Council expresses support of efforts to redraw Highline School boundaries


By Jack Mayne

After Highline School District officials explained that efforts to produce a new school boundaries decision that would meet as many objections and suggestions as possible, the Des Moines City Council at their April 26 session unanimously approved a resolution expressing support for the district’s ongoing efforts to redistribute students in schools close to their homes.

An earlier proposal to make changes in redrawing the boundaries is being fully vetted by the school board group’s efforts to ease problems and concerns, a senior Highline Schools officials told the Council meeting.

‘Best outcomes’
Highline School District Operations Officer Scott Logan (pictured above) told the Des Moines Council that he lives in the city “and I have kids in the city,” and changing school boundaries touches the concerns of people.

“The best outcome for our kids is what … everybody on that committee wants and everybody in this room wants,” he said.

“The district has an obligation to create a safe and successful education environment,” he said. “When you fill buildings too full, you don’t have the opportunity to reduce class sizes … there is an opportunity right now – kindergarten to third grade – to take class levels to 17 to one. This is funded by the new legislation … as a result of the McCleary Act and we want to take advantage of not only that but also be able to have manageable class sizes of 28 to one for the higher grades.” The numbers indicate the number of students per individual teacher.

To do that, Logan said there is the challenge of having “balanced populations” in the building and that means re-designating who goes to which school or classroom with the least impact to the community.

One change proposal was accepted, said Logan, and another meeting created to have time to “digest all of the information that has come from the community portion.”

Logan said the district’s hope is to “come up with a solution that supports the district as a whole, the best it can, and disrupting the least amount.”

The Nutting proposal
At the April 12 Council meeting, Yvonne Nutting of ABC 4 Highline protested the changes proposed by the Highline School District in the boundaries of schools within Des Moines, and her group had come up with an alternate feasible plan that “creates fewer changes across the entire district.”

“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 April 12. “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.”

Her group’s plan would permit “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 them to be eligible for City of Des Moines scholarships ….”

Logan said the ABC group’s proposal – and many others submitted to Highline Schools – would be mapped out on a new computer program that can take account of where the students are in school, where they live and other information to better illustrate which plan will be the best.

“Our end goal is to have an option to present to the school board on the June 9th school board meeting,” Logan said. “The school board makes the decision,” he said. “My hope is that we’ve got a proposal that supports the community as best we can.” He noted some concerns “highest on the radar” had been made.

Taking on the airport
Resident J.C. Harris (pictured above), during public comment period, said that the city should make Seattle-Tacoma International Airport part of its city planning.

“Des Moines has the worst ratio of benefit to impacts of any of the airport communities so it is incumbent on this city to take the lead in establishing a long-term plan to wrest control of the airport from the Port (of Seattle),” said Harris.

“The Port thinks in long-term strokes – everybody jokes about it but they truly have a 25 year plan and they have a 10 year plan, they have five year plans and they implement those. None of the cities have 10 year plans and five year plans but the Port is going to be with us … it is going to be with our grandchildren.

“Whether we like it or not,” said Harris, “As long as that thing exists, we must make it a part of our city planning and we’re not.”

By including other nearby cities, “We have a chance of going to Olympia and taking steps to little by little chip away at (Port) control,” said Harris, adding that City Manager Michael Mathias “said it very accurately when he said, ‘On our own, we’ll never get there.’ ”



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