions and charges against the bus driver after the Oct. 22 event.

Issaquah High School administrators suspended nine students for alcohol infractions in connection to the party bus incident. Police and school administrators started investigating the incident after intoxicated students arrived at the homecoming dance.

The bus driver, a 49-year-old Auburn woman, faces charges in Issaquah Municipal Court for furnishing liquor to minors and reckless endangerment — both gross misdemeanors punishable by up to one year imprisonment and a fine of up to $5,000.

Police said students aboard the bus — rented from Seattle Party Bus, a bus and limousine service — convinced the driver to purchase alcohol for them and collected money for the purchases.

Investigators said the driver then headed to the state-run liquor store in Issaquah, along Northwest Gilman Boulevard, and purchased beer and liquor for the underage riders just before 6 p.m. Oct. 22.

Police said about 20 students rode the bus to homecoming at the school’s downtown Issaquah campus. The driver did not consume alcohol, Issaquah Police Patrol Cmdr. Scott Behrbaum said.

Later, at the dance, officers and school administrators encountered intoxicated students from the party bus.

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Police: Issaquah High School students convinced party bus driver to buy alcohol

October 27, 2011

UPDATED — 10:55 a.m. Oct. 27, 2011

The city prosecutor plans to charge the driver of a party bus headed to Issaquah High School’s homecoming dance for buying beer and liquor for teenagers aboard the bus.

The party bus driver, a 49-year-old Auburn woman, faces charges in Issaquah Municipal Court of furnishing liquor to minors and reckless endangerment — both gross misdemeanors punishable by up to one year imprisonment and a fine of up to $5,000.

Issaquah High School administrators suspended nine students for alcohol infractions in connection to the party bus incident. Police and school administrators started investigating the incident after intoxicated students arrived at the Oct. 22 homecoming dance.

Students aboard the bus — rented from a Seattle limousine service — convinced the driver to purchase alcohol for them and collected money for the purchases.

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Issaquah High School evacuated after student discovers ‘word of concern’

October 18, 2011

NEW — 4:05 p.m. Oct. 18, 2011

Issaquah school officials said Issaquah High School was temporarily evacuated and shut down mid-afternoon Tuesday after a student found what was described by Sara Niegowski, district executive director of communications, as a “word of concern” in a school restroom.

Niegowski said with an investigation still under way, the district would not be releasing any further information.

Issaquah police were called in to the school, but police officials did not immediately return a phone call asking for comment.

In an email addressed to the Issaquah High School community and released at about 3:15 p.m., Principal Paula Phelps said a student reported finding “writing on the wall of a bathroom that raised concern” at about the end of the school’s sixth period.

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Suzanne Weaver focuses on students as board member

October 11, 2011

During her four years on the job, Issaquah School Board member and Sammamish resident Suzanne Weaver said that the board has done a worthy job of keeping its focus on student achievement and success.

Suzanne Weaver

“It’s work that I enjoy and I want to continue doing it,” Weaver said of serving on the board.

Holding the District 5 seat, Weaver is being challenged in the November election by Issaquah resident Brian Neville.

District 5 includes the northwest corner of Issaquah around Lake Sammamish as well as parts of the city of Sammamish. Although board candidates run for a specific geographic seat, voters from across the district cast ballots for all Issaquah School Board members. Members are elected to four-year terms.

Board members may request pay of $50 per meeting, but the current board has chosen not to accept that money, according to Sara Niegowski, district executive director of communications.

Even as she praised the district for keeping students center stage in a time of massive financial distractions, Weaver said leaders need to deal with those financial hurdles.

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Accountant Brian Neville challenges incumbent for school board seat

October 11, 2011

An accountant by trade, Brian Neville grew up in Issaquah and earned his advanced degree at the University of Washington.

“I’m deeply connected to the community,” he said.

Brian Neville

Neville spent five years on the volunteer board of the Seattle-based nonprofit Community for Youth. The group’s aim is to help struggling or at-risk high school students. Neville said he hopes to continue his service to young people but wanted to find an opportunity on the Eastside. That was when he decided to try for the local school board.

“I want to just jump in and do something impactful,” Neville said, adding he has three priorities regarding Issaquah schools.

The capital improvement bond voters are being asked to approve in April makes the top of the list. The current board originally planned to run the bond issue in February, but the citizen committee promoting the bond asked for more time to convince voters.

Neville said he believes the board and other school officials need to do a good job of selling the need for the bond to the public. Neville noted a major school operating levy expires in two years and he said that fact needs more discussion than it has received. He said the district can’t afford to ask voters for too much.

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Skyline High School dances resume after student ‘problem solving’

September 27, 2011

In an email newsletter sent to the families of Skyline High School students, school officials said they had concerns about what they considered inappropriate behavior at school dances.

With that in mind, the letter also states school leaders had “put a hold on dances while the Associated Student Body and the student body did some problem solving.”

The school’s next dance would be the annual homecoming slated for Oct. 14. But the school newsletter claims that event was never definitively cancelled.

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District students score above state average on Washington math tests

September 27, 2011

As Issaquah School District students headed back to class Aug. 30, state education officials were releasing the first results of a newly required math test.

The state also put out final numbers on which schools were able, or not able, to meet annual improvement goals set out by the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

Last spring, Washington students in algebra and geometry classes took a state test immediately at the end of their course work. The system is known as “end of course,” or “EOC” testing. It replaced the standardized math test students formerly took near the end of the school year.

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Gunman dies in shootout near Issaquah High School

September 24, 2011

Guardian One, the King County Sheriff's Office helicopter, takes off from the Issaquah Community Center lawn during the search for a gunman. By Christina Lords

UPDATED — 8:45 a.m. Sept. 26, 2011

Issaquah police shot and killed a gunman Saturday after police said the man opened fire near downtown Issaquah schools as children and spectators gathered for sporting events.

The man parked a car on Front Street South at Newport Way Southwest and then headed on foot, carrying two rifles — including a bolt-action hunting rifle — to the area near Clark Elementary and Issaquah High schools at about 11:15 a.m. on a muggy fall day.

Police said the man menacingly pointed firearms at passers-by as he headed about a half-mile to Clark Elementary School.

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