News

Voting registration deadline approaching

Time is running out for people who recently moved to update their address or register to vote in time to participate in the historical Nov. 4 General Election. The deadline to register to vote online, by mail or change your address is Saturday, Oct. 4.

  • Sep 29, 2008

Keeping our schools safe: School Resource Officers back on patrol in Lake Washington District

School Resource Officers (SROs) are back in the Lake Washington School District this year, one new to the position and the other returning.

Goodman earns traffic safety award

Rep. Roger Goodman, a Democrat who represents Redmond and other communities in Washington's 45th Legislative District, was among three recipients of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) Safety Champions Award, Sept. 23 at the Bellevue Hilton Hotel.

Dead Kirkland crow tests positive for West Nile

King County officials announced Tuesday that a dead crow found in Kirkland on Sept. 15 tested positive for West Nile Virus.

  • Sep 23, 2008

Keys to a solid education: State task force members provide insight on how to ensure bright futures for our children

By MARY STEVENS DECKER Redmond Reporter The goal of Monday night's meeting between the Lake Washington School District (LWSD) Board of Directors and local members of the Governor's Joint Task Force on Basic Education Finance boiled down to what is written in Article 9, Section 2 of the Washington State Constitution: "It is the Paramount Duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders, without distinction or preference on account of race, color, caste or sect." Task Force members Rep. Ross Hunter and Sen. Rodney Tom, Democrats from the 48th Legislative District and Rep. Glenn Anderson, a Republican from the 5th Legislative District, shared thoughts on how the LWSD and all school districts can best manage precious resources to ensure all children a solid K-12 education and preparation for gainful employment. Hundreds of parents, teachers and administrators from the LWSD and neighboring school districts packed the LWSD's L.E. Scarr Resource Center to hear what the legislators have discussed, so far. They emphasized that this is still very much a work in progress. Referring to education issues such as overcrowded classrooms, disappearing electives, poorly-maintained facilities, cuts in after-school transportation and sharing of school nurses or librarians, Anderson commented, "We know what the problems are and what the reasonable alternatives are." "We could do nothing ... fix the existing system ... or take it across the state, across all political parties and regions and give it a foundation for the next 30 years." SEPARATE, BUT EQUAL As Hunter began a slide presentation, he pointed out that rural districts here and in Eastern Washington have different demographics and different needs than the LWSD but in every case, students and parents deserve: • Reasonable Adequacy: "Provide enough resources to educate children." • Transparency: "Be clear about what is purchased and how local districts make spending decisions." • Flexibility: "Allow districts to make decisions in the best interests of their students." • (To) Begin with the End in Mind: "Start with high school graduation requirements and work backwards." Plus, the state must provide multiple pathways to success beyond high school graduation — career readiness or college preparation. To achieve those results, the Task Force seeks to redefine a program of basic education, change teaching, guarantee equity and accountability and phase in new programs and resources in a thoughtful manner. Creating separate models for Primary, Elementary, Middle and High School levels, the Task Force proposes a calculation of teachers needed according to class size, planning/professional development and graduation requirements. The legislators suggested a seven-period class schedule in high school, a reasonable class size of 25 students for most courses and smaller class sizes (perhaps 15 students) for technical education, lab sciences, Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate. More instructional time, such as tutoring or summer school, must be funded for students who start the school year behind their peers. But there must also be enhanced learning opportunities for gifted students. There'd be explicit assumptions for other building level instructional and administrative staff, such as principals, librarians, nurses, counselors and instructional coaches. There would also be allocations for non-instructional staff including teacher's aides, secretaries, student safety monitors and custodians and of course, non-staff costs, ranging from instructional technology to heating of facilities. "If we don't plan, we end up taking money out of programs," Hunter stated. GIVING TEACHERS THEIR DUE "Changes in teaching effectiveness are the most leveraged investments we can make," said Hunter. And there is significant evidence that hiring nationally board-certified teachers ensures a model where all teachers can benefit, he added. The Task Force members believe that starting wages for teachers must be set at a competitive level, compensation should increase as teachers demonstrate added competence and that teachers should be recognized as they attain certification at various levels. Teachers who accept additional responsibilities such as mentoring should be rewarded and there must be cost-of-living adjustments based on where they are employed. But also, said Hunter, the plan should include ways for current teachers to "phase in" to new systems based on certification. EQUITY AND TRANSPARENCY "The Legislature shall provide a general and uniform system of public schools," Hunter continued. To remove long-standing inequities, especially for low-income and ELL students, the Task Force members would propose the elimination of "grandfathering" for teacher salaries and phase in a 30 percent levy lid (currently, LWSD's levy lid is at 24 percent). They also would improve data collection with a state-provided information system and enhance ability to link data to students as they move from school to school. Kids who move frequently — for example, foster children — and are not placed in the right classes each time, lose ground and are more likely to drop out of school, said Hunter. WHERE'S THE MONEY? The Task Force members spoke of phasing in new resources over six years and one educational feature at a time. A significant portion of the growth would be funded by taking a larger share of the natural growth of the state budget — and in time, return to spending 50 percent of the general fund on K-12 education. Answering questions from LWSD board members, the LWSD PTSA Council and members of the general audience, Tom, Anderson and Hunter acknowledged that not everyone will see the value of what they're proposing. People are protective of their money and their personal circumstances. "When you come down to Olympia, we have a lot of great causes ... heartbreaking stories of why their issue should be funded," said Tom. Anderson agreed, "We are selling change in an environment of bad news." However, Tom urged, "Instead of looking at drop-out rates, look at successes. ...Everyone in this room needs to be personally involved." He said that chain e-mails to legislators are not effective, but old-fashioned telephone calls, handwritten notes or personalized e-mails have impact. Most of all, Tom concluded, "We need to make this a bipartisan process — education should never be a partisan issue." For additional information about the Basic Education Finance Joint Task Force, visit http://www.leg.wa.gov/Joint/Committees/BEF/. To learn about Funding Washington Schools, a resource developed by PTA advocates, visit www.fundingwaschools.org.

