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Issaquah Highlands School Spotlight: May 2021

School Spotlight

Declining Student Enrollment Impacts ISD Budget

Due to substantial declines in student enrollment (8.1% in the last two years) and further projected enrollment declines for the coming year, the Issaquah School District’s (ISD) operating budget is facing a reduction (school districts receive funding from the state on a per-student basis).  ISD also faced unexpected cost increases as a result of the pandemic, which continues to diminish reserves.

On April 14, the Issaquah School Board approved a 2021-2022 Program/Service Reduction plan that includes $22 million in cuts. After the new state budget was finalized, ISD announced on April 30 that the district’s budget is expected to be higher, allowing ISD to restore most of the program/service reductions laid out on April 14.

Unfortunately, the district is still facing an enrollment decline which will require reductions in staffing.

“We need to differentiate between the COVID things that caused us to reduce fund balance, and the enrollment hits that caused us to decrease teacher population,” ISD Board President Susan Weaver said.

According to Weaver, program restoration will be a priority.

“Budget money can come back, via enrollment increasing,” Weaver said. “State money that can come to us, state COVID relief money or enrollment money. [We’re] taking all those different buckets into account.”

“Facing significant revenue decreases, our objective is to preserve a balanced, rigorous educational experience for students,” ISD Superintendent Ron Thiele said. “Despite the cuts, our schools are still rich with two unquantifiable resources: excellent staff and community support. We especially want to thank all of the legislators who represent parts of the ISD for their support in advocating for our district funding. Come September we are hopeful that our schools will be open five days a week and ready to embark on a quality year of learning.”

More School News

Issaquah School District Board of Directors Statement on In-School Learning for 2021-22

Issaquah School District’s (ISD) intention for the 2021-22 school year is to be fully open and provide in-person learning five days a week. According to Resolution 1164, “The Board believes that in-person learning provides the greatest opportunity for students’ academic success and social-emotional well-being. THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Board of Directors of the Issaquah School District that the 2021-22 school year fully open to in-person learning barring regulatory prohibition. In addition, the Board wants to pursue changes that would be necessary for the District to allow for remote school opportunities in response to emergency issues.”

“This is an important input to the next conversation…as we look at the list of unknowns causing us to have a challenging time at the moment,” ISD board member and Issaquah Highlands resident Sydnee Mullings said. “This is in our direct control, which is ‘What is the modality of school in the fall?’…This is a critical step… because it is what’s in our purview to make a definitive statement.”

New ISD High School #4 Update

Issaquah School District (ISD) is currently working with the city of Issaquah to determine a first construction permit issuance schedule for High School #4. The proposed site is located at 4200 – 228th Ave. SE, Issaquah, and is also planned to accommodate the new Elementary School #17. Currently, the proposed construction schedule shows the project starting in August-September 2021. For more information, listen to the district-wide update on construction projects, or see the ISD Capital Projects web page

Clark Library Donations to Cancel Student Fines

During the pandemic, the Clark Elementary School library lost over 100 books, many of their most popular titles, totaling over $1,500 in lost fines. Clark Elementary recognizes families may lack the resources to pay fines, so the school invites those interested in helping to donate books from an Amazon wish list directly to support Clark’s library collection. Each book donated cancels out a student fine. Browse the Amazon Wishlist here: Clark Library Wishlist. Questions? Email Ms. Guillen.

How to Help Teens with Mental Health Struggles

Learn how to recognize and help your child with mental health issues before they become a problem. On May 6 at 7 p.m., join Sara Young, development support specialist at Influence the Choice to discuss ways to recognize mental health issues, and how to support kids for the long term. A panel of teens will also be present to provide insights and answer questions. Register for the Zoom conversation here. Questions? Email Katie Moeller, Special Projects Coordinator. Presented by Influence the Choice, in partnership with the Issaquah Schools Foundation.

Class of 2022 SAT & ACT Summer Testing

Many post-secondary schools are not requiring students to take standardized tests, SAT or ACT, for Fall 2022 admissions. While COVID-19 has led to increased flexibility, schools are rethinking testing options altogether. Letters of recommendation, running start or dual credit courses, and successes in certain high school classes are becoming favored measures. In 2021, Washington’s public four-year colleges did not require SAT or ACT scores for fall freshman admission. Test-optional policies are now being reconsidered for 2022 admissions.

Beyond public institutions, competitive schools may use SAT or ACT scores as an extra value tool when considering applications. Other private schools might not require scores but allow their submission. In that case, not testing won’t hurt but good scores could help. Many student scholarships take test scores under consideration.

Learn more at WA Student Achievement Council. For summer testing deadlines and information, visit the College Board website.

Issaquah Youth Advisory Board

The city of Issaquah’s Youth Advisory Board is now accepting applications. All students currently in grades 5-11 are welcome to apply. The Youth Advisory Board is comprised of representatives from Issaquah middle and high schools, homeschools, and those living within the Issaquah School District. Board terms are one school year. The 2021-22 application process includes an application and two reference forms due May 14. Questions? Contact Cathy Jones at (Note: The Issaquah Youth Advisory Board is a separate organization from the Issaquah Highlands Youth Advisory Board (HY). )

Tracie Jones is an Issaquah Highlands resident.