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School district officials suggest more changes could be on horizon as enrollment levels out

TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Students rush out of Springville K-8 School in Beaverton. The school is one of two K-8 campuses in the Beaverton School District that will do away with the K-8 model.Leaders at Beaverton schools say eighth-graders shouldn't attend the same school as kindergarteners if they want to be prepared for high school.

Two of the three K-8 sites in the Beaverton School District, Raleigh Hills and Springville schools, announced plans to phase out middle schoolers starting next school year.

Principals at both schools, along with district officials, notified parents of the plans in writing in late September.

"The district has been evaluating the best way to provide a common middle school experience for all of our students," a letter from the Beaverton School District to parents stated. "K-8 schools are currently staffed and supervised in the elementary school model, meaning the curricular programs are based on elementary core requirements, rather than middle school requirements."

There are other constraints. Springville has run out of classroom space, according to administrators there.

The Beaverton School District will begin transitioning the campuses to K-5 schools beginning in 2020-21 by allowing middle school-level students in on an application basis. The district is now accepting applications until Dec. 6 for students to attend sixth through eighth grades at the two schools next year.

By 2020-21, there will be no more sixth-graders at the site, officials say. The district plans to fully phase out middle school grades at the two schools by 2023-24.

This isn't the first time the school district has looked to ax middle-schoolers from Springville.

In 2015, in an attempt to address overcrowding at the campus, the school board made plans to remove sixth-graders, before opting to temporarily move all middle-schoolers to a new campus altogether. They were eventually moved back to the current campus.

Springville's campus is only a decade old. It was opened in 2009 as the district's third K-8 school.

Raleigh Hills and Springville are two of three K-8 schools in the district. Aloha-Huber Park, a dual-language-program school, will keep its format for now.

"We've got parents that want to have a middle school program in the K-8, and we can't do that," said Maureen Wheeler, public information officer for the district. "We can't monetarily do it. We're doing a whole look at the comprehensive middle school programs."

K-8 schools might not be the only ones being phased out. District officials say there are no plans to close any schools as of now, but they will re-evaluate their current inventory to determine whether Beaverton can continue to offer the same number of schools, considering flat or declining enrollment levels.

"Quite honestly, we're gonna have to engage in conversations over the next few years," Carl Mead, deputy superintendent, said during an August school board work session. "As we plan for the next bond, it does not make sense for us to continue with 54 individual sites."

When the Beaverton School District went out for bonds in previous years, it cited the need for safety upgrades and increased capacity.

"We were a growing district for a long time," Wheeler noted. That has changed, with students leaving for neighboring districts, or choosing to attend home school and online academies.

"It's something that the district is going to look at as part of the long-range facilities planning," Wheeler added.

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