Gregoire, officials, commuters tout success of 202 improvements

A flock of geese flew overhead during the a ceremony to officially recognize the completion of a $96 million project on State Route 202, as if to emphasize the 16-acre wetland included in the package.

  • Sep 23, 2008

Reichert votes in favor of transportation funding

Congressman Dave Reichert recently voted in favor of transportation legislation to boost the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) by $8 billion and bring much-needed funding to bridges and transportation infrastructure across the country.

  • Sep 23, 2008

Poll shows Washington voters favor Obama for president, Rossi for governor

Strategic Vision, LLC, an Atlanta-headquartered public relations and public affairs agency, announced the results of a three-day poll of 800 likely voters in Washington.

  • Sep 22, 2008

Liberals need to ease up on Palin | John Carlson

I understand why some people oppose John McCain’s running mate, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, and why they disagree with her.

Wasilla wonder

I guess Sarah Palin is trying to steal my thunder.

Gregoire begins bid for re-election

Gov. Christine Gregoire launched her reelection campaign Monday in Auburn’s Rainbow Café, a few feet from where she once sat after school while her single mother cooked flapjacks and flipped burgers.

  • Sep 22, 2008

Rossi: No tolls until new bridge is built

GOP gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi would push for an eight-lane bridge across Lake Washington, not impose tolls until the bridge is completed and add lanes to I-405 between Bellevue and Renton.

  • Sep 22, 2008

Reichert helps provide solutions to energy crisis

Congressman Dave Reichert (WA-08) passed a bipartisan amendment on Wednesday out of the House Committee on Science and Technology that advances the development of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, a critical alternative energy source for the Pacific Northwest.

  • Sep 22, 2008

Burner moves on with life after fire destroyed her Ames Lake home

Darcy Burner is back in the driver’s seat — moving on with her life and her Democratic campaign for Congress, after a July 1 fire destroyed her home near Ames Lake and almost all of her family’s possessions.

Gregoire: State economy remains resilient

Between running for re-election and planning for her daughter’s upcoming wedding, Gov. Christine Gregoire has her work cut out for her.

  • Sep 22, 2008

Nixon, Springer earn outstanding ratings from Municipal League

Toby Nixon and Lawrence Springer, 45th Legislative District candidates, have received the only “Outstanding” rating from The Municipal League of King County for races in the Redmond area.

  • Sep 22, 2008

Youth Eastside Services to celebrate new central office

Youth Eastside Services (YES) will officially open the doors to its new central headquarters Friday, Sept. 26, with a Celebration of Kids and Families, featuring tours, games, music, juggling, magician performances, life-sized puppets, refreshments and more.

  • Sep 22, 2008

Students cultivate a garden of hope

Sometimes multitasking is a terrible idea — for instance, text-messaging while driving a car.

Harvest Celebration coming this weekend

Farrel-McWhirter Farm Park, 19545 Redmond Rd., is participating in this year’s 10th Annual Harvest Celebration on Saturday, Sept. 27 from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

  • Sep 22, 2008

Paving to close down intersection of Union Hill and Avondale Roads

The intersection of Union Hill and Avondale Roads (at the end of SR 520) will effectively close for two weekends in order for construction crews to lay concrete paving as part of the city’s Union Hill Road Widening project.

  • Sep 22, 2008