As school lets out for the summer, here's a look at some of the highlights of the past year in Eastside school districts, from closing budget...

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As school lets out for the summer, here’s a look at some of the highlights of the past year in Eastside school districts, from closing budget gaps to putting new graduation requirements in place.


• Hosted the first annual Latino Youth Leadership conference, which drew more than 160 students and families into workshops and discussions about college and beyond. The district also held meetings throughout the year, asking Latino parents what they needed to help their children achieve.

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• Participated in the Safe and Civil Initiative, a three-year project to create consistent behavior and discipline standards across the district.

• Started using a support program called AVID, which helps average students prepare for college success. The program is in place in five schools: Newport High, Sammamish High, International School, Tillicum Middle and Tyee Middle.

• Created a new writing course for seniors, with the help of professors from the University of Washington and Bellevue Community College. The course is designed to smooth the transition from high school to college.

• Began developing a student-support curriculum, so students can expect the same level of counseling and tutoring in every school in the district.

• Proposed a tougher set of graduation requirements, with an extra year of math and science. Currently students must take three years of math and two years of science. The School Board has not set a date for a public hearing on the matter.


• Proposed bond and levy measures for February 2006, including: a replacement for the maintenance and operations levy and the capital levy; a one-year school bus levy; and a bond measure that would build, remodel or upgrade schools. The School Board is asking for public input and will review the proposal at its meeting next Wednesday.

• The new Pacific Cascade Freshman Campus in Issaquah is near completion and scheduled to open in September. The principal will be Dana Bailey, the current assistant principal at Pine Lake Middle School in Sammamish. The mascot is the Lynx. The school will pull from Pine Lake, Beaver Lake and Issaquah Middle School.

• Concluded a Bell Times study after nearly two years of research. The Bell Times committee recommended later school start times, but Superintendent Janet Barry said the district could not afford it. The start times will remain mostly unchanged next year.

Lake Washington

• Put into effect a new set of graduation requirements, which included three essays and a months-long senior project. Only 12 seniors out of 1,776 in the district did not graduate because of the new requirements. They will have the chance to do so over the summer.

• Negotiated a three-year teacher contract that gave experienced teachers a raise of up to 7 percent. The contract also changed the district calendar to reduce interruptions in the school year.

• Raised the athletic-eligibility requirements at the high-school level. Students must now pass all classes and have a 2.0 grade-point average (GPA) in the previous semester to qualify to play. Previously, students had to pass only four of six classes and there was no GPA requirement. The new rule will get phased in slowly, starting with next year’s sophomore class.

• School Board members met with parents in each of the district’s four learning communities to talk about the future of the district. Each of the district’s learning communities is centered on one of the four main high schools.

• Introduced a new science curriculum in K-8 classrooms.

• Finished work on Juanita Elementary and continued construction on Franklin Elementary. Both will open in September.

Mercer Island

• Created a set of civility guidelines for various groups in the district, from parents to students, board members to administrators. Each group wrote its own guidelines, hoping to move the district forward after several years of instability and infighting.

• Appointed a new principal for the district’s only high school. John Harrison, the current principal of Reynolds Secondary School in Victoria, B.C., will become principal of Mercer Island High School. Michael Schiehser, a biology teacher and peer coach from Fullerton, Calif., will become associate principal.

• Completed the first year of an academically gifted program at West Mercer Elementary School. The program for third- and fourth-graders will expand next year to fifth grade.

• Finished the first year of a support program for students with developmental disabilities. The Autism Spectrum program at Lakeridge Elementary school worked with 15 students from across the district.


• Found a way to close the district’s $3.5 million budget gap next year without layoffs or program cuts, thanks to unexpected funding from state and federal government. The district also plans to shuffle some of its resources, increase fees in some areas and lose 16 staff positions through attrition.

• Increased the donor base of the Northshore Public Education Foundation by 400 percent. The nonprofit group helps fund various classroom initiatives.

• Piloted a new set of science materials at all grades, to be used next year.

• Finished the first year of the freshman project, a district graduation requirement that prepares ninth-graders for the months-long senior project, which becomes a statewide graduation requirement in 2008.


• Addressed a $1.37 million budget gap with the help of a budget advisory committee, made up of staff members, parents and community members. The committee recommended cuts across the board, from teaching positions to materials in the classroom. It also suggested strategies such as raising the price of school lunches and increasing activity fees at the secondary level. Superintendent Conrad Robertson will present his final budget proposal this summer.

• Changed the schedule at Cedarcrest High school from a four-period model to a modified six-period model. The district believes the six-period day will better prepare students for WASL testing in the springtime.

• Switched its athletic program into the Cascade League, which includes smaller districts such as Sultan, Granite Falls and Lakewood. Previously, the district was part of the KingCo league.

Snoqualmie Valley

• Appointed a new superintendent of schools, Joel Aune, the current superintendent of Colfax school district. He will replace longtime Superintendent Rich McCullough who is headed to Western Washington University in Bellingham to train school administrators.

• Appointed a new principal at the district’s only high school. Randy Taylor, former principal of Auburn High School, will become the new principal of Mount Si High School. He will replace longtime Principal Dave Humphrey, who is retiring.

Finishing work on Cascade View Elementary School in Snoqualmie, which is scheduled to open in September; on Mount Si High, which will have a new sports complex; and on a renovated gymnasium at Chief Kanim Middle School.

Cara Solomon: 206-464-2024 or