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The Issaquah School Board held a regular meeting Thursday, March 9, 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. Or, for other board information such as upcoming meeting dates, times and agendas, and more, visit our School Board page.      


2023-24 Budget Discussion 

Chief of Finance and Operations Martin Turney shared a presentation about the 2023-24 Budget Process. The budget for General Fund operating expenditures is created in a process each year that begins with the assessment of district enrollment (current and projected) and legislative decisions that impact funding. 

“We have to reduce our budget to meet our financial obligations,” Turney said. “We need to right-size and course-correct. … This is part of a multi-year plan.”  

While budget reductions are necessary, the amount is less than originally predicted, because the district’s ending fund balance will be larger than projected in the fall. 

The process to create the 23-24 budget has included a number of opportunities for community members to learn about the budget and share their feedback. Several people also offered public comment about the budget during this agenda item discussion. 

Turney shared that two factors have improved the ending fund balance projections slightly since the fall: 

  • Enrollment: While current and projected enrollment numbers are down, the decrease is less than in prior predictions, Turney said. This results in an addition of about $2.5 million to the district’s ending fund balance for this school year. 

  • Transportation funding from the state was about $3.2 million more than the original projection of what our district would receive. 

Several factors that may impact the budget are still “unknowns." While the regular legislative session is not over, it’s possible that actions that the Legislature takes before the session ends will impact the ISD budget. Also, the amount of Safety Net reimbursement for Special Services is not yet available. How inflation may impact the cost of Materials, Supplies and Operating Costs for 2023-24 such as fuel, utilities, insurance and more is not yet known. 

Based on the district’s projected enrollment, as well as other impacts on district revenue and expenditures, and the projected ending fund balance, Turney and Tow-Yick are recommending a budget reduction of about $9.8 million for the 2023-24 school year budget – which represents about 2.63% of the total district budget. 

District officials propose meeting that reduction by making reductions, with 81% coming from the Administration Building and related services. A Reduction in Force (RIF) of certificated staff is not proposed or planned as part of this proposed reduction. The proposed reduction also does not call for any school closures or boundary changes for the 2023-24 school year. 

The proposal at the central Administration Building and Operations includes: 

  • Some roles and/or work will be reduced, rescoped or restructured. 

  • Unrepresented staff reductions of about 15 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions, for an amount of about $2.3 million. 

  • Represented staff reductions of about 10 FTE positions, for about $1.5 million. 

  • Reductions of materials, supplies and operating costs of about $4.1 million. 

The proposal at school buildings includes: 

  • Enrollment-related staffing (right-sizing based on enrollment projections) adjustments of about 10 FTE, which is expected to be possible based on attrition, in an amount of about $1.5 million. 

  • A reduction of the school budgets annual discretionary allocation of about $225,000. 

  • An adjustment of administration staffing at high schools in an amount of about $162,000. 

The district is also utilizing all available methods for reductions, including managing reductions through staff attrition, reducing the use of consultants and service providers, suspending some travel, and more. 

Some additional investments may be added to meet the needs of the system and support priority areas in the Strategic Plan. 

To watch the staff presentation and board discussion about the 2023-24 Budget, visit our YouTube Channel


Report Out About Legislative Conference 

On Feb. 26 and 27, members of the School Board, Superintendent Heather Tow-Yick and three of the district’s Student Board Representatives attended the annual Legislative Conference and Day on the Hill in Olympia. While at the state capitol, they met with six state legislators who represent areas of the district. Board members thanked Director Harlan Gallinger for coordinating the visits. While meeting with legislators, members of the board and Student Board Representatives advocated for increased funding for school meals and Special Education.   

“It was a real highlight for me to see the opportunity that our student (board representatives) got to have … ,” said Gallinger, sharing a photo of the student board representatives talking with one of the legislators. 

