Issaquah School District superintendent passes evaluation; contract is extended

June 26, 2012

Superintendent Steve Rasmussen’s contract has been extended for one year to June 30, 2015.

The Issaquah School Board met in a two-hour executive session June 19 to discuss Rasmussen and voted to extend his contract June 20 at its regular board meeting. State law requires the board to evaluate and take action on the superintendent’s contract every year before July 1.

There were no major changes to Rasmussen’s contract. That includes no changes to his $212,100 salary. However, one adjustment was made to allow him to cash in his 10 days of accrued vacation.

“At this point he is not taking too many vacations and we didn’t want to penalize him for being at work,” school board President Chad Magendanz said.

Board members also used the occasion to thank Rasmussen for his work on various issue like literacy and his help in getting the recent $219 million bond passed.

“I don’t think anyone could have anticipated over a 70 percent approval,” Magendanz said. “So, I really need to give the superintendent and the staff kudos.”

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Beaver Lake Middle School principal takes helm at Liberty High School

June 5, 2012

Josh Almy doesn’t have to go far to find the inspiration of leadership in the classroom.

Josh Almy

With his wife, sister and mother all serving as teachers during their lifetimes, the newly appointed principal of Liberty High School said education is all around him.

The 39-year-old father of three said he’s looking forward to hitting the ground running, with plans to meet and learn from Liberty parents, students, teachers and staff members in the coming weeks.

“I’m ready to jump in with two feet and get to know people and figure out how I can support people,” he said. “A principal needs to be focused on staff, learn how to be supporting kids and be a good listener.”

Almy is no stranger to the Issaquah School District, having served as the principal at Beaver Lake Middle School for the past eight years.

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Pine Lake Middle School welcomes new principal

May 29, 2012

Pine Lake Middle School will soon welcome a new principal. Beginning July 1, Michelle Caponigro will take over for retiring Principal Roy Adler. Caponigro has served as the school’s assistant principal for the past seven years.

“Parents and staff want a principal leader who is compassionate and personable and able to seamlessly continue the culture of excellent student achievement, collaboration, professional development and instructional leadership that has always been a hallmark of Pine Lake Middle School,” Superintendent Steve Rasmussen wrote in an announcement to the community May 22. “We have found that leader in Michelle Caponigro.”

Adler, who is on medical leave, announced his plans to retire earlier this month. Since then, he has continued working with staff and Caponigro by phone. In a letter to families, Adler said his retirement will allow him to focus on his family and recovery. This year marks Adler’s 41st year in public education; 11 of those years have been at Pine Lake.

“Pine Lake is a school I couldn’t just walk away from. Something life changing had to happen to facilitate that,” he wrote. “No educator could ask for more than to serve this community. It has been a privilege, not a job.”

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Substitute bus driver, a former teacher, arrested for child porn

May 15, 2012

Andrew Rekdahl

Issaquah School District and Eastside Catholic High School officials sought to reassure parents and students May 11 after federal agents arrested a substitute bus driver for the Issaquah district and former Eastside Catholic teacher for possession of child pornography.

Andrew Bernard Rekdahl, 29, faces child pornography charges after federal prosecutors said the Carnation resident shared explicit images and videos of boys online from his home computer.

Department of Homeland Security agents arrested Rekdahl at a school district facility May 10 after a monthslong sting operation.

Federal prosecutors charged him with one count each of possession and distribution of child pornography. If convicted, he faces up to 40 years in prison.

Rekdahl served as a substitute bus driver for more than a dozen routes throughout the school district between Nov. 14 and May 10 and as a science teacher at Eastside Catholic in Sammamish from 2005 to June 2010.

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Substitute bus driver arrested for child pornography

May 11, 2012

NEW — 12:45 p.m. May 11, 2012

Federal agents arrested a substitute bus driver for the Issaquah School District for child pornography possession Thursday.

In the course of the investigation, security officials told district officials no evidence exists to believe any inappropriate or illegal activities occurred as the driver — identified as Carnation resident Andrew Bernard Rekdahl in court documents — worked for the district.

Prosecutors charged charged Rekdahl with possession and distribution of child pornography.

“This is obviously a very serious charge, and our first priority is making sure that he acted as a professional at all times while driving for us,” Superintendent Steve Rasmussen said in a statement released early Friday afternoon.

