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Beaverton, Hillsboro school districts OK territory swap

South Cooper Mountain would be served entirely by Beaverton schools

TIMES PHOTO: MILES VANCE - A new high school is under construction off Southwest 175th Avenue. Students moving into future neighborhoods to the west of the school site would be able to attend the school with a pending territory swap between the Beaverton and Hillsboro school districts.The Beaverton School Board on Monday has nearly sealed a deal to swap territories it serves with the neighboring Hillsboro School District.

With the 6-1 vote in Beaverton, following a similar outcome at a Hillsboro School Board meeting last week, the decision to redraw district boundaries now heads to the Washington County Board of Commissioners for final approval.

The agreement would unify all of Beaverton’s South Cooper Mountain within the Beaverton district, while an area known as South Hillsboro — located west of Southwest 209th Avenue — will soon shift over to the Hillsboro district.

Beaverton board member LeeAnn Larsen cast the lone vote against the plan after speaking with some land owners near 209th who told her they bought property there in part because it was inside the Beaverton School District.

“They seem to have pride and roots and ... sense of community,” Larsen said. “This is a big issue to them.”

Fellow board member Donna Tyner, who represents the area near 209th, also expressed concern for those property owners but voted in favor of the swap.

Rob Basham is father to a few of the two dozen affected students living west of 209th; he participated in an earlier informational meeting about the proposal.

A day after the board’s vote, he said he is satisfied because the districts have pledged to find a way to allow current students the choice of remaining in their original district.

“I’m inclined to not get in the way of progress,” he said. “It makes sense to me (that) if you’re going to do it, do it now before you build this place (South Hillsboro) out.”

Basham said his children are likely to remain in the Beaverton School District with their friends, but they also face another layer of uncertainty as the Beaverton district redraws internal attendance boundaries ahead of September 2017, when the high school in South Cooper Mountain and an elementary school in North Bethany will open to help relieve overcrowding.

Both South Cooper Mountain and South Hillsboro — which have historically been lightly populated farming areas — are expected to accommodate many thousands of new residents in their respective cities.TIMES PHOTO: MILES VANCE - Construction is continuing at the Beaverton School Districts newest high school in South Cooper Mountain. After a boundary change, the school will serve students who previously would have been bused into Hillsboro.

The area in South Cooper Mountain affected by the school boards’ decision is 240 acres located immediately west of the new high school that’s currently under construction at the intersection of Southwest Scholls Ferry Road and 175th Avenue. The South Hillsboro land shifting into the Hillsboro district is 156 acres west of 209th and north of Southwest Farmington Road.

Hillsboro School Board members originally proposed redrawing the boundary as they considered future school sites in the South Hillsboro area but had no such plans in South Cooper Mountain, which is miles removed from most of their district’s population.

Their board approved the deal on Dec. 8 with a 5-2 vote.

Marc San Soucie, a member of the Beaverton City Council that previously approved plans for the South Cooper Mountain area, has no vote in school district boundary decisions but encouraged the school board to pass the deal.

“School is a huge part of community,” he said.