|Volume 18, Issue 3||
BSD Middle School boundary decision due soon
Since fall 2019, a committee of parents, staff, and administrators have been working to create a plan to change the boundaries of Beaverton School District (BSD) Middle Schools in anticipation of the “Timberland” MS which will open in fall 2021. (Before it opens, the new middle school will receive an official name, chosen by the BSD Board.)
Rapid growth in housing in the northern and southern areas of the district has resulted in the need to build new schools. Resulting boundary changes are never going to please everyone. Those of us who grew up in established neighborhoods with unchanging school boundaries find it very difficult to understand. It’s hard for kids and families to form life-long friendships. The value of a school in creating a community of parents and kids gets lost in the effort, and it’s frustrating. The past decisions of BSD make the situation worse, siting schools in less than optimal places, for example.
The decision about when and where to build new schools is driven by the Long Range facility plan (last updated in 2010), the money available through approved bond measures (the 2014 Capitol Bond), and the available land supply.
In 2003, the Beaverton School District (BSD) condemned and then purchased a14-acre parcel in the middle of the former Teufel Nursery propertyfor a future school site. (This led to the Teufel family deciding to sell the entire property for development.) Following condemnation, according to Oregon Law, the land must be used “for a public purpose” within ten years of the action.
Planning for a middle school began in 2010, but funds were still needed. By July 2013 BSD announced plans for a new Capital Bond to finance construction. To avoid forfeiting the site, BSD partnered with THPRD to build a playing field on the site in 2014.
Bond measures have to identify specific projects that will be built with the money. The identified projects for the 2014 Bond included both the high school that was built in the south end of the district andthe new Timberland Middle School. After voters approved the measure in May 2014, the district issued plans for the middle school. It would function as a “swing school” to house students from a series of projects to rebuild or greatly remodel older schools. The 2014 Bond also financed those projects.
A Bethany parent (LC) sent us a question about the Middle School Boundary process, and it led to a dialog between that parent and CPO 7 veteran Mary Manseau, who has been following BSD planning for many years. Here’s some of that dialog.
LC: I am a parent in the Springville neighborhood and I am following Cedar Mill News’ coverage of the BSD process with great interest. In previous articles in 2016 and 2017, CMN correctly pointed out that BSD is overcrowded in North Bethany and will face issues. Now BSD is pushing to bus Springville students to Five Oaks instead of constructing a new middle school in North Bethany.
MM: Change is never easy and I understand your frustration with the process. But please understand this is not the first time and will not be the last time that boundaries will change. Boundaries in a rapidly growing school district are in constant flux. I have two children and have lived in my neighborhood (next door to Stoller) for almost 40 years.
In the time I've lived here, there have been three comprehensive high schools, two middle schools, and too many new elementary schools to keep track of constructed. Prior to the opening of Stoller, all middle school children had to be transported to schools south of 26. My son attended Terra Linda, Cedar Park and Sunset. My daughter attended Terra Linda, Findley, Stoller and Sunset. Neighborhood children slightly older than mine, attended Terra Linda, Meadow Park and Sunset. Before I moved into my current home, neighborhood children attended McKinley, Five Oaks and Aloha.
BSD does not have a middle school site or a high school site in North Bethany. During the planning for North Bethany, community members pushed BSD administrators to purchase land in North Bethany for one or both of these schools without success.
Because the school district is required to negotiate with property owners for school sites, they are in direct competition with developers for land purchases. If the school sites are not purchased well in advance of development, the school district can be forced to locate schools in less than desirable locations. When purchased well in advance, the school district is gambling on where the school sites will be needed. Stoller was built too far east. The problem was compounded when the decision was made to build on Timberland, placing another middle school on the eastern side of the district.
The school district does have an option for another middle school north of 26 when additional funding is available. Rock Creek Elementary is constructed on a site that is large enough to be converted into a middle school. At one point, the plan was to use the elementary school site east of Westview High School to construct an elementary school to replace Rock Creek Elementary and then convert/rebuild Rock Creek into a middle school. It is unclear whether this is still considered a BSD option for the future.
