Latest proposal for high school boundary changes presented to Board of Education

The IUSD Board of Education engaged in a special study session this week to discuss proposed changes to the district’s high school attendance boundaries.

As we’ve reported previously, planning for Irvine’s fifth comprehensive high school necessitates a modest boundary reconfiguration in time for the campus’ projected opening in the fall of 2016. Though most IUSD families won’t be affected, changes could impact some Irvine students who are currently enrolled in kindergarten through the sixth grade, as well as currently enrolled kindergarten through seventh-grade students who live within the boundaries proposed for the fifth high school.

Back on March 4, Tony Ferruzzo, a facilities consultant and former IUSD principal, unveiled an initial recommendation for boundary changes made by the district’s Boundary Advisory Committee, which includes one principal, one teacher, one student and two parents from each of IUSD’s comprehensive high schools, along with district staff.

That recommendation generated discussion by the board and was later the subject of four parent forums. On Tuesday, May 27, Ferruzzo returned to board with a revised proposal based on the latest community input.

Board members are expected to take action on July 8, though any changes wouldn’t take effect until the 2016-17 school year. [Update: The board is not expected to take action on proposed boundary changes until Aug. 19 at the earliest.] In the meantime, a map of the current recommendation is posted below, and here are a few of our takeaways from Tuesday’s session:

  • Under the revised recommendation, students from Irvine’s Laguna Altura community would continue to send their children to University High School rather than the new high school campus. In addition, a non-contiguous portion of the Stone Creek Elementary School attendance area would remain in the Woodbridge High boundary, along with the rest of Stone Creek.
  • Current high school students and those who will start high school in the fall won’t be impacted either way. That’s because the youngest will already be in the 11th and 12th grades before any changes take effect. Again, even though the board is expected to take action on July 8, altered boundaries in Irvine wouldn’t take effect until August 2016 at the earliest.
  • IUSD is growing – and fast. Without a fifth comprehensive high school, moderate projections indicate Northwood High’s student population would swell to 3,140 by 2017. Irvine High would similarly expand to 2,946 students, University High would grow to 2,842 students and Woodbridge High would hit 2,488, which is still above the district’s maximum enrollment target for high schools.
  • There are essentially three enrollment options for opening the fifth high school. The district could require all ninth- and tenth-graders living within the school’s attendance area to enroll. Or it could start with just ninth-graders. Or it could require ninth-graders to enroll but give tenth-graders a choice. Each of these options has its pros and cons, but the Boundary Advisory Committee is recommending the first scenario — requiring freshmen and sophomores to attend — because that would ensure a viable enrollment and a comprehensive program for all students. The final decision will ultimately be made by the Board of Education.
  • Ferruzzo said the work of the Boundary Advisory Committee was based on an established criteria, along with guiding values. For example, in addition to creating a viable enrollment for the fifth high school, committee members sought to balance long-term student enrollment across all five high schools while doing their best to keep students from smaller communities together as they transition to middle and high school.

You can take a look at detailed slides from Tuesday night’s presentation by clicking here. And here’s a map of the current proposal. (Click to enlarge.)

Revised high school boundary proposal from May 27