Beaverton isn’t ready to change high school boundaries yet. Board members sent plans back to the superintendent Monday night.
“The board recognizes that this is a difficult task,” board chair Anne Bryan said, explaining the board’s 7-0 vote to reject the current set of maps and policy changes and have staff do further work on it.
“Some here tonight may observe our actions and conclude that the board lacks the requisite courage to make a hard decision,” Bryan continued. “I would like to suggest otherwise. That it reflects a commitment to the district’s pillars of learning.”
Beaverton is re-drawing its high school boundaries because it is opening a new high school at the south end of the district, called South Cooper Mountain High. But since much of Beaverton’s growth is projected to take place much farther north, district staff has worked with a Boundary Advisory Committee on a “domino effect” of boundary moves throughout the 40,000-student district.
Board members took up a boundary decision presented in April by Superintendent Jeff Rose. That followed months of work by an advisory committee made up of representatives from Beaverton’s high school communities.
Monday night, board members were scheduled to vote up or down on the plan, after considering how the boundary changes square with board priorities laid out last year. Board members voted 7-0 to accept the transition plan - how students would be re-assigned to high schools. But they rejected the boundary map, arguing the plan ran afoul of guidelines related to transportation and proximity to assigned schools.
Superintendent Rose gave a subdued response to the vote, saying that he “understands the support and lingering concerns” regarding the boundary proposal he finalized last month. His plans drew heavily on input from the Boundary Advisory Committee that spent months discussing boundary changes.
But in the end, parents found fault, particularly when it came to the distance students would have to travel to reach their new high schools. The board largely agreed with parents.
Parents from two neighborhoods had argued the high school boundary changes didn’t adequately prioritize school proximity and transportation concerns. Parents also tried to raise doubts about the plan’s reliance on certain student poverty and enrollment numbers. The board agreed that the superintendent needed to take another look at the transportation and proximity aspects.
Robert Jones of the Waterhouse neighborhood was pleased with the vote. He has two middle-school aged children who could be affected by the changes.
“Having to attend a high school that, depending on where you live in the neighborhood, is either the third or fourth farthest high school in the district from your home – this decision instructs the superintendent to go back and look at that criteria again,” Jones said.
Some parents wished the Beaverton board had also pushed against enrollment assumptions, but board members didn’t ask for that. That was the hope of Scott Gradisnik in the West Tualatin View Elementary area.
“They’re over-projecting in certain areas and under-projecting in others,” Gradisnik said. “[It] would’ve been nice for the board to have picked up on that. You know, I guess we have another thirty days – at least – before there might be another board vote. So it may be another thirty days to get new information to convince them.”
Superintendent Jeff Rose is set to leave Beaverton in a few days, to start a new job in Georgia. A district spokesperson said there’s no timeline on the boundary review, but it’s likely to come from other district officials.
The current proposed changes relate only to high schools. But the Beaverton School District plans to take up elementary school changes in the upcoming school year - and possible middle school changes after that.