Eyes on Issaquah for school answers
The Issaquah School District ruled in favor of kids by deciding to continue a campus for ninth-graders despite pressures to relieve overcrowding districtwide.
The Pacific Cascade Freshman Campus looked tempting, perched spaciously on a forested hill overlooking a district desperate for more space. But the school ought not be opened to other grades. When something works, leave it alone.
The Issaquah School Board voted instead to build a new middle school. This is the right investment.
At a time when public schools are struggling, Pacific Cascade is succeeding. Grade-point averages are up among the 900 freshmen; disciplinary rates are low. These things are nothing to take for granted; they keep parents invested in the public schools.
If Issaquah can hold on to its freshman campus, it ought to.
Students on the cusp of high school are awkward sorts, often feeling out kilter or infused with conflict. High school, with its social and college-related pressures, can be a tough transition. Research has shown that the end of middle school is a critical year in which students are more likely to disengage from school. The following year, in ninth grade, many find high school intimidating and drop out.
Pacific Cascade has been able to provide a delicate balance of discipline, high academic standards and close intervention.
These are things for Issaquah to consider.
The district must also grapple with a 2- to 3-percent increase in student enrollment across all grades. While the freshman campus was created to alleviate overcrowding, it has turned into an academic success, an even better reason to keep it open.
District leaders are still left with a population on the rise, but they can handle this with a smart mix of long-range demographic planning and an eye on what works best for students.
Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company