Issaquah schools plan their future around city’s expected growth
December 21, 2013
By Neil Pierson
New: Dec. 21, 3:14 p.m.
Officials are hoping to break ground on the new Issaquah Middle School next summer, and the replacement building will look much different than what was first envisioned.
The city of Issaquah’s 30-year plan for its central business district is expected to add more than 7,700 residential units, and it’s forcing the Issaquah School District to think of long-term impacts to its facilities.
Steve Crawford, the district’s director of capital projects, told school board members Dec. 11 that if downtown Issaquah grows as projected over the next three decades, it would add an estimated 2,850 students to the school district’s enrollment. That represents a 15 percent increase over the district’s current population of 18,400 students.
While much of the growth won’t be coming any time soon, the city’s plans are already impacting schools. Voters approved funding in April 2012 for a new Issaquah Middle School, but rather than build a two-story school, the district is now planning for a three-story structure that would have a smaller footprint and allow for future additions on adjacent land.
“It is smart to create these schools in a way that’s easy to build on to,” Superintendent Ron Thiele told the board.
Crawford said the district has been in contact with city officials about long-term growth projections, and it’s necessary for the school system to adapt in tandem. Under the district’s current projections, a 2,850-student increase equals two new elementary schools, a new middle school and half of a high school, Crawford said.
“It’s hard to predict how the new units will actually develop new students, and it’s hard to predict how that relates to aging of other areas,” he added.
Thiele said a three-story design for IMS will help accommodate future growth, but it won’t mean a heftier price tag. The final board-approved bond package in 2011 budgeted the school at $62.5 million.
The district hopes to begin construction on the new IMS next summer, although Thiele acknowledged that as an “aggressive timeline.”
The superintendent went on to say that the large, multi-family homes being planned for downtown Issaquah will impact populations at Issaquah Valley and Clark elementary schools. Issaquah Valley is in the midst of a modernization project, and Clark will eventually have a new $19 million facility on the footprint of the old Issaquah Middle School.
However, those projects won’t increase in size or scope from what was approved in the 2012 bond measure.
“We’re not increasing the size of any of the buildings that currently exist or that are being planned for,” Thiele said.
Crawford noted officials are designing a central bus loop that would serve both Issaquah High and Issaquah Middle School. Each school currently has its own bus loop.
The schools, which are in close promixity, already share many of the same buses, and there is flexibility in terms of transportation schedules even though the schools don’t start or end at the same times. Crawford said the joint loop wouldn’t reduce the number of parking spaces at the high school.
SCHOOL BOARD CHANGES
At its Dec. 11 meeting, the Issaquah School Board welcomed newly-elected member Lisa Callan into its ranks, and named second-term member Marnie Maraldo its new president.
Callan won the race for the District 4 seat in November, defeating incumbent Alison Meryweather by a 52-48 percent margin. District 4 covers much of Issaquah’s southern half.
A former engineer at Boeing, Callan has lived in Issaquah since 2003 and has a son who attends Grand Ridge Elementary School. She has served in numerous PTSA leadership roles, and is a Kiwanis Club member.
Maraldo, who was first elected to the board in 2009, ran unopposed this year for the District 2 seat and won reelection with nearly 99 percent of the vote. She lives in Newcastle.
Maraldo has a degree in applied mathematics and formerly worked with Cisco Systems and NASA’s Ames Research Center. She has a son at Maywood Middle School and a daughter at Newcastle Elementary.
The board is legally required to elect a president annually or whenever new members join, and Maraldo replaces District 3 director Brian Deagle in the role. She was the lone nominee and was selected unanimously.