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Issaquah, Washington
December 9, 2009     The Issaquah Press
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December 9, 2009

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THE ISSAQUAH PRESS WEDNESDAY DECEMBER 9, 2009 A5 Successful freshman hom00 vork program still draws criticism By Chantelle Lusebrk Issaquah Press reporter Just like their students, Pacific Cascade Freshman Campus teach- ers and principal are eagerly awaiting this semester's grades. At the beginning of the school year, teachers and Principal Dana Bailey launched a new program, Homework On Time, where school officials called students' homes when homework wasn't turned in. Essentially, the program holds students accountable for turning in their assignments, but not simply by entering it as a zero in the grade book. Instead, students are made to turn in their work after teachers give their parents a call, whether they get credit from their teacher or not. Every student who has a missing assignment fills out a pink slip that includes information about the assignment, teacher, due date, date 1, IIULLU vttt xat ltu tvoutto .9,t not finishing it on time. After filling out the form, teachers would follow up with calls home. "This is school and we do school work here," Bailey said regarding the message she wants to send to students. The program was developed after several teachers attended a Professional Learning Community conference during summer break. "We asked ourselves, 'What is one thing that we can do different- 1)7 to positively impact the lives of this ninth-grade class?'" Bailey said. "Absences and missed work are really significant factors in poor grades and poor performance in school." With research into previous years' classes, Bailey and her staff found 95 percent of students who were failing by the first quarter of school were still failing at the end of the semester. "The information we gleaned from that was early diagnosis is important," she said. Since parents of freshmen still children's lives, school officials hoped to keep many of them from falling through the cracks by keep- ing parents informed of their stu- dents progress, Bailey said. We know sooner if a student is failing in multiple classes, and we didn't need to wait for the quarter to tell us that, when it's almost too late to make it up," she said. When school officials made it a Oal, Bailey said any concerns with culty were resolved and those that have arisen have been taken care of. However, Neva Luke, president of the Issaquah Education Association, said she has received concerns from faculty members of the school regarding the time call- ing families has taken. Luke said she had not seen an official written description of the program and hasn't met with Bailey about it. "I have heard concerns from staff at PCFC regarding the amount of time that the phone calls can take," she wrote in an e-mail. "A to,,h-'c Aw ic l,acl7 nar.lrnrl with instructional and planning time, meetings, responding to e- mails and voice mails. The addi- tional phone calls that this pro- gram requires would have to cut into the other tasks that a teacher must complete each day, or result in the staff taking home even more work than they currently do." At the end of the quarter, Bailey said the results of the program were impressive and that the majority of the school's 994 stu- dents had improved their grade point averages. In fact, 755 of them have a 3.0 or higher grade point average. Preliminary data from the school's quarter grades determined there were the same number of students with As and students with Fs as there has been in previous years, Bailey said. But the number of students that float in the low C and D range had improved their grades vastly. Many have high Cs and Bs, she said. In fact, at the end of the quarter, the school's average grade point mo.r 2 22 Tnet xrnr nnJt in years past, it-he] steady between 3.0 and 3.1, Bailey said. "I'd love to say this at the semes- ter," she said. "But only time will tell." Bailey said she would have more complete data when semester grades begin coming in Jan. 22. The success hasn't come without a price, though. "This is a lot for our teachers and the principals to take on," Bailey said. Hours were spent making phone calls, grading extra papers and reminding students of their obliga- tion to turn in their work. Teachers and principals fit it in wherever possible, she said. "We really asked ourselves what we could do different," she said. "Yes, this is crazy. But we're happy we did it." "As educators, we are always look- ing for ways to help students be suc- cessful, Luke wrote regarding what the school's program can do for stu- dent education. "There also needs to be a more flexible approach, in the PaTnlrnllniPnfi',n hatwaon tho tnnhr student and parents." However, Luke said she does believe students need to be pre- pared to make their own decisions and take responsibility for their actions, to prepare them for life outside the public school system. "In looking at the system as a whole, from K-12, there needs to be a gradual shift in the responsi- bility from the teachers and par- ents to the students," she wrote. For the Homework On Time pro- gram, Bailey said the next step is to phase out the pink slips and phone calls to a more student self-moni- toring system. Students have been given the skills; now they need to follow through, she said. "I anticipate we'll see general movement toward more ninth- raders ready to become success- high school students," she said. "We knew this wasn't sustainable throughout the year, but our hope was to catch them early and hope- fully the habits they've built this year will continue with them." Chantelle Lusebrink: 392-6434, ext. 241, or clusebrink@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com. Highlands FHOM PAGE A1 lon been hailed as a key part of the urban village concept, with homes, offices and shops built within close proximity. When the decade-old community was new, high-end retailers, like Whole Foods Market, were discussed as possible tenants. But a roiling economy and shifting landscape for retailers slowed the plans. Boeker said additional homes would provide the engine for future commercial development. "You need the rooftops to sup- port the businesses," he said. When a 240-unit residential complex reached the Urban llage Development Commission t)r discussion last week, commis- sioners responded with a familiar refrain. "I'm going to be as transparent as possible: I'm ticked off about it," commission Chairman Geoffrey Walker said. "I'm not happy to support anything that is going to bring additional residents before we see a commitment to commercial space." Amenities not Included Walker