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The Issaquah Press
Issaquah, Washington
February 25, 2009     The Issaquah Press
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February 25, 2009
 

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THE ISSAQUAH PRESS WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 2009 , A3 Schools budget is a work in progress Officials seek community input BY CHANTELLE LUSEBRINK With this year's state budget deficit, district officials are keeping a close eye on their budget devel- opment process and are asking for community input. District offi- cials like Jacob Kuper, the dis- trict's chief of finance and operations, are busy working to create the E-mail your thoughts about the school district's budget to Budget2OO9@issaq uah.wednet.edu. 2009-10 school year budget, in the midst of a potential $8 billion state deficit. Without a firm budget adopted by the state Legislature, Kuper said, he can't guess what might have to be cut from the budget, but he is preparing for several out- comes. "As these cold days transition into milder spring temperatures, I wish there was some hope that we would likewise go out like a lamb while weathering the state's financial cri- sis in coming months," Superintendent Steve Rasmussen ,wrote in a letter to the community. However, it looks like we are in for all tiger: Every week, the state budg- et gap seems to grow in response to stormier economic forecasts." When Gov. Chris Gregoire issued her budget Dec. 18, the state budg- et deficit was projected at about $5 billion. Her budget cut nearly $3.5 billion in health, corrections, parks and education. The impact to the Issaquah School District was a $2.34 million reduction in funding. However, as the legislative ses- sion has gotten under way, deficit estimates have gr to between $5 billion and $gown billion. One thing the governor's budget and potential legislative budgets have in common is the weight being given to cutting Initiative 728 funding, which pays for small- er class sizes. If those funds are reduced, the outcome would be increased class sizes and fewer teachers. In the governor's budget, Kuper said, roughly $1.4 million of the $2.34 million reduction was linked to 1-728 funding, which would mean cutting about 20 teaching jobs. However, ff all 1-728 money is cut, the district would have to reduce its budget by $7.2 million, Kuper said. That equates to rough- ly 80 teachers and about 32,000 professional development hours. And that may not be the worst of it. The Legislature's budget could cut other state-funded professional development days and/or addition- ally reduce funding for other teaching positions, Kuper said. "We are uncertain at this point CRmCAL BUDGET PLANNING DALES March 19: New economic fore- cast from the State Economic and Revenue Forecast Council April 20: Issaquah Education Association members are informed of potential layoffs and the level of seniority required to guarantee a position next school year. April 26: Last day for regular legislative session - A special session may be convened to .resolve the state budget. May 15: Reduction in force notices are given to certified staff members who may be laid off. May 27: Last day for public testimony regarding use of 1-728 money, if funds are available. July: Preliminary budget hearing Aug. 17: Final public testimony taken regarding the district's 2009-10 budget Aug. 31: School board members adopt a final 2009-10 budgaL Source: Issaquah School District what a worst-case scenario could be, as the Legislature is still in ses- sion and neither the House nor the Senate has provided a budget," he said. "The best possible scenario was the budget released by the governor." In his letter, Rasmussen explained that district officials have been going to each building to find new cost-saving measures, like eliminating open positions, and talking about teacher layoffs. His letter also explained some of the year-to-year cost savings dis- trict officials have implemented, like becoming more energy effi- cient and tightening bus routes. "This is a situation we didn't cre- ate as a district -- we have kept our house in exceptional financial shape -- and so we are in a wait- ing game as the Legislature puts together a budget that will pull direct funding sources from our educational programs," Rasmussen wrote. As district officials continue to craft the budget through spring and summer, they are relying on the community's best thinking for how to conserve money for educa- tional programs, he wrote. As a result, people are encour- aged to share their ideas, by send- ing e-mails or attending board meetings. Residents can also get involved by staying up to date with affairs in Olympia or joining other profes- sional and parent organizations, like the PTSA, in lobbying. Reach Reporter Chantelle Lusebrink at 392-6434, ext. 241, or