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Board Recap: Nov. 10, 2022

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The Issaquah School Board held a regular meeting Thursday, Nov. 10, at the Issaquah School District Administration Building. The meeting was open to the public, broadcasted live on the ISD YouTube channel, and a recording of the meeting is available.      

Today we’re sharing a summary of a few of the topics the board and district staff discussed and action the board took at the meeting. It is not an official record or meeting minutes. To review official minutes from all board meetings, please visit our board meeting archive webpage.   

 

Report out on Work Study Session 

The Work Study was focused on planning for the 2023-2024 school year budget and was led by Chief of Finance and Operations Martin Turney and Executive Director of Finance and Budget Moriah Banasick. The presentation included information about trends in enrollment and ending fund balance. Board and staff discussed the budget process, including plans to start discussions earlier; board members requested additional information about the impacts of the cuts that were made in the past two years and about proposed potential cuts in order to balance the district’s budget. Director Sydne Mullings said that she is looking forward to having earlier conversations with additional information to provide context about the cuts that have already occurred and future proposed cuts – for example, how changes in one program impact other programs. 

To watch the review of the Work Study Session, visit our YouTube Channel. 

 

Town Hall Report 

The School Board hosted a Town Hall on Nov. 2 at Maywood Middle School. Director Suzanne Weaver said that about 10 people attended, which allowed time for all of the questions to be answered. The majority of the questions revolved around Special Education. Director Marnie Maraldo said that it was good to hear from parents and guardians of Special Education. She noted that while the district has “moved the needle” since the time her own students were in school, there is still more to be done particularly in the area of reading, which will help in many other subjects. Director Mullings mentioned there were also questions about the budget, and that the board recommended community members refer to the district’s Guide to Understanding the Budget, and also the monthly budget updates (which are in a new, more digestible format and can be found in the consent agenda). 

To watch the review of the Town Hall, visit our YouTube Channel. 

 

Works in Progress  

Superintendent Heather Tow-Yick shared brief highlights about multiple topics: 

  • Safety remains a top priority for the district. We always have resources and support for counseling and grief available in our schools and on our website.  

  • Earlier that day, she had the opportunity to hear from about 70 students in the ASB classes at Issaquah High School with teacher Curtis Evans, Principal Erin Connolly and Executive Director of High School Education Andrea Zier. Students talked about mental health, sports, social emotional well-being and more. Hearing directly from the students was “really great and energizing,” Tow-Yick said. She will be visiting classes at Liberty and Skyline in coming weeks. 

  • Middle school: During recent EL-11 monitoring report, questions were asked about how we might be able to best support our middle school students. Executive Director of Middle Schools Sherri Kokx had mentioned looking at the bus schedule. We will be adding supervision capacity so that middle school students who ride buses with high school students can get off the bus immediately rather waiting on the buses for supervision in the schools. 

  • All preschool teachers attended early learning professional development called Creative Curriculum, which involves inclusive practices, and a least restrictive environment while common learning standards. 

  • Engagement and partnerships: While her First 100 Days have officially concluded, she will be continuing ongoing meetings to further her learning. Those include continued meetings with the Issaquah Schools Foundation and its new executive director; new president and CEO of Issaquah Chamber of Commerce.  

  • At the district’s “all administrator” meeting this week; overview of our approach to strategic planning. 

  • Strategic planning: moving forward to contract with an outside agency, which will likely proceed in January. 

  • Equity Advisory Committee: The district in partnership with the Issaquah Education Association is putting together this group, with up to 20 participants. 

  • VOICE Mentor Program: close to 300 matches have been made, and more students waiting for a mentor. So far, the program has mentors who speak Arabic, Chinese, Russian, Korean, Vietnamese, Farsi, and more. 

  • Last week our district refinanced our 2012 bonds, totaling $50.49 million. This refinancing will save you, as an ISD taxpayer, a total of $2 million over the next five years. Superintendent Tow-Yick shared that these savings flow directly to taxpayers through reduced tax levies and are not available for district expenses. “This is a direct savings to our community members in the form of taxes they expected, but will not have to pay,” Tow-Yick said. Refunding the bonds was approved by our School Board at its Sept. 22 meeting. Since that time, we have been actively monitoring bond market interest rates and have been able to lock in interest rates averaging 3.35% on the new bonds compared to 4.50% on the old debt. 

  • Couple of operations follow-up items: Student Board Representatives shared some direct feedback about items such as ceiling tiles, water bottle refilling stations, composting, janitorial/maintenance needs and more. The Operations team is working to move forward on those items. 

  • Veterans Day: Students and staff had multiple assemblies and recognition, thanking veterans in many ways. “It was great to welcome the community back into our schools,” and have the opportunity to thank our veterans in person this year, Tow-Yick said. 
     

To watch Superintendent Tow-Yick's full report about works in progress, visit our YouTube Channel

 

High School Athletics and Activities Discussion  

Executive Director of High School Education Andrea Zier and Executive Director of Finance and Budget Moriah Banasick shared a presentation about high school athletics, including participation, access to programs, revenue and more. Zier began the presentation with an overview of the sports offered at the high school level throughout the district and then continued by reviewing the staffing ratio used to determine the amount allocated for stipends. It is important to know that staffing ratios can be misleading as some coaches are volunteers and others split allocated stipends between two or more individuals.   

Facilities are all shared by girls and boys programs including soccer, tennis, basketball, etc. with the exception of baseball and softball having unique fields. The cost for students to participate in sports in the Issaquah School District is $200 for one season or $400 for two or more seasons. Students are also required to purchase an Associated Student Body (ASB) card to be eligible for participation. Additional revenue sources include boosters, capital projects, and district funding.  

Student driven expenses include coaches, non-league games/travel, additional equipment upgrades, gear beyond basic uniforms, and team celebrations.  

Watch the presentation and discussion about high school athletics on our YouTube channel

 

School Year Calendar  

Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Donna Hood presented school calendars for the upcoming school years of 2023-24, 2024-25, and 2025-26. Director Harlan Gallinger said he thinks that calendars should be driven based on student learning not based on the preferences of staff or other adults. He also stated that a consistent school schedule from year to year is important. Director Sydne Mullings shared that she was grateful for the presentation of multiple years and that the calendars represent the survey results well as well as aligning with previous calendars. The motion to approve all three calendars was passed with a 3-2 vote. 

Watch the discussion about school year calendars on our YouTube channel

 

Monitoring Report: Executive Limitation 1 (EL-1) Executive Constraint  

Superintendent Heather Tow-Yick shared that based on the evidence she has, she believes the district to be in compliance. Tow-Yick shared that she takes it very seriously to uphold the organization’s brand and credibility in accordance with maintaining public trust and confidence. As such, she has added additional checks and balances into place to ensure smooth operation in the future through internal controls and quality check points. The board members decided to push out the discussion and future approval of the monitoring report. To read about the district’s Executive Limitations, visit our website. 

Watch the discussion about EL-1 on our YouTube channel

 

Monitoring Report EL-13 Facilities  

Chief of Finance and Operations Martin Turney shared that there are a number of issues as it relates to opening up our facilities to the public as the world has slowly reopened since the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, including but not limited to staffing shortages. Director Harlan Gallinger shared that he would be interested in additional information as it relates to change orders on projects and the forecasted costs as it relates to authorized construction timelines. EL-13 passed unanimously.  

Watch the discussion of the monitoring report for EL-13 on our YouTube Channel

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