moved to the highlands in 1998 and was among the first families to settle in the develop- ment. He said neighbors shared the frustration about the slow pace of commercial development in the hillside community. Walker recalled the planned amenities used to attract prospec- tive residents to the highlands. "Well, six months before I even moved in, oh, retail is right around the corner," Walker recalled. "We'll have restaurants, we'll have shopping, we'll have a grocery store, we'll have this, we'll have that -- 11 years later, there's noth- ing on the horizon and I continue to see building of residential prop- erties." Early focus groups with high- lands residents indicated a will- ingness to wait for a high-end gro- cer. Walker, however, said he and other highlands residents had grown impatient. Boeker, in a follow-up interview, said the highlands contain about 1 million square feet of commercial, or about 2 million square feet if the local Microsoft campus is included in the tally. The developer pointed to the shops and restaurants open in the highlands, and large-scale devel- opments under construction. A Swedish Medical Center cam- pus under construction and slated to open in 2011 would draw about 1,000 people to the highlands each day. A self-storage unit is planned for the highlands. A request to amend the agreement between the city and Port Blakely to allow construction of a gas sta- tion in the highlands is under con- sideration by the City Council. Regal Entertainment Group signed a lease for a proposed the- ater with 14 screens, stadium seating, and digital projection and sound slated to open in May 2011. Boeker also acknowledged the problems associated with com- mercial development, and the slow-to-materialize retail complex meant to anchor the highlands: The High Streets retail develop- Your news comments welcome! PRESS.0000m PARTNERSHIP COUU) RECHARGE ZHOME The recession did not just stall commercial development in the Issaquah Highlands. When the economy tanked, the high-profile Zero Energy Home, or zHome, project hit the skids, too. But Brad Liljequist, project manager for the zHome effort, said city officials might be ready to announce a partner for the eco-friendly project by the end of the year. Uljequist said the partnership would "get the project mov- ing again." He estimated work would begin at the zHome site, about a block east of the Issaquah Highlands Park & Ride, early next year. The project was originally slated for completion by late 2009. As planned, the zHome would include 10 townhouses designed to produce as much electricity as the units consume. ment, a planned pedestrian- friendly "lifestyle center" with shops and restaurants connected by sidewalks. "We're frustrated, too," Boeker said. "We would like to be further faster." Dr. John Milne, an urban village development commissioner, described The High Streets devel- opment as "fallow" and expressed doubt about the future of the proj- ect. "Who knows when and if that's going to materialize?" he said. Microsoft pulls plug Besides the unrealized retail hub, development of a proposed Marriott hotel has slowed as a result of shaky financing. Milne raised the commercial development issue when the 240- unit residential complex reached the commission last week. Devco, a Bellevue developer, hopes to break ground on the project in late 2010. The proposal returns to the Urban Village Development Commission next week. Milne asked why the Devco par- cel was under consideration for residential development, when the original plan included commercial construction at the site. Milne asked if the residential complex would be a good fit in the area. "As the market has evolved over the last year, year and a half, dif- ferent uses have been more mar- ketable for Port Blakely," Lucy Sloman, a planning consultant with the city Major Development Review Team, said during the Dec. 1 commission meeting. City Major Development Review Team Program Manager Keith Niven said highlands residents "are getting more frustrated by the moment because commercial development slowed. "From a commercial standpoint, it would be tough to say [Po Blakely is] not i)ehinc the curve, Niven said. Disappointment is nothing new for highlands residents and Port Blakely. Microsoft pulled the plug on a proposed 150-acre campus in the highlands. The software giant scaled back plans for the Issaquah campus in 2004, and the land was released for other uses. Meanwhile, city officials seem resigned to the imbalance between commercial and residential develop- ment in the highlands. The residen- tial proposal before the Urban Village Development Commission last week would be built on land once intended for the Microsoft cam- pus. "While I'm not opposed to high- er-density residential units being added to the highlands -- I m not, I think it's great, I think it's a great location -- I am extremely disap- pointed and really, not happy about the fact that we re lookingto do this before any commercial has been put in,' Walker said. Season FIOM PAGE A4 How about visiting a senior citizen who doesn't get visitors at one of the local rehabilita- tion/nursing homes? Purchase an extra food item or two and take it to the food bank. Purchase an extra pet food item to donate to the Humane Society. Bake some cookies and give them to someone, anyone, who is feeling down. Hug someone who looks like they need one. Smile at and/or say hello to people you pass on the street. It'll brighten their day. Volunteer your time at an organization that is doing holi- day work for others. These are just some of the things you can do to help out in this community. I am sure there are many others. Christmas and other spiri- tual holidays should be times of giving. Try to give to those who need it. Kathleen R. Merrill: 392-6434, ext. 227, or editor@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress, com. Public Meetings Dec. 9 Council Utilities Committee 5 p.m., Pickering Room, City Hall Northwest, 1775 12th Ave. N.W. Dec. 10 Cable TV Commission 6 p.m., Coho Room, City Hall 130 E. Sunset Way City Council 2010 budget deliberations 6 p.m., Cougar Room, City Hall 130 E. Sunset Way Dec. 14 Arts Commission 6:30 p.m., Coho Room, City Hall 130 E. Sunset Way Dec. 15 River & Streams Board 7 p.m., Pickering Room, City Hall Northwest, 1775 12th Ave. N.W. Dec. 16 Human Services Commission 6 p.m., Cougar Room, City Hall 130 E. Sunset Way Development Commission 7 p.m., Council Chambers,City Hall South, 135 E. Sunset Way Call the Center to see if you are a good candidate/After careful assessment of your overall health & wellness, and the level of improvement you desire, I will personalize your treatment plan. -Henri P. Gaboriau MD CONSTRUCTIVE 'l.e, 228 22840 NE 8th St., Suite'103* Sammamish, 98074