chsebrink@iss- press.corn. Comment on this story at www.issaquahpress.com. City considers encouraging solar panels, wind turbines for homes BY WARREN KAGARISE 'City planners are working to streamline the process for home- owners who want to add solar pan- els or wind turbines to their homes. The proposal would add alterna- tive-energy provisions to the city's land use code at a time when city officials are considering measures to improve the city's environmen- tal record. "We wanted to be sure we were embracing this new technology for alternative energy," Long-Range Planning Manager Trish Heinonen said during the Feb. 19 Council Land Use Committee meeting. The proposed code amendment would set rules for solar arrays and wind turbines across all types of municipal zones. Heinonen said planners began drafting the pro- posal after a homeowner called with questions about adding a wind turbine to his property. Officials hope to present the pro- posal to the Planning Policy Commission by late spring. Although the devices are unlike- ly to reduce utility bills, officials pointed to other potential benefits. "They might not turn your meters backward, but they are good teach- ing tools, Heinonen said. Land Use Committee members also weighed proposed amend- ments to the city's Comprehensive Plan, a roadmap of long-term growth targets. The full City Council will likely consider the pro- posals next month. The state Growth Management Act requires the city to prepare, implement and update a compre- hensive plan. Issaquah adopted its Comprehensive Plan in 1995. In 2008, during the last round of Comprehensive Plan amendments, officials added language to address climate change. Now, as the plan goes through its annual update, officials are considering how to best translate the climate-change commitment into city programs. Councilman John Rittenhouse, a member of the Land Use Committee, said officials should start by asking how to make exist- ing city programs more sustainable. "We want to start with the things we can control and then start branching out from there," he said. Improvements to water and sewer systems, as well as upgrades for city parks, will also be consid- ered among the proposed amend- ments. An option to annex the Klahanie area, though unlikely to be pur- sued, will move forward. The pro- posed annexation was discussed during the last round of Comprehensive Plan amendment proposals. Rittenhouse and Councilman John Traeger, who also serves on the Land Use Committee, decided the full City Council should be afforded an opportunity to consid- er the annexation proposal. "Unless there's a reason, I can't see why we would have to revisit that this year," Rittenhouse said. Reach Reporter Warren Kagarise at 392- 6434, ext. 234, or wkagarisspress.com. Comment on this story at www.issaquah- press, com. Education reform bills are squashed BY CHANTELLE LUSEBRINK, Hopes for education reform in the state were partially dashed Feb. 18 when both legislative bod- ies rejected further discussion on House Bill 1410 and Senate Bill 5444, two bills Issaquah School Board members and the PTSA fully endorsed. "In terms of what is coming out of the Legislature, the education reform proposals are still alive," said Rep. Glenn Anderson. "The challenge we have is coming to the best of our abilities to a broad aEeement. The devil is always in the details," he said. The two bills were the result of several years of studies, ideas and recommendations from two groups, the Joint Task Force on Basic Education Finance, and its predecessor, the Washington Learns Steering Committee. Final recommendations from each were included in the two pieces of legislation local repre- sentatives, like Senators Rodney Tom and Fred Jarrett, and Representatives Anderson, Ross Hunter and Jay Rodne, created and/or endorsed. "I don't believe it was a wasted effort," said Connie Fletcher, an Issaquah School Board member and its legislative representative. "There was a lot of good research that came from that group and I have to believe it will be put to good use." Despite years of work, many groups, like the Washington Education Association and its members, had several problems with the bills, specifically those portions that changed teacher's salary schedule and additional reporting and oversight reporting without identified fimding sources. "The biggest challenge has been the Washington Education Association and its membership, and how it hasn't been entirely, consistent in this process,' Anderson said, adding, he realizes change to the profession can be difficult. "In the next few weeks, we are really going to have to have heart-to-heart conversations, because half the teachers in the state retire within the next 10 years, and our obligation is to setup a pipeline and a framework to be successful for the next gen- eration." Locally, Neva Luke, president of CONTACTYOUR LEGISLATOR Go