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Beaverton School Board poised to approve land swap

Deal would send all future South Cooper Mountain children to Beaverton schools

TIMES PHOTO: ERIC APALATEGUI - Beaverton Superintendent Jeff Rose posed with some of the construction vehicles that were present at the ceremonial groundbreaking for the districts new high school at South Cooper Mountain back in early October.The Beaverton School Board appears likely to approve a deal that would swap large tracts of land with the Hillsboro School District.

None of the seven board members expressed concerns Monday night while reviewing a proposed resolution that will come back to them for a vote in December.

The Hillsboro School Board initiated the land swap discussion, and while the concept was initially controversial there, a majority of its members also appear ready to sign off on the deal that brings more students closer to where new schools are planned in both districts.

Assuming the school boards approve the resolution next month, the Washington County Board of Commissioners would then have the final vote to ratify the boundary shifts in the South Cooper Mountain and South Hillsboro neighborhoods.

“It is an irregular process,” Beaverton Superintendent Jeff Rose told his board. “We’ve had to chart our own way.”

The deal calls for the Hillsboro district to turn over about 240 acres of territory in the South Cooper Mountain area north of Southwest Scholls Ferry Road, the site where the Beaverton School District’s new high school is already under construction.

In return, the Beaverton district would transfer about 156 acres of its territory in the South Hillsboro area to its neighboring district. That land is west of Southwest 209th Avenue and north of Farmington Road.

Both areas are plotted for massive residential development in the coming years but are lightly populated now. After the neighborhoods are built out, the land swap is expected to bring about 200 additional students to Beaverton schools.

The Beaverton district already has $3 million of its current bond available to buy land for an elementary school in the South Cooper Mountain area. That school would be built with or without a land swap, officials said.

School-age students in the affected areas — all but one are near 209th — would be grandfathered in to allow them to choose which district they attend, assuming the districts can shepherd through a minor tweak to state law when the Oregon Legislature meets this winter or find another solution.

Once the grandfather clause was worked out, along with a pledge to work out transportation for affected students, the concern from a handful of neighbors largely disappeared, according to Beaverton district officials.

Beaverton’s mayor and council members submitted a letter supporting the land exchange. City officials don’t have a say in this decision but have long wanted all of the newly incorporated areas of South Cooper Mountain to be served by a single school system.

According to the language in the proposed resolution, the land swap:

— Would positively impact the safety and welfare of all students.

— Maintains continuity with existing and developing neighborhoods and cities.

— Creates a more efficient expenditure of overall public resources.

— Is one that each district’s existing and planned facilities can accommodate.

— Is largely supported by most community members and leaders.

— Complements broader regional and local growth and development plans, including existing and projected adjustments to the Urban Growth Boundary and city service plans for undeveloped areas.

— Is supported by sufficient information to make a decision.

Pamplin Media Group reporter Kathy Fuller contributed to this story