New High School Needed, but Wanted?

With the construction of a new high school in the Beaverton School District comes more than just the change of a few lines on a map.  This high school, being built in the South Cooper Mountain neighbourhood, is scheduled to open by Fall 2017 for incoming high school students.  Not only will this new school affect students currently attending Southridge, the closest high school to South Cooper Mountain, but it will also affect the boundary lines for all of the high schools in the district.  There has been much debate by the parents in this district concerning longer commutes to and from school, transferring students to a new school, having attended and establishing themselves in their current high school, and the safety concerns regarding travelling on busy roads to get to school; this is a particular issue with the traffic on Scholls Ferry Road, an access road for this new school.  As Robert Manning reported in April of this year on OPB, “A new South Cooper Mountain High School at the southern end of the Beaverton district would directly affect Aloha, Southridge and Beaverton high school areas. There are also domino effects far to the north, with students in parts of the Westview area attending school at Aloha”.
Current boundary [current high school boundary lines before new high school built]
School district lines [redrawn high school boundaries including the new high school]
There are currently instances of students attending school within their boundary that is in fact a longer commute than a school outside their boundary.  This issue may be exacerbated by the addition of this new high school and the redrawing of the boundary lines.  More students may be closer to their current high school but will need to transfer to another high school (whether that be South Cooper Mountain High or another one in the district) due to these new boundary lines.  For example, in the above figure, students could in fact end up residing closer to Southridge or Aloha, or even Beaverton, high school, but will need to transfer to the new high school.  Just imagine the effect this will have on incoming sophomores who have only just established themselves in their current high school, or even current sophomores who have already fully integrated themselves in their current high school, possibly already having joined a sports team or after-school club at their current school.

However, this new high school is not only a concern to the parents; it is also a concern for coaches of the sports teams at the other 5 high schools and the predicted loss of athletes to other schools within the district.  There is much discussion about how the new school will not only affect the members of the teams but also the high school sports standings in the district.  With four artificial turf fields, the new high school will have the best sport facilities amongst the six in the district.  Bob Boyer, football coach at Beaverton High School made a comment to Mike Tokito of The Oregonian saying, “Kids are going to look at that and say, ‘Oh my goodness, that’s the best school to go to”.   Therefore, the new South Cooper Mountain High School could not only bring in top notch athletes from the other schools in the district, but could also be placed above the other schools in the training of their athletes with these newer facilities.  More about how the new high school will affect the athletic programmes at the other five high schools can be found in the article published in The Oregonian, October 22 2015 by Mike Tokito, “New Beaverton school figures to shake up Metro League and all Class 6A when it opens in 2017-18”. http://highschoolsports.oregonlive.com/news/article/2811387490601797654/new-beaverton-school-figures-to-shake-up-metro-league-and-all-class-6a-when-it-opens-in-2017-18/

In addition, if the trends of student population growth are any indication, by 2025, there is predicted to be another 2,000 high school students attending school in the Beaverton School District, bringing the total number of high school students to over 12,000.  Currently, the only high school that is not at or above capacity is Beaverton High School, with 75% capacity, and Westview High School which currently has well over 2,000 students already.  Therefore, there is no doubt that there is a need for an additional high school in the district, but this addition will not be without struggles along the way.  As was reported in the Oregonian in 2014, “The new high school, with capacity for 2,200 kids, is projected to hold the district for 8 to 10 years, based on enrolment forecasts.  It will cost taxpayers about $109 million to build and furnish”.  The placement of the new high school in the South Cooper Mountain neighbourhood is intended to balance out the district, with 2 schools in the north, 2 in the middle, and 2 in the south of the district boundary.  Currently, the new high school will only affect the high school boundaries, but there is discussion about bringing about changes to the middle and primary school boundaries in upcoming years.  All in all, although this new high school is in fact needed to accept the increasing number of high school students within the Beaverton School District, the debates and discussions that occurred even before construction began, not to mention the discussions that are ongoing, have brought up very important points that not only affect the students’ social lives, but also their safety.  Hopefully, once the high school is completed and established, the debate will die down and the long awaited addition to the Beaverton School District will be accepted with ‘open arms’, allowing students to feel right at home in their new school.

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