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Saturday, September 2, 2006 - Page updated at 12:51 AM

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Eastside students return to new rules, lunch choices, more

Seattle Times Eastside bureau

As students head back to the classroom this week, here's a look at some of the new school programs, policies and projects happening in Eastside school districts this year.

Bellevue School District

• Interlake High School will start its new gifted program this fall, with students able to take International Baccalaureate classes in their freshman and sophomore years. The High School GATE Program at Interlake is an expansion of the district's previous K-8 gifted program. It's currently offered to freshman only, but the district hopes it will expand to include all class levels. About 50 students are enrolled.

• Eighth-graders at all middle schools will be able to take physics as part of their integrated science classes.

• The district and Bellevue Community College will offer a college-prep class for high-school students. The College is an Option class is held Wednesday afternoons when there are early dismissals. In the five-week program, students can earn one college credit as they learn how to prepare for college and apply to schools. The class will be held from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Oct. 18 until Nov. 15 at the community college.

Issaquah

• The district will undergo a comprehensive review of its school boundaries in conjunction with a districtwide demographic study to see how projected future enrollment will affect schools.

• The district is conducting a search for a new superintendent to succeed Janet Barry, who plans to retire at the end of the school year.

• Parents can expect to get more e-mails this year as the district focuses on online resources to communicate with families.

• A new athletic code for high-school athletes caught with drugs or alcohol allows more leniency for a first offense, but it is stricter than the previous policy for a second offense.

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• High-school curriculum will be reviewed to ensure that what students are learning is relevant to their post-high-school plans, such as college or technical schools.

• Construction will begin on a new middle school in the Sammamish Plateau area. The school is scheduled to open by 2008.

Lake Washington

• The school district's newest Choice school, Renaissance School of Art and Reasoning, is opening at Eastlake High School this year. This school-within-a-school will focus on critical thinking and artistic development. It will start with seventh-graders this year, add eighth-graders next year and ninth-graders the following year.

• Over the summer, interactive white boards were installed in every elementary-school classroom in the district. Secondary schools will get the high-tech white boards in the fall. The boards, which are linked to a computer and a document camera, allow teachers to download information from the Web and let students manipulate letters, numbers, graphs and formulas by touching the screen.

• The district is implementing a stricter nutrition policy. Some schools will see new yogurt-based smoothie bars, and all schools will have healthier selections in vending machines and snack bars and more veggies and fruits included in school lunches.

• Construction on a new elementary school in the Sammamish Plateau area will start in the spring and it is scheduled to open in 2008.

Mercer Island

• A gifted program for elementary-school children that began three years ago will now include sixth-grade students at Islander Middle School.

Northshore

• Bothell High School is in the midst of a schoolwide remodel. More than half the classrooms, the library and the administrative offices will be under construction this year. The work is scheduled to be completed in fall 2008.

• A new automated calling system will be operating at all schools by January. The system will be used to alert parents when students miss school and to remind families of school events. In an emergency, the system can automatically call every parent's phone number on file, letting the parent know such things as what procedures to follow in picking up students.

• A new program at Inglemoor High School will help sophomores struggling with math, science and English receive more individual instruction and personal attention.

• All elementary-school students will have the choice of five different fruits and vegetables as part a new salad bar offered during school lunch.

Riverview

• Voters will be asked to approve a bond next February to modernize schools districtwide. Projects would include upgrading school wiring and infrastructure to handle new technology and more energy-efficient heating and cooling systems.

• A new strategic plan will focus the district's resources on improving student performance and achievement.

• The district is installing new computers and other equipment that it purchased with the technology levy voters approved in February. There is now a 3-to-1 student-to-computer ratio in Riverview's schools.

Snoqualmie Valley

• Construction will begin this year on the district's third middle school. It's scheduled to open in 2008.

• On Sept. 14, the school board will receive a prioritized list of proposed new schools that are recommended to be constructed in the next two to four years. The list was compiled by the Facilities Task Force, a group of community representatives, which looked at where new schools are needed to keep up with increasing student enrollment.

• This is the first year of a four-year plan to increase the level of technology available to students and staff. Many classrooms have new document cameras and interactive white boards.

• After a successful first year of early-release Fridays, the district will continue the program this year to give teachers time to plan and work together to improve their skills. All students will be released two hours early every Friday.

Rachel Tuinstra: 206-515-5637 or rtuinstra@seattletimes.com

Staff reporter Anne Kim contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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