Committee finalizes boundary recommendations

October 22, 2008

By Chantelle Lusebrink

After eight months of work, the school district’s Boundary Review Committee finalized new boundary recommendations Oct. 15.Those are now in the hands of Superintendent Steve Rasmussen and school board members, who will study them and provide feedback.

Rasmussen will decide to approve, amend or reject them in coming months.

If adopted, the recommendations would go into effect in fall 2010.

“If there is major change that necessitates feedback, that will be built into the timeline,” said Sara Niegowski, director of district communications.

The committee was charged with redrawing the school boundaries for all grade levels.

Members made decisions based on a charter given to them by board members that included rules like maintaining reasonable commute times for students and balancing student populations.

“I am proud you faced the danger by taking off your own hat and putting on the hat of the community, and taking into account what is best for the students, what is best for the teachers and what is best for this community,” Rasmussen said.

To do so, they examined district documents, including student enrollment trends and bus maps.

The final recommendation is nearly identical to the one community members commented on in May.

In the end, several neighborhoods were moved from schools to go to new ones at the elementary and middle school levels, but high school boundaries remained the same.

Questions still remain for residents.

For some elementary school communities, the process moved their children from one school to another for the third time in nearly five years.

Members of the Overdale Park community voiced their concern about the boundary process after their children were moved from Grand Ridge Elementary to Clark Elementary and West Highlands children were moved from Clark to Grand Ridge.

Many Overdale residents said they believed their children were moved simply to keep Clark open and they argued that keeping the West Highlands community at Clark would eventually provide it with more children than their neighborhood.

The Grand Ridge parent representative made a proposal to keep the Overdale Park community at Grand Ridge, but it was voted down.

Afterward, parents, like Antonette and Doug Wood, also questioned the process used to evaluate boundary proposals; both said they were hoping committee members would systematically go through their rules, investigating whether they were inline with their charter, and back the decision up with data.

High school boundaries were another point of tension for many communities.

Talk of moving high school students from one school to another to equalize populations sparked tension between several communities and brought forth claims of inequity between schools.

Of concern was the ability of Liberty, at 1,200 students, to provide an equitable education compared to Skyline and Issaquah high schools, which will have nearly 1,800 students with the conversion of the freshman campus.

Since high school boundaries did not change, Patrick Murphy, director of high schools, reiterated that district officials and principals are working to evaluate overall high school programming and equity.

That review will take place over the next two years, and there will be ample time for public comment and review of the plans, according to district officials.

District officials are supposed to have those plans outlined by mid-2009.

On the Web

www.issaquah.wednet.edu/news/hottopics/ViewArticle.aspx?NewsID=466

The committee’s recommendation

Implement new boundary plan in 2010.

Draws boundaries for 15 elementary schools, since school board members voted to build a new one and keep Clark open.

The only elementary school population split into two middle schools is Sunny Hills.

Draws boundaries for five middle schools, with the conversion of the freshman campus to a fifth middle school in fall 2010.

Students from the new elementary, Discovery and half of Sunny Hills will attend Pine Lake Middle School.

Students from Challenger, Cascade Ridge and Endeavour will attend Beaver Lake Middle School.

Students from Grand Ridge, Sunset and the other half of Sunny Hills will attend Pacific Cascade Middle School.

Students from Cougar Ridge, Issaquah Valley and Clark will attend Issaquah Middle School.

Students from Newcastle, Apollo, Briarwood and Maple Hills will attend Maywood Middle School.

High school boundaries remain the same.

Pine Lake and Beaver Lake students will attend Skyline High School.

Pacific Cascade and Issaquah students will attend Issaquah High School.

Maywood students will attend Liberty High School.

Skyline and Issaquah high schools will have populations of between 1,750 and 1,800 once the freshman campus is converted.

Liberty will have a population of about 1,200 students.

Tiger Mountain Community High School is a school students choose to attend and is not part of the boundary review process.

Reach Reporter Chantelle Lusebrink at 392-6434, ext. 241, or clusebrink@isspress.com.

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