Irvine Unified School District’s Board of Education approved a boundary adjustment on Dec. 12 in order to alleviate projected crowding at Portola High and Jeffrey Trail Middle School. The adjustments will take effect in August 2019 for the Stonegate and Los Olivos communities (students currently enrolled in any school will not be affected). The boundaries distinguish which school a student will attend based on the student’s home address within the community boundaries.
“This adjustment will keep the Stonegate Elementary School community cohort together and beginning in 2019, change the attendance areas from Portola High School to Northwood High School and from Jeffrey Trail Middle School to Sierra Vista Middle School,” IUSD Director of Secondary Education Keith Tuominen said in a letter to IUSD parents. “The Board also voted to adjust boundaries for students from the Los Olivos community from Portola High School to University High School.”
The population of both Portola High and Jeffrey Trail Middle School was predicted to surpass each school’s capacity in 2019. As a result, IUSD formed a 36-person Boundary Advisory Committee (BAC) comprised of principals, teachers, parents and students from any high school and middle school that could be impacted by boundary changes.
During the BAC meetings, which began in August 2017, four possible boundary options were formulated and reviewed.
“We want to make sure that students’ experiences are cohesive from level-to-level so that they stay with their friends from elementary to middle to high and build those relationships, and we also want them not to have to travel too far,” social studies department chair and BAC member Jon Resendez said. “So we are trying to balance all of those things and so we have a rubric, and we go over each option, and we discuss it, and we apply the rubric, and then we have different working groups, and we share our answers and we norm it.”
The four options were sent out to the Irvine community. Three parent meetings were held at the Venado (Nov. 13), Sierra Vista (Nov. 15) and Jeffrey Trail (Nov. 16) Middle Schools that were open to the public, where several parents commented on how they felt about the options.
“The feedback [from parents] came back to the advisory committee, so we took into account their feedback, so we got all of it summarized for us, and then we narrowed the options down further to two [options], and then we sent that to the Superintendent’s Cabinet,” Resendez said. “They went over our options and narrowed it down to one, and then the Superintendent presented one option to the School Board, who makes the final decision. They chose what ended up being option one.”
The School Board meetings were also made open to the public. Despite currently enrolled students not changing schools, the new boundaries may affect some aspects on campus, such as reducing class sizes.
“Overcrowded classrooms lead to a less effective learning experience for the students,” BAC member and parent Rashmi Kini said. “Also, it’s important to remember that the numbers aren’t just numbers; they are kids. K-12 school experiences help to shape a child.”