Superintendent's Message

Dr. Gary Plano

August 23, 2016 

Dear Mercer Island Schools families,

Welcome to the 2016-17 school year! We are looking forward to welcoming our students on Wednesday, August 31. I hope you and your families are having a wonderful summer. We have been extremely busy throughout the district getting ready to open all schools, especially Northwood Elementary and the new addition at Islander Middle School.

This is an historic 75th anniversary for our school district! We were incorporated as King County School District #400 in 1941. As another milestone, we are opening our first brand new school, Northwood Elementary, in over 50 years! The school is a beautiful environment for learning and teaching.

The new commons, gymnasiums and classroom wing at Islander Middle School are nearing completion and a dedication and open house is being planned for Saturday, October 1 from 9 to 11:30 a.m. We hope our entire community will join us that day.

Save the Date for a Special Event for New Families

To those who are new to the district, we are glad to have you join us, and we welcome you to our school communities!
We will be holding a community event for families new to Mercer Island schools on Wednesday, October 5, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Northwood Elementary in the Commons. A light dinner will be provided, and we hope you come and learn more about us and get introduced to many of our community-based organizations that will be present.

Elementary Spanish-language program

A new Spanish language program will begin this fall and will be a great enhancement to the K-5 curriculum. We are looking forward to teaching this world language to all K-5 elementary students.

Later start for HS on Wednesdays

MIHS will start at 8:45 a.m. on Wednesdays only beginning September 7 and the instructional day will end at 2:50 p.m. on that day only. The high school schedule for the remaining days of the week (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday) will remain at an 8 a.m. start and a 3 p.m. end to the instructional day.

Elementary Bell Times

The instructional day will begin at 9:15 a.m. (five minutes later than present) and end at 3:45 p.m. Ten minutes were added to the instructional day as the district needed to accommodate the new Spanish-language program.

Stop Arm Cameras installed on selected buses

Every school day in the United States, more than 70,000 motorists illegally pass school buses as they stop to let students on and off. This behavior endangers the lives of children.

Our district has partnered with Mercer Island Police and American Traffic Solutions to address this issue by adopting new technology to help drivers keep our children safe. Selected school buses in Mercer Island will now feature a stop arm safety camera. When the stop arm is deployed, the camera automatically detects a vehicle illegally passing the stop arm in either direction and captures video of the violation, including still images of a vehicle‘s license plate. The violation video and license plate images are reviewed and approved by the Mercer Island Police prior to a citation being issued.
Connect with us on social media

Keep in touch with us daily on Facebook at, follow us on Twitter @mercerislandsd and look for our posts on Nextdoor Mercer Island. We hope you will share your first day of school photos on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #MIFirstDay.

This represents my tenth school year as your superintendent, and I am incredibly proud to work together with you to deliver a world-class public education to the students in our Island community.

Gary Plano, Ed. D.