Letters to the Editor

School district: School busing displaces students

I feel betrayed, and I am not alone. The Oak Harbor School District has just adopted a boundary/transportation plan that will throw the lives of many families into turmoil without attempting to minimize the damage.

I am talking specifically about their decision to bus middle school students from the north end of the district to the southern Oak Harbor Middle School while busing students from the south end of the district to the northern middle school, North Whidbey.

This change would cause students presently attending both schools to be displaced, a change that is not necessary to balance out enrollment numbers. According to a boundary/transportation committee member survey (which was used to establish their decision making criteria), “where possible, we will assign students to the closest school to their home” received the highest agreement rating from the committee members. Of the many criteria chosen, this was the one that the largest number of members “strongly agreed” with.

By sending the middle school students living closest to Coupeville north to North Whidbey Middle School, and by sending students living closest to Deception Pass south to Oak Harbor Middle School, the committee is acting against their own criteria for decision making! Why the flip-flop? Why can’t the students remain at the school closest to home? What is gained by disrupting the maximum number of lives?

The district attempts to pacify parents with the promise of intradistrict transfers. This will be on a space available basis and no one knows how many requests will be granted. Because of the district’s lack of concern over the number of families affected, I believe they will be inundated with far more requests than they could possibly honor. Also, any request that is honored will require parents to provide transportation for their children to and from school.

I must applaud Kathy Jones, school board president, as being the only school board member present who was not willing to adopt the committee’s plan without first knowing the number of the families affected. This is a very compassionate and pragmatic view point. With the district so desperately in need of levy funds it cannot afford to anger its major supporters, its parents.

The minutes of the April 18 Boundary/Transportation Committee meeting state “we need to be fair to all kids.” I believe the committee missed the mark on that objective. Why was every effort made to allow elementary school students to attend the school closest to their home while apparently no effort was made to grant the same right to our middle school students?

Boundary/transportation decisions should be fair, consistent, and designed with the minimum amount of negative impact necessary to get the job done. Please try again.

Katie Chesnut

Oak Harbor

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