Council hears from citizens’ committee on changes to school boundaries


By Jack Mayne

The Des Moines City Council at their Thursday (April 12) meeting unanimously approved placing a resolution on its April 26th agenda objecting to a Highline School District proposal to change individual school boundaries.

The resolution by a citizen’s group called ‘ABC 4 Highline’ say their plan reduces distances to schools their children attend as well as keeping children in elementary schools together as they are prepared for high school.

Des Moines resident and longtime state Senator Karen Keiser said the recent legislative also approved a capital fund budget, which will provide $2 million to finance the replacement of the crumbling marina bulkhead and $500,000 for the Redondo reef project.

Seek school changes
Yvonne Nutting (pictured above) of ABC 4 Highline, which stands for Alternate Boundary Committee, is protesting the changes proposed by the Highline School District in the boundaries of schools within Des Moines. She said the ABC group has come up with an alternate feasible plan that “creates fewer changes across the entire district.”

Nutting said the boundary changes are still in the draft stages and not final and that her the ABC group presented a draft resolution for the Council to consider. She said the Normandy Park City Council approved the resolution at their meeting earlier in the week.

“Our plan reduces driving distances for parents and busing while keeping crossing major arterials and high traffic to a minimum, ensuring safety and continuity,” she said. “Our alternate plan not only helps keep elementary school students together … but 80 percent of the middle schools will feed into their dedicated high schools. This allows students to forge new groups of friends that will continue on through high school. Our plan also keeps City of Des Moines elementary school students in the City of Des Moines, allowing the to be eligible for City of Des Moines scholorships ….”

Earlier, Nutting’s committee said the Highline School District’s Capital Facilities Advisory Committee’s Proposal for Boundary Line Changes (CFAC) “has more changes than necessary.”

“While adding a fifth middle school is a difficult task, keeping communities together, throughout the district, is essential,” Nutting’s ABC group said. “The transitions to both middle and high school are already difficult. We want to give all our children the best opportunity for success. We believe our plan meets the guidelines and creates fewer changes across the entire district.

Keeps kids together
“Our alternative plan not only helps elementary schools stay together from K-12, but 80 percent of the middle schools will feed to the dedicated high school. This allows students to forge new groups of friends that will continue through high school. The Highline School Board has made it clear that the CFAC proposal is still a draft and not in its final state. Community feedback will be a critical component of the Board’s decision.”

Yvonne Nutting’s husband, Jeremy (pictured above), is a Des Moines Councilmember, and told the Council the proposed changes affect housing values but “also affects our children which is the most important thing of all.”

The Councilmember said there are scholarships that go unused now because scholarships from outside the city are not offered to students in the city even though they are attending Highline district facilities.

Not against district
“I am not supporting this because it’s my wife is up there presenting tonight, but I propose that we add this to the (April) 26th as a resolution that we adopt,” and that the resolution isn’t against the school district but against the committee change proposals that his Des Moines constituents oppose.

“This isn’t just for our kids,” said Nutting, “it is for the parent who can’t speak up for their kids.”

Deputy Mayor Vic Pennington agreed it was an important issue and the intent of the resolution is not opposing another government agency, but it is “to say we have a group of citizens that are concerned about this and we, as a Council, “are standing behind our citizens” as it has during other controversies such as the “effects of aviation on our city” and the development of the city’s marina.

“We can disagree with another government agency in what they are doing and certainly express our opinion and still get up the next day and shake their hand and go down and do business,” said Pennington. “I think this is a well thought out resolution and ABC Highline has done a lot of very good work.”

Councilmember Luisa Bangs said “beyond everything else, this is in support of the children” and that it makes sense to keep children in the community in which they live.

Keiser’s Olympia report
Washington State Sen. Karen Keiser said “we had a 60-day session and we got out on time and we balanced a budget and we have a property tax cut and we provided some significant new funding for both education and mental health” and those are “significant accomplishments that I was glad to take home.”

The session also approved a capital fund budget, which will provide $2 million to finance the replacement of the crumbling marina bulkhead and $500,000 for the Redondo boardwalk bridge project.

She said there will be “about $24 million” going into the Highline College building for health professions.

“They are remodeling one of their big old lecture halls into a real training center for all kinds of health professions.

The Legislature also approved about $4 million for Highline School District for new construction of school facilities, said Keiser.

On a statewide issue, the senator said they session provided $360 million which goes “in large part now for what we call supportive housing. If we can get people into stable housing, and then do some wrap around services, they will thrive, they will be stable, they will take their meds, they will be becoming productive citizens again. That is the road to recovery that we found to be the most efficient.”

Legislators also provided $300,000 for the airport environmental study and is asking cities around Sea-Tac airport to come up with another $300,000 for a full environmental, and health impact study and mitigation. She asked Des Moines, as she has other area cities, to help finance the issue.

Keiser said there needs to be continued research on potential other airport for cargo to be offloaded in the region, and potential addition of even more than present passenger service at Paine Field in Snohomish County. She, as others have, noted Sea-Tac is the fastest growing airport in the nation and has the smallest footprint for any major airport in the country.


Share Your Opinion

By participating in our online comment system, you are agreeing to abide by the terms of our comment policy.

...and oh, if you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!