A Beaverton parent holds up a sign that reads "Keep Our Schools Close To Home." A boundary committee has been working to rewrite lines all over the district.

A Beaverton parent holds up a sign that reads “Keep Our Schools Close To Home.” A boundary committee has been working to rewrite lines all over the district.

Rob Manning/OPB

Beaverton parents challenged a school boundary proposal Tuesday night involving hundreds of students.  

A boundary committee has been working to rewrite lines all over the district, because Beaverton is opening a new high school.

South Cooper Mountain High School will open on the south end of the Beaverton School District in fall 2017. But to balance enrollments throughout the district’s soon-to-be six high schools, the boundary committee is proposing boundary changes as far north as Westview and Sunset high schools.

The latest proposal came out just days ago, surprising many parents.

Eighth grader Rachel Openlander would have to attend a much more distant high school.  

“The longer drive would give me less time to sleep, when I’d already be waking up much earlier than usual, since high school starts one and a half hours earlier than middle school. Cutting into sleep time is not healthy for me, or anyone,” Openlander said. 

Openlander also said that attending the more distant Aloha High School would make it less likely she would take part in after-school activities, such as theater.

Openlander joined a number of parents who testified about the proposal’s effect on neighborhoods between SW Baseline Road and Highway 26. High school students in that area currently attend Westview High School. Some parents suggested that if their children had to change schools, it made more sense to move them to Sunset High School, a change they argued would better balance socioeconomic factors and overall enrollment among schools. 

The boundary committee also heard from a number of parents representing Sexton Mountain Elementary. They questioned moving their children from Beaverton High to Southridge. They favored moving to the new South Cooper Mountain High School, as families just to their west and south would be doing.

Several parents offered alternatives and research, including a study brought by Jean Singer showing the effect on traffic safety.  

“The safety of our students and their families should be the number one thing that people are thinking about, and this map in its current form doesn’t support that,” Singer told the boundary committee.   

The boundary committee’s fifteen members draw three representatives from each of Beaverton’s current high schools. One parent argued the committee should expand to include two representatives living in areas that are clearly going to be within the new high school boundary, to represent South Cooper Mountain High.

Beaverton’s boundary committee recommendations are due in March, with final plans up to the superintendent. It would then be the Beaverton school board’s job to ensure the plans followed criteria the district enumerated at the beginning of the boundary process.

Beaverton’s high school boundary process comes as Oregon’s largest district, Portland Public Schools, is wrestling boundary changes primarily focused on elementary and middle schools.