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Masses of parents speak minds to boundary committee

TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Parents look over the latest proposal to shift high school boundaries across the Beaverton School District during a Jan. 21 open house at Five Oaks Middle School.Beaverton School District parents caused some school overcrowding themselves Thursday night as they packed Five Oaks Middle School, eager to learn more and express opinions about a preliminary plan to rewrite high school attendance boundaries.

Parents chatted with members of the district’s Boundary Advisory Committee and filled out comment cards by the hundreds during the two-hour open house.

The event, well publicized by the district, was the first good opportunity for committee members to listen and speak directly with parents.

Some of the schools are likely to undergo massive shifts in the areas they serve, so members heard plenty from parents anxious about the preliminary proposals that would divide them from their longtime school communities and perhaps send kids down busier roads to more distant campuses.

Under a current draft plan, the largest changes would affect the three schools bordering the eastern edge of the district: Sunset High in the north, Beaverton High in the middle and Southridge High in the south would all see roughly half their current territory transferred to other schools.

Aloha and Westview also would undergo significant boundary changes but ones that wouldn’t affect quite as large of a proportion of their current student bodies.

Current Sunset parents caught up in potential boundary changes have been vocal, appearing en masse as committees clad in purple, engaging the media and staging a roadside rally with their kids, as reported previously.

But many current Beaverton parents also are anxious about the drastic changes in the community that school would serve, likely shifting its attendance area from one that largely serves neighborhoods to the south of the school to one that moves mostly to its north side, stretching beyond Sunset Highway.

TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Kathy Drangstveit said her son is 'so disappointed' that he would have to transition from Beaverton High to Southridge High in 2017 if a current boundary proposal is adopted.Scott Reames, president of the Beaverton Booster Club, said the current proposed boundaries cut out many of the most active parent families who have helped lead a revival at Beaverton High and instead would send their kids to Southridge or the new school beginning in 2017.

“Unfortunately, there are a disproportionate number of involved parents who are now slated to move to new schools,” Reames said. “That’s something that just can’t be replaced overnight.”

As an example, under the latest map version he understands that none of his nine current board members would live inside the attendance boundaries. Eight would shift to Southridge or the new school, and the ninth is a Beaverton alum who lives near Westview. He said such a boundary shift would have similar effect on the inter-tied parents leading the Beaverton High School Success Fund.

Reames called the changes “disheartening” for many families but also said school leaders would embrace new students and parents and rebuild involvement.

Kathy Drangstveit is one of those disheartened parents. Her son is currently a freshman at Beaverton High and looking forward to taking part in the school’s new engineering pathway, but their home near Southwest Garden Home Road currently is drawn into Southridge’s attendance area.

“That is the career path he want to go (down),” she said, adding that many of her son’s friends will remain at Beaverton High. “He’s so disappointed.”

Committee members, including two parents and a principal from each existing high school, weren’t planning to draw new lines between six large high schools’ attendance areas at this session.

One of those high schools is the new campus now under construction in the South Cooper Mountain area, which in preliminary plans will draw students from parts of current attendance boundaries feeding into Southridge, Beaverton and Aloha high schools.

With the new capacity in the far southwest corner of the district, boundaries will shift northward to help alleviate overcrowding, which is especially pressing at Sunset and Westview high schools in fast-growing areas north of Highway 26.

Lines potentially could shift again on Feb. 2, when the committee reconvenes for a work session at the district’s administrative offices and takes a closer look at the public comments. Members also will attempt to resolve an unassigned area near the center of the district’s latest learning map.

TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Dick Withycombe, hired by the Beaverton School District to facilitate boundary changes, discusses the process with parents and other visitors during the open house.“These comments and concerns that are raised will be a significant part of the discussion,” Dick Withycombe, the district’s hired facilitator, told the crowd Thursday.

Additional rewrites are possible following a Feb. 16 public hearing back at Five Oaks and will continue to be preliminary until the process concludes in late March, Withycombe said. (The public hearing was originally planned for Feb. 18 but moved due to a scheduling issue.)

The Boundary Advisory Committee also is charged with helping families work through transitions to new schools.

Chris Miller is among many parents concerned that their younger teens, like his current freshman, will suddenly be uprooted to a new school in 2017.

He stood at the side of the Five Oaks commons area holding a sign that read: “NO FALSE STARTS. Let Students Finish High School Where They Started.”

“In my mind that makes them short-timers at one school and outsiders at another school,” he said. “Moving kids is not good for their education.”

Jon Franco, a committee member as principal at Westview High School, also has heard concerns about transitioning to another school from students’ parents who live east of Northwest Bethany Boulevard and would shift to Sunset’s boundaries under the current set of preliminary boundaries. He has heard the same issues for Elmonica-area families currently slated to move into Aloha High’s boundary.

Franco’s counterpart at Southridge High, Todd Corsetti, said he has heard fewer concerns from his parents because, being the closest school to the new campus to their southwest, it has been clear since voters passed the $680 million construction bond in 2014 that the only option was that their attendance area would move substantially northward.

“They’ve had time to adjust or adapt,” Corsetti said.

However, Southridge’s student body will undergo of the most dramatic shifts in terms of demographics, going from one of the whitest and wealthiest schools in the district to serving larger populations of low-income and Hispanic students.

“I don’t think it’s a bad thing,” Corsetti said. “It’s going to entail us as a staff understanding our new students coming to us.”

TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Beaverton School District Deputy Superintendent Carl Mead (center) talks about proposed attendance areas with a small group of people during the open house.

By Eric Apalategui
Beaverton Reporter
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