Final attendance boundaries set for district schools

December 15, 2008

By Chantelle Lusebrink

Superintendent Steve Rasmussen approved new school boundaries for the district Dec. 11. 

“Today, I am pleased to officially adopt the committee’s final recommendation for implementation in the fall of 2010,” he wrote in a letter to the community. The committee’s recommendation “achieves a remarkable balance of the parameters,” he wrote. “I attended all but one meeting, and I was impressed by the members’ holistic approach.”

Maps of the new boundaries are posted on the district’s Web site and a link for families to use their home address to confirm their new attendance area should be available soon. 

In February, Rasmussen commissioned a Boundary Review Committee, made up of principals and parent representatives, to redraw school boundaries for all grade levels. 

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

The review was conducted to balance student populations at various schools to accommodate for larger student populations at Issaquah and Skyline high schools, the conversion of Pacific Cascade Freshman Campus to a middle school and the building of a new elementary school, preliminarily called Elementary 15. 

The committee made its final recommendation to Rasmussen Oct. 15. It was nearly identical to the first recommendation the committee presented to the public 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. 

During the past two months, Rasmussen has reviewed the committee’s recommendation. After adopting the boundaries, he presented the recommendation to school board members Dec. 12.

Several community members at the board meeting raised concerns about the review process, specifically impacts it would have on their communities and children.

The concerns were the same as those expressed by certain communities for the past 10 months.

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 process after their children were moved from Grand Ridge Elementary School to Clark Elementary School and West Highlands children were moved from Clark to Grand Ridge.

Many Overdale Park 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 in October. 

High school boundaries were another point of contention 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 education equal to Skyline and Issaquah, which will have nearly 1,800 students each with the conversion of the freshman campus. 

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, who said they would have those plans outlined by mid-2009.

 

THEN

In February, to accommodate several construction projects and the shifting of student populations, district officials commissioned a committee to redraw school boundaries for all grade levels in the district. 

NOW

Superintendent Steve Rasmussen adopted new school boundaries Dec. 11. The new boundaries are those recommended by the district’s Boundary Review Committee. 

NEXT

District officials, with help from parents and students, will create transition plans for families to help ease the stress of moving school communities. The boundaries will take effect in fall 2010.

 

Reach Reporter Chantelle Lusebrink at 392-6434, ext. 241, or clusebrink@isspress.com. Comment on this story at www.issaquahpress.com. 

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