to www.leg.wa.gov/legislature then click on "Find Your Legislator" on the lee hand navigation bar, then submit your address. A list of your legislators, and their contact information, will come up. the Issaquah Education Association, expressed her mem- berships' concerns to school board members before they endorsed the two bills Feb. 5. Sen. Eric Oemig, a Democrat from the 45th Legislative District, and Rep. Pat Sullivan, a Democrat from the 47th Legislative District, have sponsored new legislation, Senate Bill 6048 and House Bill 2261, respectively. The two were drafted as intent- only bills, meaning the bills only declare the Legislature's intent to revise the definition of basic edu- cation and its funding system. The two bills do not identify how that will be done. Instead, the two representatives are meeting with education, par- ent and government stakeholders to work through each section of House Bill 1410 and Senate Bill 5444 to find consensus and com- promise for the language of the two new bills. As the process gets started, Anderson said, he still sees this as the year to pass reform. "We get paid to make the tough decisions people can't or won't make, and if we can't or won't make them for the next genera- tion, then who is?" he asked. Fletcher said representatives from local groups, like the PTSA, teachers' association, unions and school board, have gathered to dis- cuss common ground and find com- promise to include in the new bills then report back to state legislators. "We found common ground," she said. "The first section is the redefinition of basic education and includes the graduation requirements. That was common ground for everyone." The group also agreed on the fourth section of the bill, which includes what happens to the levy system and other sources of funding. However, there were strong dis- putes over the second and third sections of the bill, which outlined moving teachers from a seniority- based to a performance-based compensation system and how much additional accountability reporting is necessary. Help from residents is needed to help ensure reform is passed this year, Fletcher said. "Please contact your legislators and urge them to pass new state policy this session that redefines basic education and establishes a funding formula that is adequate and equitable," she said. "We get paid to make the tough decisions people can't or won't make, and if we can't or won't make them for the next generation, then who is?" - Glenn Anderson State representn 5th Oistrict BY MOUNTAINS TO SOUND GREENWAY TRUST LOOPY VOLUNTEERS The Squak Mountain Equestrian Loop Trail received updating and rebuilding the weekend of Feb. 14-15 with the work of volunteers from the Pacific Cascade Freshman Campus, Interlake and Skyline high schools, Bank of America, Overlake Medical Center and the Uni- versity of Washington. Here, Karim Ghandour and James Ingersill put logs in place to build a new section. 1 I I I I I I I I I _.ALTER AND JEANNE KIRK enjoy ART, HIKING, BRITISH MYSTERIES favorite cuisine BURRITOS, HONEYDEW MELON SLICES;WRAPPED IN PROSCIUTTO, FINE MERLOT AND CABERNET SAUVIGNON chose ?mber Ridge because CONTEMPORARY NORTHWEST ARCHITECTURE WITH STUNNING VIEWS, WONDERFUL FRIENDSHIPS, SECURITY OF LIFECARE'* -"ER AND JEANNE KIRK MOVED INTO THEIR NEW" HOME AT TIMBER RIDGE high expectations. Listening to the Kirks, their expectations have been met- and exceeded. When they're not hiking the expansive, protected forest around them, the Kirks spend their time like many residents.., enjoying the beautiful views and seemingly endless on-sire services and opportunities such as social hours, fitness classes and nutritious, chef-prepared meals. As the nation's first senior living community to be certified for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED'), the Kirks take comfort in knowing their home was buik with environmentally friendly, sustainable materials. And, with the security of Timber Ridge's L/feCare program, the Kirks no longer have to worry about the cost or quality of long-term health care in the future. The L/feCare program assures the Kirks lifetime use of their lovely Timber Ridge residence, plus unlimited access to assisted living, skilled nursing or memory care in a private suite at the on-campus Briarwood Health Center. Importantly, this long-term health care is provided at substantially the same rate they are paying now for their residence and represents a significant savings when compared to other health care options. Learn more about LifeCare by ealling (425) 427-2929. The "LEED Certification Mark" is a registered trademark owned 00TINB00 E LIVE. YovR. tlr00.. CALL (425) 427-2929 TODAY. , .412e Care Services Community ,._ by the U.S. Green Buildir Council and is used by permission. 45718 100 TIMBER RIDGE WAY NW, ISSAQUAH, WA 98027 (425) 427-2929 TOLL-FREE (888) 427-2929 Www.TIMBERRIDGELCS.cOM --,,