Pasco parents question high school boundaries

Pasco parents question high school boundaries »Play Video
PASCO, Wash. -- Same issue, different school – A group of concerned parents went to Pasco school board’s Tuesday meeting, saying they want changes made to the high school districts. They say the current districts don't make sense, splitting families and worse they say, causing many to leave Pasco for Kennewick or Richland.

“It's these boundaries that are dividing our cities and perhaps the greatest divide is found between parents and the school district," said one Pasco parent, speaking first and representing a group of 200. “We are not here to be your enemies,” continued the mother. “We are parents showing up to make things better."

There's no denying, Pasco has the most diverse district in the tri-cities and you could make an argument for the most divided as well – East versus West.

The group of parents wasn’t there about the elementary boundaries, Pasco just figured that out this spring. It's a similar fight affecting many of the same families, the high school boundaries.

“Families usually end up doing one of the following, falsifying information so they can attend Chiawana, the closer and perceived better school, they enroll in outside district, or move,” said parent Erin Lewis. “We're seeing families move out of our neighborhood in droves and we want that to stop.”

Lewis says the basis for the boundaries, to even the playing field, doesn't work anymore. “We're losing strong families with parents who care about their children's education greatly," she said. More than 200 people have joined a Facebook page dedicated to a discussion about boundaries changing for Pasco High and Chiawana.

The parents say middle and elementary school friendships are lost, with the busing, and with it a valuable part of the education process. But one lone voice, who happened to be a recent Pasco High grad, spoke against the majority.

“I’ve had a greater cultural enrichment and greater appreciation for different aspects of Pasco," said Haley Perdue. She says she didn’t want to attend Pasco High at first, but realizes now why it is so important. Perdue says if you want your kids to excel, putting them outside their comfort zone is the key. She said it’s important to have families with parents involved in both schools, to lift the community as a whole.

KEPR spoke with the school board vice president who said this decision “takes a serious amount of time and consideration.” Ryan Brault said they understand the concerns of the parents, but also have to do what's best for the 17,000 students enrolled in PSD. He said although there won’t be a fix by next year, he says families could expect a response from the district by the end of this school year.