District announces hiring of principal; revises attendance boundaries for elementary schools

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - The St. Helens School District school board during a meeeting Tuesday, May 16, discusses potential attendance boundaries for the elementary schools in fall when Columbia City Elementary School. The board has revised and tweaked plans since late April and will likely approve a final version at next week's regular board meeting.Plans for reopening of Columbia City Elementary School in the St. Helens School District are progressing as the school board moves closer to finalizing attendance boundaries, and the district announced the hiring of a principal for the building this week.

While the boundaries for the district may not be set yet, Superintendent Scot Stockwell announced the hiring of Jennifer Vanderschuere as the building's new principal Tuesday in an email to the Spotlight.

Vanderschuere currently works in the Beaverton School District as the vice principal at Springville K-8, which has been open since 2008. She was part of the planning team that opened the school and worked as a third-

grade teacher there, according to her biography on the school's website. Vanderschuere has been teaching

for more than 27 years and has spent 11 of them in the Beaverton School District.

During a school board spring retreat Tuesday, May 16, the board spent an hour and a half modifying and tweaking several boundary plans that were presented to them last week.

A special work group and committee was set up to outline boundaries that balance school sizes, retain community links to nearby schools, and ensure the even distribution of students based on defined socio-economic status or SES. Those plans have been brought to the board several times. The first discussions about boundary proposals were held at an April 26 school board meeting.

Much of the mapping was done through an interactive application that plots clusters of students in certain areas using property parcel boundaries as the primary guidelines. While reviewing the proposals, some board members were frustrated that the maps didn't clearly follow major roadways, like Pittsburg, Smith and Robinette roads.

Board member Kellie Smith expressed concerns about where bus routes would pick up students and whether or not the buses would be driving through congested intersections like Highway 30 and Gable Road.

Board member Bill Amos said the newly proposed boundaries showed more balance than previous proposals and allowed for potential growth. Amos also noted that no plan would please everyone, however.

After various tweaks to the potential boundaries, the board agreed to review two plans called "Q" and "R." Those plans maintain enrollment at McBride close to 540 students, Lewis and Clark in a range of 530 to 560, and Columbia City between 240 and 270. Digital copies of the maps can be found on the district website at

The board is expected to finalize and approve one of the plans at its school board meeting Wednesday, May 24.

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