Dear Issaquah School District Community,
A new school year always brings great anticipation. Every year I spend the first day of school visiting buildings to join in the activity and excitement of students returning to school and being received by our wonderful teachers, principals, and support staff. Behind the scenes, many people have been working hard throughout the summer to ensure a positive and productive experience for all of our students and continue our work in safety, sustainability, and creating a culture of kindness.
I want to thank the community for its tremendous support of our 2016 school bond. As those of us who live in the District are well aware, our community is experiencing tremendous growth with new houses, apartments, and commercial construction projects everywhere you look. The District continues to grow, along with the community, adding more than 450 new students for this school year as our student head count exceeds 20,000 for the first time. As we finish out the construction projects from the 2012 school bond at Issaquah Middle School and Gibson Ek this year and Clark Elementary in fall 2017, the 2016 school bond will allow us to build and expand schools to increase our capacity in the coming years.
Inside our classrooms, the District is continuing our work to develop and implement Positive Behavioral Social Emotional Support, or PBSES in our schools. We are also continuing to work on the issues of grade reporting and its connection to homework. As we tackle these subjects, we also strive to provide the very best curriculum and professional development to support student learning. The new Gibson Ek High School represents our innovative thinking in ways to support student achievement in a nontraditional school environment.
This is also the first time the Issaquah School District is providing state funded Full-Day Kindergarten for every family in the District who wants it. We are very excited about this new opportunity for our students and families.
In the 2015-2016 school year, the issue of school start and end times came to the forefront. We all learned a great deal from scientific studies regarding the sleep cycles of teenagers. After introducing a new start and end times proposal, we engaged the community with a District-wide Thought Exchange process and held three community meetings last spring. From the feedback we received, we modified our original proposal to start middle and high schools later and we will be re-visiting this proposal in the coming weeks. I am committed to making a decision on start and end times for the 2017-2018 school year by December 2016 to give families and staff time to plan.
Student behavior management, grade reporting, bell times and growth management are all very significant and complex issues. A challenge public school systems have when addressing important issues like the aforementioned is ensuring that while we study, implement, and look forward, that we never forget to enjoy each day as it comes. Please know that every day we come to work committed to our mission to prepare each and every student for the academic, occupational, personal, and practical challenges of life in a dynamic global environment. I am excited about the coming year with all of the challenges and opportunities that a new school year brings. Have a wonderful school year.
Superintendent Ron Thiele