News

District proposes boundary changes

ARLINGTON The Arlington Public Schools Boundary Review Committee began its series of four information nights on proposed attendance area boundary changes for the Arlington School District, at Pioneer Elementary Nov. 14.
Trae Brown, a Pioneer parent and co-chair of the Boundary Review Committee, was joined by ASD Deputy Superintendent Warren Hopkins in presenting three proposals for such boundary changes, in order to solicit input from the community on each of them before the committee makes its recommendation to the ASD Board of Directors by February of next year.
Brown began by describing the makeup of the committee, whose voting members consist of five community representatives who have no children currently enrolled in any ASD elementary or middle schools, three parents each from the Presidents, Pioneer, Kent Prairie and Eagle Creek elementaries, one parent each from the Haller and Post middle schools and Trafton Elementary, and one administrator and one staff member each from every ASD elementary and middle school.
Brown then reviewed how the committee conducted research, convened six subcommittees of half a dozen members each to develop proposals for boundary changes, and narrowed those six proposals down to three for presentation to the public.
According to Brown, the committees guiding principles in developing their proposals were, in order of priority, to balance the schools class sizes, account for future growth in the attendance areas, ensure the childrens safety, factor in the students ethnicities and socio-economics, try to reflect natural boundaries and neighborhoods, and accommodate the needs of support staff.
After their first meeting April 18, the committee met twice a month in May and June, during which they received and reviewed data from Arlington City Planning Manager Cliff Strong and the Snohomish County Planning Department, before doing homework until their Aug. 29 meeting, when the Transportation Director demonstrated the TransFinder mapping program for students bus routes. The committee started developing their proposals Sept. 19, which were finalized when the enrollment data for the current school year was provided Oct. 3.
The committee narrowed down their proposals from six to three Nov. 6, and concluded that considerable growth is happening in our school district, especially in Pioneers current boundary. They likewise asserted that the transfer of development rights in the Burn Road and Tveit Loop Road area could potentially bring as many as 457 new elementary students into the district, virtually a school in itself.
However, even though the district could possibly include more than 900 additional elementary students by 2012, Brown admitted that its very difficult to anticipate when this growth might happen.
Proposal A would move the Pioneer attendance area south of 172nd Street into Kent Prairie, while shifting the river boundary south of 200th to Burn Road, moving those students from Kent Prairie to Eagle Creek. This proposal would also shift the boundary between Presidents and Eagle Creek from 260th to 252nd, moving the students in that area from Presidents to Eagle Creek, while moving the Kent Prairie students west of Highway 9 to Presidents. Its final boundary change would move the attendance area east of 67th and south of 204th from Pioneer to Presidents.
Proposal B would instead move the attendance area west of 47th and north of 188th from Pioneer to Presidents, while moving the Pioneer attendance area of the Lindsay annexation into Kent Prairie. This proposal would also move the Presidents students west and north of the cemetery, including those currently in the Circle Bluff area, into Kent Prairie, while moving the TDR area of Burn Road and Tveit Loop Road, north of 195th to the river, from the Kent Prairie attendance area into Eagle Creek.
Proposal C would simply shift the boundary between Presidents and Eagle Creek, east of I-5 and south of 260th, to the river, moving those Presidents students to Eagle Creek, while moving the area north of 172nd and west of 67th into the Presidents attendance area.
The current attendance totals for each elementary in the district are 477 for Eagle Creek, 498 for Kent Prairie, 579 for Pioneer and 580 for Presidents. If each proposals boundary changes were already in effect, Proposal A would result in attendance totals of 633 for Eagle Creek, 473 for Kent Prairie, 511 for Pioneer and 517 for Presidents, while Proposal B would give the district attendance totals of 539 for Eagle Creek, 555 for Kent Prairie, 478 for Pioneer and 562 for Presidents. Under the same circumstances, Proposal C would create attendance totals of 597 at Eagle Creek, 506 for Kent Prairie, 484 for Pioneer and 547 for Presidents.
The current attendance total for these four schools is 2,134, and the committee estimates that 978 additional students could start attending these schools within the next five years. By 2012, if this potential population growth occurs in the expected areas, Proposal A would assign 696 students to Eagle Creek, 1,061 to Kent Prairie, 821 to Pioneer and 534 to Presidents, while Proposal B would send 1,048 students to Eagle Creek, 690 to Kent Prairie, 785 to Pioneer and 589 to Presidents. By this time, Proposal C would distribute 646 students to Eagle Creek, 1,019 to Kent Prairie, 875 to Pioneer and 572 to Presidents.
The actual student body capacities for each school place Eagle Creek at 636, Kent Prairie at 611, Pioneer at 561 and Presidents at 629, although Hopkins noted that each school can accommodate a range of 560-640 students.
After attendees at the Nov. 14 information night broke down into groups of three to five members, to weigh the merits of each proposal, they posed questions to Brown and Hopkins. Hopkins agreed with concerned parents who saw a need for more schools in the district, but warned that, even if a bond issue was passed tomorrow, it would be a matter of years before construction on a new facility was completed.
Hopkins explained to parents who were likewise worried about the Arlington High School student capacity that its current capacity is approximately 1,600, but the facility had been designed to accommodate additions, which could take the buildings capacity up to 2,000.
When parents inquired about the timetable on which any of the boundary changes would be implemented, Hopkins advised them to include their suggestions for such a schedule on their submitted comment forms.
Although the information nights at the Kent Prairie and Pioneer Elementaries already took place Nov. 20 and 21, respectively, the Presidents Elementary information night is set for Nov. 30, from 6-7:30 p.m., in the schools library. Members of the public are invited either to attend and speak at the meeting, or to submit their questions, comments and concerns to Misti Gilman, by phone at 360-618-6207, or via e-mail at Misti_Gilman@asd.wednet.edu.

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