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Board gets final boundary proposal

llahee Junior High School students and a third of Kilo Junior High students can expect to attend Federal Way’s new high school when it opens its doors in 2006.

The school district’s Boundary Review Committee has presented the Federal Way School Board with a final recommendation for school boundaries that outlines which junior highs and high schools students will attend when the new high school opens and the district switches to a middle school system.

The board heard a first reading of the recommendation Tuesday and will hear a second reading June 11. Directors are expected to vote on the recommendation at their June 25 meeting.

The final recommendation includes adjustments made for students who live within walking distance of their high schools but were slated under an earlier plan to catch a bus to a different high school.

Committee members tried to limit the number of junior high splits necessary to fill each high school to capacity, but some junior highs will be broken up.

Under the committee’s current recommendation:

• 66 percent of Lakota Junior High students will go to Decatur High School and 34 percent will go to Federal Way High.

• 100 percent of Saghalie students will continue on to Decatur;

• 100 percent of Illahee students will go to the new high school;

• 100 percent of Sacajawea students will continue on to Federal Way High School;

• 66 percent of Kilo students will go to Thomas Jefferson and 34 percent will go to the new high school;

• 83 percent of Totem Junior High students will go to Thomas Jefferson and 17 percent will go to Federal Way High.

Cheryl Sigafoos’ daughter is one of about 50 who would be transferred from Totem to Federal Way High School instead of Thomas Jefferson.

Sigafoos told the School Board the recommendation isn’t fair to the small percentage of kids moved from their friends and teammates to a new school full of strangers.

“Everything is numbers,” she said. “I just want to remind people making the boundary decision that those numbers are our kids.”

Board president Earl VanDorien said he’s heard some complaints from parents, but they’ve been a small percentage of the number of parents in the district.

He lauded the committee for its work tackling the boundary changes and said no decision would have made everyone happy.

“I think the solution they have is workable,” he said. “Our job is to make sure it’s the best plan for the district as a whole.”

VanDorien added that the Choice program is still an option for students wishing to attend schools outside their boundaries.

In addition to distributing students among the high schools equally, the committee tried to preserve diverse student populations in each school.

The district’s ethnic student population average is about 37 percent. Under the proposal, Decatur will have a 36 percent minority student population, Federal Way will have about 41 percent, Thomas Jefferson 35 percent and the new high school 37 percent.

About 31 percent of the district’s students live at or below poverty level. Under the committee’s proposal, Decatur will have about 27 percent poverty-level students, Federal Way High will have about 38 percent, Thomas Jefferson 36 percent and the new high school will have about 25 percent.

Junior and senior high schools will be overcrowded for a couple years as the district makes the transition to the new system, committee members said, but the proposal will allow juniors and seniors to opt to stay at their high schools.

The district will double up on bus service in some neighborhoods during the 2003-04 and 2004-05 years, most likely with one bus being sufficient to service each high school. District officials estimate the cost will be about $20,000.

District finance director Sally McLean, who has helped lead the Boundary Review Committee, said the group “has done a tremendous job of representing the district as a whole.”

VanDorien agreed, calling the effort “a great job by a great staff that spent a great deal of time, blood, sweat and tears to get the best plan.”

The committee’s final recommendation can be viewed online at the district’s Web site, at www.fwsd.wednet.edu/info/schools/boundaries/review.

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