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Parents raise concerns over proposed boundary changes in Highline School District

For weeks, the two moms have pored over school boundary maps, talked to other concerned parents and formulated what to say to officials with Highline Public Schools. (Photo: KOMO News)

BURIEN, Wash. - As their kids played a game of Monopoly on Tuesday, Bobbie Jo Shockley and Yvonne Nutting sat down to strategize.

For weeks, the two moms have pored over school boundary maps, talked to other concerned parents and formulated what to say to officials with Highline Public Schools.

“We’re hoping that they see there are communities out there, not just numbers,” Nutting said. “Communities, keeping cohorts together, keeping families together, moving on in the long run.”

For the first time in more than two decades the South King County school district is moving boundaries – all in an effort to brace for two new schools opening next year, said district spokeswoman Catherine Carbone Rogers.

“Good news is we are getting new schools, which will allow us to lower class sizes and relieve overcrowding, bad news is we have to change some boundaries,” Carbone Rogers said.

The district said a fifth middle school and a new elementary school will open in the fall of 2019 to alleviate overcrowding and to follow a Legislative mandate to shrink the size of early elementary classes.

Carbone Rogers said nearly 19,000 students attend the more than 30 schools in the district.

More than 300 parents have joined Nutting and Shocking’s group, ABC4 Highline. The group, according to its website, is focused on equity, focusing on future district needs, community ties and safety.

Shockley said the “plan that we’ve put together is not only looking at how it’s effecting our kids, but how is it effecting communities all over the district?”

Carbone Rogers said the Capital Facilities Advisory Committee, a volunteer group, has met regularly for months to talk about the boundary plan. The plan, she said, is not set in stone.

The district, on its website, is asking people to attend a “Boundary Design Session” at their Central Office at 6 p.m. on April 17. The school board is expected to vote on the boundary plan in June; the changes won’t take effect until 2019, Carbone Rogers said.

“Unfortunately, there’s probably not a way to come up with a plan that makes everybody happy,” Carbone Rogers cautioned.

Nutting and Shockley said they understand the advisory committee has been hard at work, but say the committee needs to hear directly from the people who will be directly impacted.

“There are some communities that are really getting split apart,” Shockley said.

Nutting added, “the community wants to keep their communities together.”

Both women said under the new boundary plan their children will have to go a long way to attend school. Shockley estimates her two children will have to ride the bus at least two hours a day to get to middle school.

“Instead of being bussed to one of the closer middle schools, they would actually be bussed across the district on the other side of the airport,” Shockley said.

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