Third revision works for School Board policy

By Mary L. Grady

The Mercer Island School Board approved the last of its major governance policies at its, March 24 meeting.

The board voted unanimously in favor of the heavily revised policy, E-2, that describes what knowledge and skills students should have by the time of high school graduation. The policy lists those skills, including critical thinking, application and evaluation techniques, to be gained or taught within the context of the subjects offered at school.

The governance policies direct everything from duties of the superintendent and board members to defining conflict of interest and codes of conduct.

Earlier, some community members expressed concern that fine arts programs were being given a lower standing or rank within a list of school subjects. Due to uncertainty surrounding school funding, the order of subjects was seen by some as a potential way to allocate shrinking funds.

The board voted March 10 to table a vote on the E2 policy until another community listening session could be held. The board, citing their Mutual Respect and Shared Commitment policy, decided that even if another public meeting did not change the list or the policy, another effort should be made to hear what the community had to say.

The board did hold a listening session March 16, but less than 10 community members came to discuss their concerns. However, Board members and the superintendent had received many e-mails and phone calls about the policy.

The policy continued to change and morph up until the vote at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday. The board wanted to ensure all were heard.

``The time we worked on this (policy) was time well spent,'' said board member John Fry.

The policy, which had bogged down over the order of subjects on a list, was lengthened and rearranged to place emphasis on where it counted, board members said. A section on high expectations for all students was placed on top.

``Letting kids know we expect a lot and believe they can do it, is a powerful motivator,'' board member Carrie George said.

Community member Frank Morrison thanked the board for their ``commitment to the strongest statement of what we really want our kids to learn that I have ever seen.''

Of the extra time to finalize the policy, board president, Pat Braman said, ``we want to hear and understand what citizens have to say.''

``Hip hip hooray,'' she said when new policy passed unanimously.

The approval of E-2 marks the end of the initial phase of implementing the new way the board will govern the district. A grant from The Boeing Co. and paid for some of the process.

A copy of the Ends Policy, E-2, Academic Achievement can be seen on the school district Web site at

North Mercer project

The School Board has delayed the vote on the plans for the North Mercer Project.

The school district has been unable to schedule all of the necessary reviews and meetings in time for the original decision date of April 21. The vote will be rescheduled.

The plans call for the construction of a multi-use facility with classrooms and gym space to be used and funded jointly with the Boys & Girls Club.

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