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Issaquah School District adopts new boundary lines

Issaquah School District Superintendent Steve Rasmussen approved new school district boundaries Dec. 9 in a letter issued to the community. He wrote: “Today, I am pleased to officially adopt the committee’s final recommendation for implementation in the fall of 2010… The committee’s final recommendation… achieves a remarkable balance of the parameters. I attended all but one meeting, and I was impressed by the members’ holistic approach.” The new boundaries will go into effect in fall 2010, coinciding with the opening of a new Sammamish elementary school and conversion of Pacific Cascade Freshman Campus into a middle school. The boundary review was officially adopted at the Dec. 10 school board meeting, which also included a presentation about the new boundaries and boundary review process. The process began in February when Rasmussen established the Boundary Review Committee, made up of the principal and one parent representative from each school in the district, to assess how existing boundary lines should be changed to prepare for the opening of two new schools. The original thought had been to shift the boundaries around those schools, but the extensive ripples from that made a district-wide review a more logical choice, said Sara Niegowski, Issaquah School District public information officer. The 44 person committee based its decisions on a charter developed by school board members, which included parameters such as clean feeder patterns, bus routes and travel time, and balancing student populations between the schools. Ten meetings, all open to the public, were held between Feb. 27 and Oct. 15, when the final recommendation was made to Rasmussen. The lines for a handful of elementary and middle schools were shifted to send students to the new school, but high school boundaries remain the same. Rasmussen emphasized the importance of maintaining clean feeder patterns for high schools, and said that in most cases, students will be together from kindergarten until their senior year. In all, 16 schools will be affected by boundary changes. The next step for the committee is to develop transition plans to help students adjust to their new schools. This might include holding events that future students would be invited to, enlisting current students as tour guides of the schools, and being available for parent questions, Niegowski said. Several community members who attended the school board meeting raised concerns with the new boundaries, and how they will affect their children and communities. Rasmussen acknowledged this in his letter, writing: “I understand that school changes can cause great angst for families. However, I hope you can view the new boundaries in this light - as a catalyst for even greater learning. Proper enrollment, efficient facility use, and clean feeder patterns across the district provide a cornerstone for excellent education... the quality of education in the Issaquah School District does not vary depending on your school or zip code.” Maps of the new boundaries are available on the district’s Web site, www.issaquah.wednet.edu, along with a link where families can enter their home address to see if their attendance areas have been shifted.
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