Speak your piece about Everett high school boundaries this week

More than 200 written comments, many from Jackson High families, have poured in since mid January.

EVERETT — The chance to speak up is now.

Two public forums this week could provide important feedback as a boundary advisory committee considers how best to move hundreds of high school students to different campuses. The Everett School District needs to redistribute students because of increasingly overcrowded conditions in the south end.

There’s clearly keen interest in the issue.

Since Jan. 14, school leaders have received 205 comments through email or the district’s website.

Most have come from people within the current Henry M. Jackson High School attendance boundaries, said Mike Gunn, the district’s executive director of facilities and operations. Jackson is about 375 students over capacity and projections are for the overcrowded conditions to continue.

The idea has been to shift hundreds of students from Jackson to Cascade High School and others from Cascade to Everett High School. The 30-member boundary committee — composed of parents, students and administrators — was formed last summer.

In general terms, preliminary recommendations suggest moving students living in neighborhoods near Thomas Lake, south of 132nd SE and east of 35th Avenue, from Jackson to Cascade.

Students in the Pinehurst and Valley View neighborhoods and living near Jefferson Elementary School would be the most likely to be moved from Cascade to Everett, according to the preliminary maps.

Families will have a chance to get a closer look at those 2-by-3-foot maps at forums Feb. 6 at Gateway Middle School and Feb. 7 at Cascade. Both sessions are scheduled for 90 minutes and begin at 6 p.m.

“The primary focus of the meeting is to allow the community to see enlarged maps of the proposed boundary change and then to give us their feedback or tell us their concerns or questions about the proposal,” Gunn said. “Our job that evening is primarily to listen.”

The recent written comments echoed ones from earlier gatherings in November, Gunn said.

“People are concerned about moving to attend a school farther away than the one they are currently attending, longer commute times and more traffic,” he said. “A lot say they would like to stay where they are.”

The boundary committee will review the feedback and is expected to make its final recommendation to the Everett School Board by March 31. The school board is supposed to decide on the issue by next fall.

One question, whether high school seniors can stay at their home school, still must be resolved. District policy and state law must be followed, Gunn said.

The district has pondered asking voters to consider a bond measure for new schools in 2020. That would include another comprehensive high school in the south end. Even if that tax proposal were to pass, it’s likely high school boundaries would need to shift in the interim.

Any changes would not take effect until the fall of 2020.

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446; stevick@heraldnet.com.

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