Neighborhood petitions to leave district Families want shorter commutes

Every school day, a mother in Redmond’s Broadhurst community watches a Lake Washington School District bus drive past her home; it picks up students in the neighboring Canyon Creek community, and takes them less than four miles to Alcott Elementary School. Then she puts her own daughter on a Snoqualmie Valley School District bus headed to Fall City Elementary, about nine miles from her home.

The woman, who asked that the Record not use her name citing fear that her daughter would catch heat at school, joined a majority of registered voters in the Broadhurst community who have petitioned for their neighborhood to leave the Snoqualmie district and join Lake Washington. They say the move would benefit the neighborhood’s children by shortening their school commutes and improving their access to extracurricular activities.

Broadhurst includes 107 homes whose property taxes help fund Valley schools, a factor that will be taken into account as the two school districts examine the petition.

Petitioners say that Broadhurst children travel up to an hour and a half on the bus each day, a commute that not only takes up a lot of time, but also puts them in danger as they travel on two-lane country roads and inhale bus exhaust.

They also claim that it’s harder for Broadhurst children to participate in school sports and activities, and parents can’t have as much interaction with teachers as they would like.

And while Valley schools are over capacity, Lake Washington schools are accepting variances to fill their classrooms.

Citing Broadhurst’s history of voting against Snoqualmie Valley bond measures, as well as the high costs of busing the children long distances, petitioners say the district would be better off without the neighborhood.

At press time, the Snoqualmie Valley district had not received official notice of the petition. District spokeswoman Carolyn Malcolm said the district would follow established legal procedures in considering the request.

“Given the geographic expanse of our school district, we understand and can empathize that neighborhoods on the outer reaches of the boundaries may feel less connected. We look forward to learning more about this request, and more about what effects the potential territory change could have on the health of the district,” Malcolm said.

Factors under consideration include the property taxes of the 107 homes, and the effects that a decrease in revenues could have on the district. Another concern is that setting a boundary-shifting precedent could lead to other outlying communities filing similar petitions.

Myles Kahn, a Broadhurst homeowner who sends his children to private school, said he will lead the effort in filing a court appeal if the districts don’t work out a boundary shift during a 90-day negotiation period following their receipt of the petition.

A 1997 petition for Broadhurst to join Lake Washington schools was unsuccessful.

The school district boundaries were drawn in 1944.

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