Pocatello-Chubbuck boundary committee yields two new options

POCATELLO — The Pocatello-Chubbuck School District’s high school boundary committee has produced two new options for the school board to consider later this month.

The committee — comprised of 13 district employees, three parents and two trustees — met Thursday at Highland High School to discuss a handful of proposals from three recently formed focus groups. One of the groups stuck with a previous recommendation presented to the school board, before trustees tabled plans to carve up new high school boundaries and acknowledged they were rushing the process.

The other two options are variations of that original recommendation:

  • One option mirrors the original recommendation, except for an area of both Century and Pocatello high school students living north of Alameda Road and west of Hawthorne Road, which could be given to Highland. These kids would instead switch to Pocatello under the new option.
  • The other option keeps these Century and Pocatello students in Highland’s boundaries, yet relocates Highland students east of Yellowstone Highway and west of Interstate 15 to Century High School. This option also brings Pocatello’s proposed northern boundary south, from Reservation Road to Siphon Road, and extends Pocatello’s proposed southern boarder further south into the Johnny Creek neighborhood.

Pocatello-Chubbuck business manager Bart Reed, who chairs the boundary committee, reiterated that these changes are mere possibilities for trustees to consider, along with the original proposal, at their next meeting.

Century parent Heidi Payne, another committee member, said she feels “good” about the variations.

“I feel like we’ve done a great job,” Payne said, though she acknowledged that the process has been difficult and contentious at times.

Trustees were close to finalizing new high school boundaries last month, but tabled their plans after an outcry from patrons who said the school board was rushing the decision. Some of these patrons questioned the need to end the district’s long-running open enrollment policy in the first place, and have since circulated petitions to recall all school board members.

The school board responded to these concerns by slowing down and requesting more information. As a result, the district formed the three new focus groups. The original target date for the boundary changes was Jan. 11.

For two decades, the Pocatello-Chubbuck School District has allowed students to choose between its three high schools. Enrollment and socioeconomic disparities among the schools prompted an end to the policy and spurred a months-long debate over boundary changes.

Pocatello-Chubbuck spokeswoman Shelley Allen wasn’t sure when the school board would meet next to discuss the new options, but said it would be within the next two weeks. School board chair Jacki Cranor and trustee Paul Vitale, who are also boundary committee members, didn’t participate in Thursday’s decision to produce the new options.

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