For the board’s full recap about the Legislative Conference and Day on the Hill, visit our YouTube Channel


Report Out About Board Retreat  

The board met for work study sessions on Feb. 10 and March 1 in the boardroom at the ISD Administration Building. During these meetings, board members and district leadership discussed topics including Executive Limitation 12, Equity and Activities, Math Pathways, Student Representatives and Board review and update of Governance Process 12, Strategic Planning and the 2023-24 Budget. No action was taken during the work study retreat sessions. 

For the board’s full review of the board retreat report outs, visit our YouTube Channel


Review of Work Study Session 

Prior to the regular board meeting, the board met for a work study session with staff from our Capital Projects Department. During the work study, staff members shared a new format for reports to the board about capital projects updates, which will include a memo and a one-pager with pertinent details about project statistics, budget, funding, schedule and status. These updates will also be posted to the Capital Projects portion of the district website. Board members said that the new style of update documents will be helpful, and a step forward in providing information to both the board and the public. Director Marnie Maraldo said that the new format of information will be helpful particularly in bond projects that are delayed, as has been the case with several capital projects. Delays cause very significant cost increases, and are often caused by factors not within the district’s control. 

Also, during the work study session, the board heard an update about historical and projected enrollment, a six-year outlook for the Capital Fund, and an update about the funding and project cost for the next New High School. 

To watch the board’s full review of the capital projects work study session, visit our YouTube Channel. 


Acceptance of Final Completion: Issaquah High School Stadium Improvements 

Spee West Construction Co. has completed its contract work on the Issaquah High School Stadium improvements project, which was funded with dollars from the 2012 bond approved by voters. Mahlum Architects Inc. recommended that the board approve, Feb. 6, 2023, as the date of Final Completion in accordance with the Certificate of Substantial Completion Notice dated Aug. 31, 2022.  

The project's original scope included renovation of the press box and increasing the number of seats in the home and visitor sections. One of the constraints impacting this project was the City Code, which requires one parking spot for every three seats in the stadium.  

The press box, home seats and improved ADA access on the home stadium have been completed. The remaining project for the visitor side will be carried out by district staff by the fall of 2023. This will increase visitor seats, including improved ADA accessibility. 

Members of the public, including one member of the original bond development committee from the 2012 bond, shared comments about the project. 

The board voted 4-0 to approve the final acceptance of project completion. 

To watch the board discussion and public comment about this topic, visit our YouTube Channel


Works in Progress: Strategic Plan 

Superintendent Tow-Yick shared that the district hosted a Community Listening Session last week to gather feedback about the Strategic Plan and the 2023-24 budget process.  

The district is currently collecting ideas and feedback about one piece of the Strategic Plan – a draft vision statement – via a ThoughtExchange, which is open through March 15

District staff and the board are planning a work study session to discuss connections between the district’s Ends for students, Executive Limitations and the Strategic Plan. 

For Superintendent Tow-Yick's full works in progress update, visit our YouTube Channel


Monitoring Report for Executive Limitation 10: Structure of Schools 

A motion was made, and the board unanimously approved EL-10 Structure of Schools.  

The board had a robust conversation in the Feb. 9 meeting on EL-10, which you can watch on our YouTube Channel.  


Monitoring Report EL-16 Equity 

Superintendent Tow-Yick thanked the student representatives to the School Board for their input about this topic. 

Executive Director of Equity Alaina Sivadasan and Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Donna Hood shared and responded to questions pertaining to EL-16 regarding Equity as posed by the board.  

Director Gallinger asked about the frequency of use of the Equity Framework for supplemental materials. Per our union contract, teachers have control over the supplemental materials in their classrooms. This framework works as a guide for teachers to help make informed decisions and  selections of these materials. 

President Mullings asked if or how we bring in equity as it relates to coursework and extracurricular materials. As an example, she said she wonders what we are doing to recruit mentors, volunteers and advisors of underrepresented groups. 

The board members voted to approve the monitoring report, 5-0. 

For the board’s full discussion about EL-16, visit our YouTube Channel

  • Finance
  • School Board
  • Superintendent

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