To our West TV Neighbors,
As you may know, the Beaverton School District is in the midst of adjusting the high school boundaries in preparation for the opening of the South Cooper Mountain High School in Fall 2017. The initial “Springboard Proposal” introduced on Oct 29, 2015, is recommending that West TV students feed into Beaverton High School – a plan that many in our community oppose and we need to let the school district know why it is a poor choice.
The Beaverton School District is informing the public through its website and a series of public meetings. The website has everything you need to know about the process, schedule and criteria for the decision-making process. We encourage you to review this information and attend the meetings being held now through March 2016. However, it appears the only way to give the district our input at this point is by submitting written comments because no public comments will be accepted at the meetings until January.
Thus our reason for writing this document. We all have personal reasons for wanting to stay at Sunset – from academics and athletics, to home values and community connection – but many of those will carry little weight with a public process focused on demographics, logistics and costs. We have to pursuade the district that it is in the best interest of the greater Beaverton community to keep West TV students at Sunset.
This is where you come in. West TV parents are banding together to research, articulate and share the reasons that we should continue to be part of the Sunset community. We would like your help in developing those ideas and submit letters to the district as the process unfolds. We hope that parents throughout the West TV community can use these ideas as a resource for constructing letters that reflect common themes, but also use their own voice and individual perspective. If the decision-makers at the district level receive numerous letters expressing similar themes, we may be able to build a rationale for them to keep the West TV area in a Sunset community.
The current students affected in grades 1 – 9 represent 300 to 400 families in the West TV area. That is not a lot compared to larger elementary schools, which makes every voice important. And even if your kids are older or younger, every voice will count if we come out in numbers and show we care deeply about the outcome. Please take a few minutes to think about how this decision would affect our community, contribute a few ideas to the cause, and write a letter to the district stating why you believe it is in their best interests to keep West TV in the Sunset High School boundary.
— Grant Kimball and Adele Hughes
This document is organized in sections that reflect school district criteria for the boundary recommendations. The district has identified four primary criteria, three secondary criteria, and two recommended criteria from the Superintendent. A number of West TV area parents have researched and evaluated reasons our students should remain in the Sunset High School district for the good of our community and our children.
Our findings are documented here so you can use information that is important to you in your letters, conversations and testimony in the coming months as the process unfolds. We will continue to update this information, so keep in touch with email, Facebook (coming soon), and Twitter.
When it comes to writing a letter or having any discussion in our community, we feel there are several very important things to consider:
1. Be positive. Beaverton is fortunate to have one of the best school systems in the state. Is there room for improvement? Sure. But, publicly bashing a district leader, the boundary adjustment process, a school you don’t want to go to, or anything else about Beaverton School District will get us nowhere. Be positive in your comments. Your voice will be heard that way and you will be contributing something to the solution, not the problem.
2. Focus on the big picture. We all have very personal reasons for wanting to express our opinions and get involved. However, the school district needs to consider the impact on everyone in the community. Remember that the people involved live in our community and that many schools and neighborhoods throughout the district are being disrupted. Demonstrate in your letter that you understand the challenge they face and the larger issues at hand, then suggest how keeping West TV (and Cedar Mill) aligned with Sunset High School helps with the overall picture.
3. Respect the process. The boundary adjustment impacts the whole community and will result in some uncomfortable and unwanted change in many households. So the first temptation might be to “give ‘em a piece of your mind”. Please resist that temptation. Not only does it not help our community work toward a solution, but it will ensure your comments get ignored.
Put yourself in their shoes. Would you want to read letter letter suggesting you have no idea what you are doing and your ideas are stupid? Or, would you want people in the community helping you see the issues in a new light, give you facts you might not know, or suggest alternatives for solving the problem? Be a help, not a hinderance, in the process. No one person is an expert. It takes all of us.
4. Tell your story. This document sheds some light on the issues that impact our community which we hope will give you a starting point, but your individual story is important as well. Education is about giving every child an opportunity to succeed. Tell your story. Make it personal. But also make sure to connect to the bigger picture.
Email your letters to:
West TV Community Issues
Of the criteria published by the Beaverton School District, the West TV community considers the following to be the most important based on what we’ve learned so far. Here is what we have found.
Safety and Transportation
A member of our West TV community who works with public transportation issues consulted with a land use planner, formerly of Washington County, and two traffic engineers to assess the transportation situation. One of the traffic engineers was also involved in the traffic assessment completed for the new South Cooper Mountain High School. They concurred that from a traffic and safety perspective it makes more sense to keep our neighborhood traffic going to Sunset High School.
And they are not the only ones. Even Beaverton Principal Anne Erwin thinks that the transportation issue from north of Highway 26 to Beaverton High School is a weakness of the Springboard proposal, per her quote in the November 6, 2015, article on OregonLive.
The published criteria of the Boundary Committee separates transportation and safety, but we see the safety issue being related to the transportation problem (as opposed to being a crime issue), so we’ll address them together.
Anyone who lives north of Highway 26 knows the traffic toward Beaverton High School is an issue. We factor it into our commute, businesses, activities and errands – and we know all the neighborhood backroads we can use to avoid the main routes. Some of those even have speed bumps to dissuade people like us from using them. Sending students from the West TV area will only make it worse.
• Highways: The traffic volume from the “Sylvan Highlands” area that includes the Highway 26/217 interchange is notoriously high and we have the data to back it up. Backups and delays are a daily occurrence regardless of the weather conditions and even time-of-day.
