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AUGUST 25, 1997

Front Page

Library shelves at Timbercrest Junior High had yet to be stocked last week as Northshore School District prepared for classes this week.
   Andrew Walgamott/staff photo

Northshore ready to open doors for classes

  Timbercrest opening; testing for fourth graders
   by Andrew Walgamott
   NORTHSHORE--If the spate of back-to-school commercials hasn't alerted you already, Northshore School District will commence classes September 2.
   Beginning next Tuesday more than 19,000 students from kindergartners through high school seniors will fill the hallways of Northshore's 20 elementaries, six junior highs and four high schools.
   Greeting them will be more than 2,400 teachers, secretaries, principals, chefs, janitors and others as the 1997-1998 school year kicks off.
   Many students will come back to improved schools after summer-long construction projects including a brand-new junior high, as well as new athletic fields, expanded computer systems and additional library books.
   District population is growing as well. Enrollment is up from last year, but only by .75 percent or 157 new students, according to Dr. Pamela Steele, district communications director. The past two years had seen 1.5 to 2 percent increases in student population.
   Steele said most growth in the district was being experienced at Kokanee and East Ridge elementaries.
   Locker-less junior high almost completed
   Final site work at Timbercrest Junior High, Northshore's newest, is ongoing and should be completed by the first day of school, according to principal Larry Little.
   "The building is there and ready," Little said.
   Northshore's sixth junior high, located at 19115 215th Way N.E. east of Paradise Lake Road, will accommodate as many as 840 students drawn from East Ridge, Cottage Lake and Bear Creek Elementaries. Little says he has 740 students on the books for the coming school year.
   All students will graduate to Woodinville High School.
   The $15 million, 105,000 square-foot building complex incorporates "pod" style classrooms for integrated teaching/learning programs for each grade level.
   Teams of 120-130 students will rotate between four instructors centering on core subjects such as math, language arts, science and history. Twice a day kids take electives and P.E. Little said across the country, "teaming" students with integrated teacher lessons was producing a more holistic education.
   Also, the school will be Northshore's first locker-less junior high. According to Little, going locker-less at this level is a growing trend. Students will carry their notebooks, lunches and gym clothes in backpacks. They will be issued one textbook for home use and another will be available in the classroom.
   Ninth graders will be called freshmen as well. Little said in a few years interpretive trails would be built around the 34 acre school which is surrounded by woods overlooking the upper Bear Creek valley. He also vowed students would be involved in community service projects.
   "It's more of a small school type feel and that's what we're trying to accomplish," he said. Little, who's been a vice principal at Franklin Pierce High School in Tacoma for the past ten years, says he's in awe of parent and community involvement in Northshore schools.
   "These folks are a tremendous asset...It's going to be a challenge to put them all to work," Little said.
   Other district capital projects this year include new athletic fields and added classrooms at Bothell High, $8.6 million in renovations at Inglemoor High, $4.2 million in modernization's to Leota Junior High and $2.9 million in improvements to Kenmore Junior High. Other schools are also receiving needed expansions and improvements.
   The district is spending $3.93 million on workstations and 1750 new classroom computers as well. When completed, the district hopes to have two workstations with Internet access in all classrooms.
   Fourth-grade testing
   As a result of a recent state education reform act, fourth grade students will be tested via the Criterion Reference Tests, measuring kids against standards rather than each other.
   "The tests will reflect things kids need to know to be successful in the 21st Century," Steele said.
   Last year, the district participated in similar voluntary testing.
   "It is anticipated many of our kids won't meet standards the first time around," Steele said, adding the belief, "expect more, get more."
   In testing, fourth graders will need to apply their knowledge and show steps taken to solve problems.
   Results of the new test will help the district focus on future curriculum, according to Steele.
   Quick facts
   Northshore gathers students from a 60 square-mile area, from Lake Forest Park to the Snoqualmie Valley and near Mill Creek south to Juanita and Redmond.
   Student to teacher ratios have increased slightly the past two years, from 23 to 24 students per teacher K-3 between 1995 and 1996, 26 to 27 for 4-6. Junior and senior high schools remained steady at 29 and 27 students per teacher both years.
   Daily attendance has increased the past two years, from 95.3 percent in 1995 to 97.1 percent in 1996. Competition for jobs opening in the district is fierce. Over 4,000 job applications are received a year yet turnover is low, only 7.67 percent in the teaching staff and 4.6 percent among non-teaching staff.
   Northshore reports they graduate 99 percent of students in their class, according to 1995 statistics. The district also has one of the lowest dropout rates (2.1 percent ) in the state. Must be the food.
   According to district figures, it costs $33.44 to educate one child per day, costs breaking down as $21.77 for teaching activities, $2.81 for teaching support, $2.93 for building operations, $.86 for food service and $1.21 for transportation among others.