LC: Do you have updated long range plan info from BSD?
MM: The last update to the long-range plan was in 2010. Additional work was done (to include information from the 2010 census) prior to the decisions on the 2014 Bond Measure, but it was not incorporated into the facility plan. I heard rumblings last year that BSD was going to begin an update to the long-range plan, but haven't heard anything more since. I'm guessing the boundary work has prevented staff from working on the update. I'm hoping they will wait for updated numbers from the 2020 census before moving forward with the update. Here’s a link for the 2010 facility plan.
LC: Do you know why BSD seems to favor Findley and Jacob Wismer (JW) Elementary kids over Springville? (e.g. these 2 schools could have SUMMA and JW stay at Stoller while Springville is bused away.)
MM: None of the options are good for everyone. Priority seems to be given to “walkers.” JW boundaries surround Stoller and almost all the students can walk. Many of Findley's children are also walkers. Because SUMMA is an “option” school, I'm not sure why SUMMA would be given priority over other children in area.
LC: As someone who has had experience dealing with BSD, what would you recommend Springville neighborhood do to make sure its students are not bused all the way to Five Oaks? The Springville community has tried various advocacy campaigns, even going on television to tell their story.
MM: I believe it makes logical and geographical sense to move Findley students + SUMMA to Timberland. That would leave enough room in Stoller for Springville + Sato + Jacob Wismer.
LC: What else can be done to make BSD reconsider their strategy?
MM: Unfortunately, there is little you can do to convince BSD that the wants of Springville parents/students outweigh the needs of the school district. If this were just a question of whether to move Findley or Springville, the conversation would be a whole lot different. There are other factors coming into play including, but not limited to, balancing enrollment at the other middle schools in the district, trying to limit middle school splits into no more than two high schools, and trying to provide equal economic diversity between the schools.
Distance seems to matter only when walking is an option. When Stoller opened, Terra Linda and Oak Hills were both closer to Stoller than Rock Creek and both schools lobbied hard to be able to attend Stoller. Ultimately, Rock Creek, Findley and a portion of Bethany were selected to attend Stoller (JW, Springville and Sato did not exist yet). A portion of Bethany was included in Stoller's boundaries because the children living in this area were walkers.
LC: What do you think of the newest map posted by BSD on the middle school boundary website?
MM: It still seems to need some refinement. Problems that still could be addressed:
LC: One concern is that this map doesn't address 2025 overcrowding at Stoller.
MM: From the 2010 Long Range facility plan, 1100 students is the "Typical Target Enrollment" for middle schools. If you choose to go after the enrollment numbers, this is a number you might find useful. The county also charges a Transportation Development Tax (TDT) that is based upon the number of students enrolled. It is intended to address growth-related traffic volumes. Rightly or wrongly, this charge is not levied on portables (because they are considered temporary)—so this student number might also be used to justify limiting enrollment.
LC: Do you know if the BSD projections for population growth are correct, or could it over- or under-forecast growth? I did have correspondence with Ken Rencher at Washington County Long Range Planning, and he indicated one model of growth for North Bethany shows residential growth from 1700 housing units today to about 2300 units in 2030.
MM: Projections are guesses. To a certain extent, BSD can rely on internal projections for middle school students—for example, last year's fifth graders will be this year's sixth graders. BSD also tracks status of approved housing developments and can estimate numbers of children based upon past history. At times BSD has had difficulty even projecting growth one year out—five years out can get really murky.
I believe all area jurisdictions, including Metro, City of Beaverton, BSD and Washington County, use Portland State's Population Research Center for longer term population forecasting. The most recent copy of BSD forecast I have in my files is from April 2012 (would have been based on the 2010 census data) and I believe it was prepared for the 2014 Bond Measure. I'm not sure if BSD's current long-term projections are based upon intenal numbers or on updated PSU numbers.
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