The Temecula Valley Unified School District school board is weighing its options in a proposal to shift middle and high school boundaries.
District officials say there has been a slow but steady turnout at several community meetings held to discuss the proposed boundary changes that will affect incoming sixth and ninth graders in the next school year.
According to the board’s summary of proposals, the change would reduce home-to- school transportation time for middle and high schoolers, reduce transfers, plan for further growth in certain areas and balance enrollment. Its current high school boundaries are based on the construction of a fourth high school, which has been delayed for a minimum of five years.
The number of community members attending each of the three meetings held by the district thus far has been 20 and 30 people per meeting, according to Melanie Norton, spokesperson for the district. The last two meetings are scheduled for Oct. 14 and Nov. 4.
“It is a crucial time for people to come forward. We wouldn’t want people coming out of the woodwork after the Governing Board has voted in January,” Norton said. “There are still some board members who are undecided and are hoping to hear more feedback.”
According to Norton, it is an emotional issue for many parents.
“People who are against the change are very passionate about having the boundaries remain the same, like those with students currently going to Chaparral but would be switching to Temecula Valley,” Norton said. “They have suggested we grandfather in entire families.”
Other residents expressing concern are those who live in the neighborhood of Crowne Hill. Located near Butterfield Stage Road and Highway 79 South in Temecula, its students currently attend Vail Ranch Middle School and Great Oak High School, but if the Governing Board proceeds with the changes they would be redistricted to Temecula Valley High School.
Jeri Ognjanac, president at Crowne Hill Elementary PTA, said she plans to voice her concerns at the Oct. 14 meeting at Vail Ranch Middle School. Her seventh grade son would have to attend high school apart from the core group of kids he has grown up with, and her fifth grade daughter would go on to middle school with the same kids, but then be split up in high school.
Ognjanac said even though her kids were younger when they moved to Crowne Hill from Orange County, part of the reason they chose the neighborhood was because of the schools.
“But ultimately, it’s not an issue of which is the better school; it’s about the kids. My kids are worried. These are kids they have played football with and we’ve carpooled with for years. These are their best friends,” Ognjanac said. “I want my kids to go with them.”
As any other parent might be, she said she is concerned about her kids having to adjust to a new school and group of friends during their teenage years.
Even though most of the parents coming to the meetings are opposing the changes, a small minority of residents support them, Norton said.
“The ones that really want to see it happen live in French Valley,” Norton said.
French Valley students would be able to attend Chaparral High School. They currently drive past Chaparral every day to get to school at Temecula Valley.
A summary of proposals along with maps of the possible boundary changes are available in pdf format on the district’s Web site, as well as a full list of streets to be impacted by the change.
The proposal for middle school boundaries includes one option, whereas the high school proposal gives the board and community five options. Of the five options, only the third option would leave the boundaries as they are, with students in Crowne Hill attending Great Oak.
The district is encouraging parents to attend one of the two final community meetings, to be held at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 14 at Vail Ranch Middle School, and at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 4 at Bella Vista Middle School.
The board plans to discuss and review community input during November and December, and take action by Jan. 19.
Sibling transfer issues are also addressed in the proposal, and the district wants to give parents the time to apply for transfers. Applications for intra-district transfers will be accepted Jan. 20 through March 1.
Maggie Avants is the education editor for SWRNN. Comments or story suggestions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.