School map shifts for Battle Ground

Tukes Valley parents upset boundaries altered without notification

By Jacques Von Lunen, Columbian staff writer

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The Battle Ground school board last week voted to redraw many of the district's school boundaries.

The decision was largely driven by a federal mandate to reorganize two of its schools, combined with rising enrollment in the southern end of its territory.

But many parents whose children attend Tukes Valley middle and primary schools are upset because they were given no notice before last week's vote.

The district is facing two unrelated challenges.

Maple Grove

Maple Grove Primary School once again did not meet a federally mandated standard called Adequate Yearly Progress, after not enough of its students passed their reading tests last year. Maple Grove primary and middle schools are in step four of the federal classification system, which meant they needed to choose one of a list of reform options.

After hearings and meetings that began in March, the district decided to combine the two schools into one K-8 school, along with other, less-sweeping reforms that are still being worked on.

This means the new, combined school will have just one set of administrators next year. But steps taken before have altered enrollment numbers at Maple Grove schools, said district spokesman Gregg Herrington.

As part of previous sanctions for not meeting the federal standard, the district had to allow parents to send their children to neighboring schools with better testing records. Enrollment at the primary school has dropped from 659 four years ago to 576 last year, according to state school records.

Tukes Valley

Neighboring Tukes Valley schools absorbed some of the movement, which is why the boundary between the two school

attendance areas will move west this summer.

But another change to Tukes Valley boundaries caught parents of primary and middle-schoolers by surprise.

The school board last week voted unanimously to slice a large area off the north end of the Tukes Valley attendance area. Board member Monty Anderson initially proposed taking the area north of 259th Street and east of 182nd Avenue out of Tukes Valley's boundary and sending the 172 students living there to Captain Strong Primary and Chief Umtuch Middle instead, according to the meeting minutes.

That move in part is due to harsher winter conditions in the east end of the Tukes Valley area. With the new boundary, kids in the northern part, which tends to get less snow, don't have to miss school because of bad weather elsewhere.

But materials sent out to parents before last week's board meeting did not show that change on a list of possible boundary movements, which is why many felt blindsided by the vote.

Exception allowed

Partially in response to Tukes Valley parents' reaction, the district sent out a letter Friday in which it announced that any parent affected by the move who is seeking a boundary exception is guaranteed to have that request approved for one year. In short, parents don't have to move their kids to another school this fall.

Other boundaries also are affected. A lot of new houses are being built in the attendance area holding Glenwood Heights Primary and Laurin Middle, Herrington said. These schools are on septic wastewater systems, which limits their ability to add classrooms, Herrington said.

In response, that area is losing a triangle between St. Johns Road and 88th Street to the Pleasant Valley boundary. That proposal had been announced before last week's meeting.

Exact numbers aren't available, but it appears that about 700 students will be affected by the boundary changes throughout the district.

Some teachers also will have to move. No final numbers on how many teachers will change schools are available yet, Herrington said.

Jacques Von Lunen: 360-735-4515; http://twitter.com/col_schools;jacques.vonlunen@columbian.com.