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Originally published Saturday, November 18, 2006 at 12:00 AM

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Northshore School District considering boundary alternatives

After hearing from hundreds of parents and community members, Northshore School District is looking at four new options to its plan to redraw...

Seattle Times Eastside bureau

After hearing from hundreds of parents and community members, Northshore School District is looking at four new options to its plan to redraw many of its school-attendance boundaries.

The original plan proposed in September would change the boundaries of eight elementary schools and all of the district's junior highs and high schools, with most students being asked to change schools at the beginning of next school year.

Three of the four new options would offer a phased-in approach and allow some junior-high and high-school students to continue attending the schools they have expected to attend.

"We focused on the feedback we heard," said Susan Stoltzfous, spokeswoman for the district. "Some of the things that people have brought up make sense, or we hadn't thought of."

Northshore boundary changes


Northshore School District is considering four recommendations for changes to its plan to redraw school boundaries. More information about the proposal is available on the district's Web site: www.nsd.org

Option 1

• Minor street-grid changes in north and west portions of district.

Option 2a

• Minor street-grid changes in north and west portions of district.

• Implements boundary changes for elementary-school students starting fall 2007.

• Incoming seventh-graders would attend the junior-high school that the boundary changes called for starting fall 2007. Incoming 10th-graders would attend the high school that the changes called for starting next year.

• Provides waivers for current seventh- and eighth-graders who wish to stay at their junior high school through ninth grade. Also allows automatic waivers for next year's 11th-

and 12th-graders. No bus transportation would be provided for students on waivers, however.

Option 2b

• Same as Option 2a, but includes bus transportation for junior-high students who wish to remain at their current school.

• This option would cost an estimated $874,000 more than the original plan, including $432,000 to provide transportation and $400,000 to provide additional portables to continue to house some students in overcrowded schools.

Option 3

• Minor street-grid changes in north and west portions of district.

• Implements elementary-school boundary changes starting fall 2007.

• Leaves secondary feeder patterns unchanged, so junior-high and high-school students will continue to go to the school they currently attend or would attend under current school boundaries.

• This option would cost an estimated $800,000 to $3 million more than the original plan, including the cost of providing additional portables and classroom space for overcrowded junior high and high schools.

Option 4

• Minor street-grid changes in north and west portions of district.

• Implements elementary-school boundary changes starting fall 2007.

• Next year's seventh-, eighth- and ninth-graders would be given automatic waivers to remain at their current junior high until they move to high school.

• Starting in 2008, 10th-graders would move to the high school the boundary changes call for.

• No bus transportation for students on waivers.

Source: Northshore School District

All four options include tweaks to the proposed elementary boundary changes. Most of the options also cost more than the original plan.

The School Board will have to take a close look at how much it can afford to spend on implementing the changes, because the district's budget is already stretched, Stoltzfous said.

"The board is going to have to consider the fact that the budget is not just tight but will have to shrink by $540,000 next year," she said. "It's going to be a big board decision."

The board is scheduled to vote on the boundary changes Nov. 28. The proposal is meant to balance attendance between overcrowded schools in the fast-developing north end of the district and underenrolled schools in the east.

Some parents say they are glad to see the district looking at other options.

"I see this as a step in the right direction that they are considering anything else at all," said Sirkku Willie, who has four children in Northshore schools. "I would be OK if at least my eighth-grader gets to stay at his school next year."

She and other parents say they are concerned the district's plan is a short-term solution. Some say the district isn't considering the number of new homes that will likely be built in the Bothell area, and long-term impacts of the urban-growth boundary (UGB), which runs through the middle of the school district.

The UBG is a legal boundary separating urban land, where dense development is allowed, from rural land, where little development is allowed.

"My worry is that this is really a Band-Aid," Willie said. "I'm afraid that in five years, we'll be here again, because we'll need to build a new school, and we'll have to redo the boundaries again then."

The school district thinks the new school boundaries would work for another five or six years, but after that, it isn't sure how changes to the UGB may affect new residential developments, Stoltzfous said. The district spans both King and Snohomish counties,

"There's too many variables that affect enrollment," she said. "We are realizing there's a likely chance we'll need a new school. But it's such a big investment, it's in everyone's best interest to try and find other solutions to overcrowding."

Rachel Tuinstra: 206-515-5637 or rtuinstra@seattletimes.com

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