The Hillsboro School District's plan for which students to send to Atfalati Ridge Elementary School has been set.
Construction on the new school, located in east North Plains, is expected to be completed this summer, allowing students to start attending the school in the fall. The school was funded using money from a $408 million capital construction bond, which voters passed in 2017.
School district board members approved the boundary for the new school at their meeting April 27, finalizing how many students from North Plains Elementary School will move to the new school, and where future students in the area will go.
North Plains, which has already seen its population increase by 50% in less than 10 years, is expected to continue growing rapidly as multiple housing developments with hundreds of homes are built out, including along its eastern edge near the school.
A boundary adjustment committee, comprised of school board members Mark Watson and Jaci Spross, three North Plains-area parents, the principals of Atfalati Ridge and North Plains elementary schools, and district staff, met three times starting in February to deliberate about the district's proposed boundary before a final proposal went to the board.
The boundary adjustment process didn't face many roadblocks in part because the area is still relatively undeveloped and rural, allowing district officials to avoid cutting through dense neighborhoods when drawing boundary lines, said Adam Stewart, capital projects officer for the district.
"This was the smoothest (boundary adjustment) process I've been through," Stewart said, adding that throughout the committee's review, only minor changes were made to the original proposed boundaries.
The finalized boundaries generally split the current North Plains Elementary attendance area at Highway 26, Northwest Glencoe Road and Northwest Pumpkin Ridge Road.
Students to the north of Highway 26, west of Glencoe Road and roads west of Pumpkin Ridge Road will continue attending North Plains Elementary.
Students to the south of 26, east of Glencoe Road, along both sides of Pumpkin Ridge Road and east of it will attend Atfalati Ridge Elementary. A small portion of Patterson Elementary School's attendance area, which doesn't currently have any district students, was also included to smooth out the boundary lines.
About 200 kids from North Plains Elementary will move to Atfalati Ridge Elementary next year, splitting enrollment evenly.
A survey asking families for feedback on the proposed boundaries only received seven responses.
Three parents said they "strongly disliked" the proposed boundary, one parent marked "neutral" and three other parents said they either "like" or "strongly like" it.
Comments from parents who disliked the proposed boundary showed frustration about not having the final say in where their kid goes to school. They also questioned why all kids in the area couldn't go to the new school while planned renovations take place at North Plains Elementary.
In response, district officials pointed parents who either don't want their kid to change schools or want to go to the new school to the district's normal transfer process.
They also said costs of moving staff, changing bus routes and moving programs housed at North Plains Elementary prevent them from having all kids in the area attend Atfalati Ridge Elementary.
Stewart said parents also had concerns about their kids being moved to the new school but going to child care near the old school. The district plans to provide transportation to kids who need child care away from their school, he said.
The district hired a demography firm to project population growth, and officials calculated the projections into how they drew the boundaries. The firm's projections forecast seven years into the future, factoring in expected housing growth.
Stewart said he's confident the adopted boundary will effectively manage new enrollments between the two schools as the city grows.
The demography firm couldn't factor in the possibility that North Plains' urban growth boundary expands during that time, however — something city officials are currently exploring — which could allow for unanticipated population growth.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.