A series of public forums is scheduled to discuss the changes, which would be far-reaching.
Sarah Tracy had mixed emotions when she saw a map of proposed new boundaries for North Thurston Public Schools.
She lives in a neighborhood that would fall into the zone for Salish Middle School, which opens next fall in the Hawks Prairie area. Her daughter will be part of its inaugural sixth-grade class “which we’re thrilled about,” Tracy said.
But if North Thurston School Board moves forward with a Boundary Review Committee’s recommendations, Tracy’s neighborhood would be moved into a different elementary-school service area.
She said the proposed changes would mean her son, who is in fourth grade at Olympic View Elementary School, would be moved to Meadows Elementary School for a year before entering Salish.
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“That would be three schools in three years,” Tracy said.
District officials are presenting the proposed changes during a series of public forums this week at three of its high schools.
Among the major changes recommended by the committee:
• Lacey Elementary School students would go to Salish Middle School (they currently go to Chinook Middle School) and North Thurston High School.
• Woodland Elementary School students would go to Nisqually Middle School (they currently go to Komachin Middle School) and Timberline High School.
• A portion of Marvin Road would become a new high-school boundary, and some neighborhoods that are part of the North Thurston High School service area would move to River Ridge High School.
Officials say the boundary changes are needed to help populate the new middle school next fall and a new elementary school that’s scheduled to open in fall 2017. Several changes will help make room for growth that’s expected in certain neighborhoods, said consultant Jim Dugan, who served as facilitator for the Boundary Review Committee.
The nearly 25-member group began meeting in March. It’s made up of parents, staff, students and other community members from the district’s three comprehensive high-school zones: North Thurston, River Ridge and Timberline.
Committee member Stephanie Holmstrom said it was a lot of hard work, but she enjoyed it. “In the end, a lot of us had the same ideas,” she said.
The group tried to come up with a plan that kept enrollment levels even at each of the schools, and allowed cohorts of students to stay together as much as possible, Holmstrom said.
Still, she said she knew some proposals wouldn’t be well-received.
“This is difficult,” she said. “Change is difficult.”
Katie Sheftic, of Lacey, said she plans to ask the School Board to allow military families to be grandfathered into their current school boundaries or given priority if a waiver system is put into place. She has a first-grader at Olympic View and a preschooler who would attend the school beginning next year.
“Myself and all the other military parents in our neighborhood are sick about the burden of yet another school transition this will force upon our children who have painfully transitioned from so many schools already,” Sheftic wrote in an email to The Olympian.
But the proposals are tough on civilian families, too, said Tracy, who is PTA president at Olympic View. She’s hoping district officials will permit students to stay at their current elementary schools if they only have a year or two left, or possibly give priority for waivers based on longevity in the district.
“It’s really important to support those friendships that will continue throughout their school career,” Tracy said. “So it makes me sad to see them split up.”
Depending on community feedback, the Boundary Review Committee could adjust its recommendations before presenting a final plan to the School Board for adoption in November. Most changes would be phased in from 2016 to 2018, although many of the logistics need to be worked out, officials say.