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BSD parents still trying to re-shape district boundaries

Parents from West TV Elementary make their voices heard on Monday

COURTESY OF THE BEAVERTON SCHOOL DISTRICT - West Tualatin View Elementary School parents were out in force at Mondays meeting at Sunset High School, expressing their strong preference to remain within the Sunset attendance boundaries.It was a sea of purple, red and protest signs at Sunset High School on Monday.

Nearly 400 people gathered to attend the first of five open house meetings, one at each of the Beaverton School District’s comprehensive high schools, to discuss proposed changes to the district’s high school attendance boundaries.

Homemade signs flashed messages such as “We Deserve Transparency” and “Proximity and Transportation at West TV.”

In all, 37 people gave public testimony during the meeting.

Of those, nearly two-thirds were from the West Tualatin View Elementary School community. All 24 speakers from West Tualatin View urged the committee to keep the neighborhood in Sunset’s attendance zone where it currently lies.

Four speakers from a neighborhood currently zoned in Westview’s attendance boundaries — but slated to move to Sunset — also advocated to remain where they are, citing community ties and drawing cheers from supporters in red.

But the audience was most heavily comprised of West TV families, many clad in Sunset High purple. Every time a speaker identified themselves as a West TV community member, supporters stood up and broke into roaring applause.

“I appreciate your passion for your kids and your schools,” said Beaverton School District Superintendent Don Grotting.

The district’s latest proposed boundary map would move the West TV neighborhood into the Beaverton High School attendance zone.

The boundary change process was precipitated by the addition of the district’s sixth comprehensive high school, which will open its doors in fall 2017. The new high school is currently under construction in the South Cooper Mountain area. Boundary changes will go into effect for the 2017-18 school year.

The district plans to vote on a final boundary map in October.

Above all, West TV families voiced concerns about a longer, less accessible commute that crosses Highway 26, which many characterized as a natural boundary.

Last month, the district published a revised boundary map, including exhibits zeroing in on four key areas for potential changes to its own most recent proposal, those changes based on proximity and transportation concerns. COURTESY OF THE BEAVERTON SCHOOL DISTRICT - Students and parents express their opinions about the proposed changes to the Beaverton School Districts high school attendance boundaries during a Monday meeting at Sunset High School.

Parents wondered why West TV wasn’t included along with other areas for re-consideration based on the criteria of proximity and transportation.

Judy Turner, a mother of three who attended the meeting, expressed concerns about accessibility to the high school her children will eventually attend.

“My twin sons ride their bikes to (school),” said Turner. “I would like them to be able to continue doing that in high school.”

Like many parents who shared their frustrations, Turner said she was worried about picking her kids up from extracurricular activities during rush hour.

“If they go to Sunset, they could get home by themselves,” said Turner.

Three speakers during the meeting testified in favor of keeping in mind equity concerns during boundary deliberations, noting that families from lower-income neighborhoods that would be affected by boundary changes are often not able to participate in public meetings.

Grotting, who came to the Beaverton School District from David Douglas School District in Portland — a similarly large, diverse district — said that equity has been a priority through the process.

“How do we bring in all voices?” said Grotting. “That’s something the board wants to do, bring is as many voices as possible to include underrepresented groups.”

West TV families testified that the proposed boundary changes would negatively impact their sense of community.

It was a concern district officials acknowledged.

“It’s hard when we have to redraw boundaries,” said Maureen Wheeler, the district’s public communications officer. “These communities have been together for generations.”

While current high school sophomores and juniors would have the option to remain at the schools they currently attend as per a grandfathering clause, this wouldn’t cover current freshmen — the class of 2020 — who would be required to switch schools if boundaries change in their neighborhood.

Others were frustrated with the process itself, contending that enrollment data and other numbers were inaccurate.

“We will go back and check the facts,” said Grotting. “We’re trying to get the most accurate data up-to-date.

“It’s going to be a difficult decision,” added Grotting. “We’re trying to look at, as well as individual communities, the entire whole of the district, what’s going to be best for all kids.”