Pocatello-Chubbuck approves new high school boundaries

POCATELLO — The Pocatello-Chubbuck School Board approved new boundaries for its three high schools Tuesday night.

Trustees met at the district office to discuss two new options produced by three recently formed focus groups. After roughly an hour of discussion revolving mostly around balancing enrollment between the three schools, trustees unanimously approved an option that differed in three ways from a previously considered plan:

  1. Students east of Yellowstone Highway and west of Interstate 15 are in Century High School’s boundaries.
  2. Students north of Siphon Road and west of Hawthorne Road are in Highland’s boundaries.
  3. Students in the Johnny Creek area south of town are in Pocatello’s boundaries.

Click here for a map of the new and official high school boundaries.

Each of the five trustees said the new plan will reduce enrollment at Highland High School, which is now operating over capacity. They also expect the new boundaries to curb socioeconomic gaps between the three schools — one result of two decades of the district’s “school of choice” policy that allowed students to choose which high school they wanted to attend.

Trustess also addressed a public outcry over efforts to close high school boundaries. Following the board’s decision to end school of choice, some parents circulated recall petitions and argued that trustees weren’t listening to the public.

“We don’t have any hidden agendas,” school board chair Jackie Cranor told the roughly 50 patrons in attendance Tuesday. “We’re trying our very best. It’s been really hard.”

Cranor referenced several “compromises” aimed at softening the blow new boundaries will have on families, including an exception for students already enrolled at their school of choice and their current eight-grade siblings. Trustees extended this rule Tuesday to include current sixth and seventh graders, who will now also be able to an out-of-boundary high school with an older sibling.

This rule change allayed concerns for at least one parent aiding the recall effort.

“I can’t speak for our whole group, but it’s enough for me,” said patron Earl Stoddard, adding that he would likely end his own efforts to recall the school board.

Trustees were close to finalizing new high school boundaries last month, but tabled their plans in the wake of the outcry. The school board responded to public concerns by slowing down and requesting more information. As a result, the district formed the three new focus groups.

Wednesday’s changes are in place for the 2018-19 school year.

Devin Bodkin

Devin Bodkin

EdNews assistant editor and reporter Devin Bodkin is a former high school English teacher who specializes in stories about charter schools and educating students who live in poverty. He lives and works in East Idaho. Follow Devin on Twitter @dsbodkin. He can be reached by email at [email protected].

Get EdNews in your inbox

Weekly round up every Friday