• Major Roads: According to data from ODOT, Washington County and the City of Beaverton, traffic volumes on Cornell and Barnes Road are anywhere from 10 to 50% less than the routes to Beaverton High School.
• The data confirms what we already knew: The route to Beaverton High School takes longer and has significantly more delays than the route to Sunset. A number of our parents have driven both routes during the times our students would be traveling them and reported the trip taking a minimum of 50% longer, and usually more, to get to BHS. This doesn’t even factor in the commute to after-school activities such as sports, band, drama, and other activities scheduled for the evening commute time and involving lots of students and trips.
• In summary, Highway 26 is a natural transportation boundary for our community allowing for east-west driving patterns that are less congested and flow opposite of the commute patterns. By leaving our area aligned with Sunset High School, the Beaverton School District can avoid contributing to regional congestion, save on transportation costs, limit impacts to the school start, and otherwise help the transportation challenges of our area rather than making them worse.
The safety issue is directly related to the transportation problem outlined above. Highway 26 creates a transportation barrier between the West TV area and the City of Beaverton. There are two primary routes drivers travel between the two areas – and both are extremely busy creating a safety problem.
• Highway 217 southbound during the morning commute is chaos — especially for a young driver. The merging of three feeders (Hwy 26 east, north, and west) creates zig-zagging traffic as people enter the freeway and jockey for position in the lane they need to be in. This frequently results in stop-and-go traffic no matter the weather. And parents who are teaching their kids how to drive generally avoid this until they are confident their child can handle the complexity.
• Cedar Hills Blvd has 2.5 times more accidents than Cornell Road – and that doesn’t even include the Highway 26/Cedar Hills Blvd interchange that has been the focus of recent television and news articles for its dangerous, unsignaled conditions.
• The commute to Sunset High School is much less treacherous. Students have the option of using Hwy 26 which has an easy on-ramp feeding a lane that is dedicated to the Murray Blvd exit to get to school. They can also use Barnes Road to Cornell, or take Cornell Road all the way from the Cedar Mill elementary school area. All of these routes go against the business commuting patterns, have low accident rates, and are very manageable for new drivers. After all, these are the routes where we teach them how to drive when they are 15.
Availability of space
We recognize the availability of space is the driving factor behind the new school and the adjustment of the boundaries – and that Westview and Sunset need to be relieved of overcrowding problems. The question is what is more important: Equity or Overcrowding?
• The Beaverton School District published a map of the free/reduced lunch concentrations in the district so we can understand the nature of our population distribution. It is really helpful to see the economic picture in our district so we can make sure we give every child the opportunity for a quality education.
• But even that criteria does not solve the problem of the Westview and Sunset communities. Development at the northern edge of both high school areas will continue to put pressure on schools that will be at 97 percent capacity on day 1 of the Springboard Proposal, if adopted.
• If the objective is for the district to be at 90 percent capacity for all schools, then it does not make sense to shift both Oak Hills (613 students) and Elmonica (587 students) to the Sunset district and move historically small West TV (333 students) and part of the Cedar Mill school area to Beaverton.
The district can preserve more capacity for growth by keeping the West TV and Cedar Mill neighborhoods, and locating Elmonica students in Beaverton, which is benefiting demographically from the addition of Raleigh Park, Ridgewood and Walker elementary schools and has more flexibility for territory swaps with Aloha and Southridge. After all, isn’t that the reason for building the new school and shifting the boundaries south to populate it?
Minimize Transitions for Students
The West TV community believes the Springboard Proposal maximizes educational disruption for our students and, therefore, goes against the superintendent’s objective for minimizing transitions for students.
• We know that from a social perspective, the students at West TV and Cedar Park today will have plenty of friends that go to Sunset and Beaverton and that they will be fine either way. But, academically, the future holds significantly different paths for them.
• The curriculum at West TV elementary is designed to prepare students for the Middle Years Program (MYP) at Cedar Park Middle School, which is designed to get students read for the International Baccalaureate (IB) program at Sunset. Any change to that path disrupts the continuity of the educational process that is preparing these students for success after high school. The parents in this area believe strongly in the IB curriculum including a number that sent their students to ISB so they can be better prepared for the rigor of the Sunset experience.
• It is our understanding that, ultimately, students in the West TV and Cedar Mill area will likely go to the new middle school being built off NW 118th. If this is the case, which makes sense that it is, it reinforces the fact that the area north of Highway 26 is naturally oriented toward Sunset High School. And we hope the new middle school continues the path toward IB excellence.
Ours is a community that emphasizes academics in our kids’ lives, gets involved in our schools, and choses to live here because the schools are excellent – from West TV to Cedar Park to Sunset High. It is the foundation of our community.
• School Performance: We applaud the efforts of BSD to achieve high performance across the district, but we live where we live because Sunset is a great school – and has been for a long time.
• State Standards: The percentage of students who exceed state standards at Sunset is outstanding. The 2015 scores are published on OregonLive.
• Great Schools: The website greatschools.org gives Sunset High School a rating of 9 out of 10 – the best in the district.
• Graduation Rate: In 2014, the Sunset graduation rate was 83% and its record of sending students on to higher education is impressive.
• International Baccalaureate Program: West TV students enjoy an educational experience that takes them through the Middle Years Program at Cedar Park to the International Baccalaureate program at Sunset. Even students outside of the Sunset area today transfer to Sunset to take IB courses and/or pursue the IB certificate because they know it will give them an advantage when the graduate.