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Several schools will see enrollment shifts

The boundary change impacts one neighborhood immediately north of Bull Mountain Road and south of Gaarde Street  Although the students may live a stone's throw from Alberta Rider, they will now attend Mary Woodward Elementary SchoolChanges are coming to a handful of Tigard-Tualatin elementary schools this fall, and it has some students traveling miles from their homes on Bull Mountain to attend school in north Tigard.

The Tigard-Tualatin School Board on Monday unanimously approved a plan that would change the boundaries of Mary Woodward, Alberta Rider, Tualatin and Edward Byrom elementary schools.

“These are schools that will continue to grow and will have more students than classroom space,” said district spokeswoman Susan Stark Haydon.

The changes affect a single apartment complex in the Tualatin Elementary School boundary. New students living at Todd Village apartments, 8325 S.W. Mohawk St., off Southwest Martinazzi Street, will attend Byrom Elementary School starting in the fall, instead of Tualatin Elementary School.

The larger change comes on Bull Mountain, where students who live across the street from Alberta Rider Elementary School will be bused 2.5 miles to Mary Woodward Elementary School near Summer Lake Park.

Mary Woodward and Byrom have seen shrinking enrollment numbers for years, Stark Haydon said, and the change should increase enrollment at those schools while decreasing the number of students at Alberta Rider and Tualatin, which are expected to exceed capacity in the next few years.

“We would end up with a situation with 700 kids at Alberta Rider and closing Mary Woodward due to lack of students,” said school board member Bob Smith at Monday’s meeting.

Current students grandfathered in

Students currently enrolled in the schools will have the option to remain, as will students with older siblings enrolled in those schools.

Alberta Rider’s growing population is due to new construction in the area. That, in addition to a new statewide law that makes full-day kindergarten available for free in 2015, will see the 6-year-old school overflowing with students.

Meanwhile, Mary Woodward Elementary School has seen dwindling enrollment numbers for years. School Principal Jerry Nihill said the community has aged-in-place, leaving less and less room for new families to move into the area.

“Mary Woodward was packed back in the day,” Nihill said. “But what has happened is that as the economy fell off the cliff, more and more people were not selling their houses and were staying put. The kids aged through the grades, and we didn’t have as many new people moving in.”

Mary Woodward is the smallest school in the district by enrollment —this year enrolling only 425 students.

Alberta Rider Elementary, by contrast, enrolls 610, according to Principal Laura Kintz.

Nihill said that as fewer students enroll at the school — it is expected to be down to 400 students by 2015 — Mary Woodward Elementary will face more budget cuts than other schools.

“The less kids we have, the more staff we lose,” Nihill said. “We were hit with a double whammy. We lost staff due to district budget cuts and because of losing kids.”

‘Part of school community’

With current students allowed to remain at Alberta Rider and Tualatin, the new boundary changes aren’t expected to bring in many students in the first few years.

Stark Haydon said that between 30 and 45 students will move to Mary Woodward next year. Over the next few years, the school is expected to receive as many as 75 to 115 students from the new area.

At Village Apartments, less than 20 students will move to Byrom next year, with as many as 51 students moving over the next several years.

“We love all our families and have built relationships with them. They are part of our school community,” Kintz said. “But it’s something that we know needs to happen.”

Although the neighborhood is much closer to Alberta Rider than Mary Woodward, the small area was the perfect choice because it is located within the Tigard High School boundary, Stark Haydon said. That means students living in that area would attend a different elementary and middle school while later attending the same high school.

“We don’t have a choice,” Stark Haydon said. “We are going to have more than 700 kids at Alberta Rider in the next 10 years. We have to do something or there won’t be enough room for all the students.”

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