Opinion

Our Voice: Boundary discussion brings parents, district together

A wish of many school districts is more parental involvement. This involvement can come in many ways. One grass-roots group, Pasco Parents for Neighborhood Schools, has piqued our interest.

It is a Facebook group with a mission: "A 'think tank' to discuss school boundaries with the goal of working with the Pasco School District to make our schools more family friendly."

We love two words in that statement: "working with." The idea of parents "working with" the schools gives us hope.

And the group seems to be getting a little traction lately.

The main issue for these parents is school boundaries, which in truth don't seem logical. It is not unusual for Pasco students to live closer to one school, but live in the boundaries for a different one.

This happens in all grades and is especially pronounced at the high school level where students who live on the far east end of Pasco are bused to Chiawana High, while students who live closer to Chiawana are sent to Pasco High.

We understand the complexities, considerations and constraints that went into establishing the current boundaries. And, at this point, we are unwilling to second guess the administrators who were tasked with drawing those lines on the map.

But we do congratulate the parents for coming together and voicing their concerns.

What impresses us the most about this particular group is the caliber of their arguments.

For the most part, this is an especially thoughtful group. It cites cases of law to support its concerns. And although you can't control every individual post or letter, in general, members' comments are considerate.

Unfortunately the waters are muddied a little from an underlying perception that one school is "better" than another. And although some of the families may be using that wedge as leverage, it's not what the group is about.

We can see a parent's frustration of driving past a school to get to their child's school. But we also understand the administrators' plight.

Pasco has grown over the past couple of decades -- and grown quickly. Last year, the school district was using 180 portable classrooms. And even with the opening of a new elementary school this fall, student enrollment typically outpaces what it is able to build.

High school boundaries have been a little bit of a Pasco sore spot since Chiawana High opened in fall 2009. This is the first time an organized group has forced the discussion.

There is no question that students fare better when schools and parents work together. We hope this exercise in writing to school board members and attending school board meetings leads more parents to be active in the educational process.

That's a situation where every student wins.

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