Modified Beaverton boundaries still a sore spot

District board meeting set for October 17

A rendering of the new Beaverton High School (Courtesy: Beaverton School District)
A rendering of the new Beaverton High School (Courtesy: Beaverton School District)

BEAVERTON, Ore. (KOIN) — After public comment was held throughout September, the Beaverton School District announced modifications to their new boundaries that “effectively balance the criteria.”

But some parents remain unhappy with the plan to change the boundaries at all and say the district still isn’t listening.

School boundaries in Beaverton have been under discussion since they were first announced in May. A series of 5 public comment sessions, combined with online comments, resulted in the district recommending 2 modifications to the previously announced plan:

  • Reunite the Aloha-Huber Park K-8 attendance area and assign it to the Aloha High School attendance area.
  • Return a portion north of Walker Road to Westview High School. The May plan put that portion of the Elmonica K-5 attendance area to Aloha High School.

The boundary changes in Beaverton have been contentious. Parents previously said the changes would divide communities and some would take students too far from home.

The current and proposed boundaries for Beaverton school districts as seen on their website October 11, 2016
The current and proposed boundaries for Beaverton school districts as seen on their website October 11, 2016

 

The new boundary lines were proposed by former Superintendent Jeff Rose.

“We live in an economically and socially diverse community and we must continue to strive to eliminate the inequalities as well as the inequities in the district,” Superintendent Don Grotting said in a statement on the district website. “As Superintendent I will work to ensure that this is the case in Beaverton through continuous improvement to our education system and educational programs.”

The next Beaverton board meeting is set for October 17.

‘Our kids are uniquely disadvantaged’

District spokesperson Maureen Wheeler said changing district boundaries is “difficult work,” and they know they won’t keep everyone happy.

But it needs to be done as the district is growing. Soon, the district will have 6 high schools which will help “relieve the pressure, particularily on Westview High School and Sunset High School.”

The overall goal, she said, is to relieve the overcrowding in the high schools and provide additional capacity for growth.

Any student who will be a high school junior or senior in September 2017 — when these boundaries take effect — will be grandfathered in to their current school.

“We understand there’s so many factors for families, generations that might have gone through school and unfortunately with a growing school district we do have to make boundary changes from time to time,” Wheeler said. “Hopefully we’re going to do it in a very careful and sensitive way making sure students have great opportunities

Jason Cowart is a parent in the Beaverton School District unhappy with the proposed new school boundaries, October 11, 2016 (KOIN)
Jason Cowart is a parent in the Beaverton School District unhappy with the proposed new school boundaries, October 11, 2016 (KOIN)

But Jason Cowart, the parent of a kindergartner and 2nd-grader, said his kids would have gone to Sunset High School. Under the current proposal, they’ll go to Beaverton High School.

The difference in the commute — 2.87 miles to 4.14 miles — isn’t just the distance, he said. It’s the time, the route, the traffic.

“We remain concerned that the policy governing these changes hasn’t been followed, and in particular that our area and our kids are uniquely disadvantaged by the decision they’re trying to make,” Cowart told KOIN 6 News.

He said the commute will be the longest one in the district, “double what other kids do,” and wonders how district officials can “create the longest commute if you’re paying attention to policy.”

Cowart also believes the growth projections at Sunset High are inflated.

Even though his kids are in elementary school, he’s looking at their future. He think his kids ability to have a great educational experience means having the time to study and take part in extracurricular activities, to be around kids in their own neighborhood.

“They’re going to have to spend a lot more time in the car or on the bus and less time doing after-school activities, studying and just being a kid,” he said.