Families on Portland's west side worried about school boundary c - KPTV - FOX 12

Families on Portland's west side worried about school boundary changes

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Hundreds of southwest Portland parents piled into school district headquarters Thursday night to speak out against a proposed redistricting plan. If the current proposal is approved, thousands of students on the west side would have to switch schools.

"We ask that you truly address the root of the problem," said parent Rosie Platt. "We need additional space, or a new school in the inner west side to absorb the growth and provide a buffer toward future growth."

The District-Wide Boundary Review Advisory Committee (DBRAC) only heard public testimony for 15 minutes, but that didn't stop hundreds from attending.  So many people showed up, the district had to open up their overflow room to accommodate everyone. 

"No other school would be relocating such a substantial quadrant of low income families," said another concerned parent. "Our most recent count has identified 41 multi-family complexes and apartments that would be impacted."

Heather Wills and her husband moved to Hillsdale specifically so their son could attend Rieke Elementary, Robert Gray Middle School and Wilson High.

Five-year-old Hunter just started kindergarten at Rieke last fall and he loves it. But if the boundaries change, he’d have to attend Hayhurst. Wills thinks it would be disruptive for so many families.

“It really draws a line through the community that doesn’t make any sense,” she said. “This whole section of Hillsdale that can currently walk to Rieke would be at least a mile away from Hayhurst and would be unable to walk.”

School district leaders say nothing is set in stone yet. For a year and a half, a committee has been working on redistricting the west side to alleviate overcrowding at Chapman, Capitol Hill, Hayhurst and Lincoln High.

The current plan would move thousands of kids south. Portland Public Schools Spokeswoman Christine Miles says these are hard decisions, but ones they can’t put off anymore.

“We know we have overcrowding issues now,” said Miles. “With more students projected to come to the district, how can we fix it and how can we make it better for the kids now and for our future students?”

Wills knows her son would adjust and be fine at Hayhurst Elementary. For her, this is about livability and a cohesive neighborhood.

“It’s not the school and what the school is like and whether we like it better or worse. It’s more about the community," she said. 

Parents and concerned neighbors are invited to attend a meeting at Wilson High School on Tuesday, Jan. 19 that will focus on the boundary proposals.

DBRAC will make their final recommendations to the superintendent by late January, who will then likely make her recommendation to the school board in February, according to the district.

The board will consider and approve a final plan this Spring and the approved changes could begin phasing in as early as Fall 2016, according to the district.

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