Prosecutors said Rekdahl shared explicit images and videos of boys online.

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Parents, students encouraged to apply for high school schedule committee

May 10, 2012

NEW — 3:30 p.m. May 10, 2012

As the next major step to align each of the three high schools schedules in the Issaquah School District, administrators encourage parents and students to become involved with the Liberty High School Schedule Committee that will be formed this month.

The parent and student application and a timeline of the project are available online now.

Applications are due to Kathy Schroeder in Liberty’s main office by May 18, and parents of Maywood Middle School and Liberty students are especially encouraged to apply.

The school will continue with the same eight-period schedule for the 2012-13 school year. Issaquah and Skyline high schools have a six-period daily schedule in place, while Liberty has eight.

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Growth is focus as City Council, Issaquah School Board meet

May 1, 2012

City and Issaquah School District leaders pledged coordination and cooperation as the city outlines a bold plan to add thousands of residences in the decades ahead.

Chad Magendanz

Discussion about the Central Issaquah Plan — a proposal to transform more than 900 acres near Interstate 90 and state Route 900 — and possible changes to the school district, such as redrawing boundaries for schools to accommodate population shifts, dominated the annual joint meeting April 24.

City Council and Issaquah School Board members, plus Mayor Ava Frisinger and Superintendent Steve Rasmussen and other officials, gathered at Mandarin Garden a week after school district voters approved a $219 million bond to fuel a school construction boom. The planned projects include major changes for schools in downtown Issaquah.

The groups, seated beneath red lanterns and arranged around lazy Susans, sipped tea and nibbled on fried rice and roast pork as discussion unfolded about long-term development plans. (The city hosted the meal and spent $311.24 on food and beverages.)

“Both organizations have gone from fast-growing organizations to more stable, mature organizations with different sets of issues,” Council President Tola Marts said. “So, now the challenge is how do we manage the remaining growth that we have?”

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Liberty High School science teacher wins $10,000 prize

May 1, 2012

Celebrating are (from left) Alex Soldano, legislative aide to Rep. Marcie Maxwell; Liberty High School Principal Mike DeLetis; science teacher and winner of the Amgen award Mark Buchli; Carol Pawlak, of Amgen Corporate Communications and Philanthropy; Superintendent Steve Rasmussen; and Debbie Nye, district science specialist. By Jeffry Luke Photography

In a surprise presentation April 6, Mark Buchli, Liberty High School science teacher, was awarded the Amgen Award for Science Teaching Excellence and a $10,000 prize.

In front of a cheering all-school assembly, Carol Pawlak, of Amgen, announced Buchli as the winner and delivered a check for $10,000 to Buchli and the school.

Pawlak let students guess why she was there, giving clues about the winning teacher saying, “This teacher has been described as dynamic, innovated, gifted, inspiring – even cosmic. This teacher’s classroom is a space where learning is held in the highest regard.”

After the final clue explaining the teacher knows hands-on science and field trips are the fastest way to a student’s mind, especially field trips to an amusement park, the students shouted out Buchli’s name.

For 23 years, Buchli has been living his dream of teaching science including Advanced Placement biology, honors physics, general chemistry and general physics, and has been at Liberty High School since 2008.

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More than 15,000 voters supported Issaquah School District bond

May 1, 2012

On April 27, with a final count of 22,595 ballots cast for the Issaquah School District bond, King County Elections certified the April 17 special election.

“To say that we are pleased with the results of the bond election would be an understatement,” Issaquah School Board President Chad Magendanz said. “There’s something very magical happening at the Issaquah School District.”

A total of 15,809 votes were cast in favor of the district’s $219 million bond.

“It’s one of those things where we touched everybody, not just parents with children in school,” Superintendent Steve Rasmussen said. “It’s not the board, the administrative staff, the teaching staff — it’s the entire community that comes together.”

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Voters easily approve $219 million school bond

April 24, 2012

Issaquah School District voters overwhelmingly approved a $219 million bond to fund construction and renovation projects on campuses across the district.

In the April 17 special election, 70 percent of voters — encompassing more than 15,000 yes votes of out more than 22,000 ballots cast — approved the measure. (The measure needed to receive a 60 percent yes vote from a minimum turnout of 12,229 voters.)

Despite the passage of the bond, local homeowners will pay less in property taxes to the schools than they do now because a previous bond issue is set to expire this year.

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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