Superintendent's Message

December 2014

It has been a busy and productive fall for the Mercer Island School District. The recently formed Boundary Committee is reviewing Dr. Gary Plano options for new elementary school boundaries for the four elementary schools to determine which neighborhoods attend each school beginning the fall of 2016. The Boundary Committee will host a public preview with their preliminary recommendation on Dec. 10, from 5:30 - 7:00 p.m., in the Islander Middle School library. I am hoping for a robust turnout at this public preview prior to the formal public hearing early next year.

I have formed a high school start time committee to study the potential benefits and implications of moving our high school start time to later. The High School Start-Time Committee will meet over the next several months and has engaged in a collaborative process with the Bellevue School District, as they have expressed a similar interest. Research suggests that high school students are not getting the sleep they need to be as effective as they can be in class. This could be one way to improve student learning by improving student health. This committee will review research on the topic so we can discuss the feasibility of any changes in an evidence-based manner.

I am in the initial stages of meeting with our elementary teachers and our secondary world language teachers to study the feasibility and costs of including a world language program K-5, at some point in the future. The research is clear that students learn a second language best if they can begin learning the language in elementary school.

I am happy to say that all three of our 2014 bond projects are underway and that we remain on time and on budget. Weekly construction updates are available on the district webpage until all three projects are complete.

Finally, THANK YOU for all of your support of the 2014 Phone-A-Thon. The Mercer Island Schools Foundation is more than two-thirds of the way to their fall fundraising goal of $445,300 to support exciting new, relevant classroom curriculum and materials, enrichment opportunities, and programs for all students that are considered essential to enable personalized learning, as well as to support talented and dedicated staff. Donations will continue to be accepted through Dec. 31. Thank you for making an investment for Mercer Island students and our public schools.

Best regards,

Gary Plano, Ed. D.
Superintendent