Boundary FAQs

  • How will high school/middle school bus routes be combined with a new boundary configuration?

    We will combine middle school and high school students from the same neighborhood on one bus when the middle and high schools are close to one another. If the high school and middle school are not in close proximity to one another, we will run separate buses for middle school and high school students.

    Will public bus routes accommodate the boundary revision?

    Highline Public Schools provides transportation to all our students who do not live within walking distance of their neighborhood school. We do not expect students to rely on public transportation.

    Why are North Hill students being sent over a major highway to Chinook Middle School if safety is a concern?

    Committee members wanted to “to minimize student crossing of major arterials and high traffic areas” on walking routes. Our practice is to bus students across major arterials. It would be nearly impossible to plan boundaries that do not include school buses crossing major arterials and high traffic areas.

    Cohort and community are the same thing for the combined students of North Hill and Marvista. Why is that not being considered?

    Committee members defined “cohort” as the students in an elementary school and “community” as neighborhoods or municipalities. A significant part of the discussion on “community” was about  the fact that students who attend school in one city but reside in another city may not be able to access city-sponsored after school programs.

    This guiding principle resulted in a plan that keeps elementary classes together through middle and high school once the new boundaries are in effect and avoids splitting elementary schools between two middle schools.

    Is the new apartment development at the Des Moines Masonic Home accounted for in projections for the new elementary school?

    Projections include all housing projects that are permitted for construction. We do not count projects until permits are final, because we do not know if a permit will be approved and for how many housing units. There are a number of potential developments throughout the district that do not yet have building permits.  

    The Des Moines Masonic Home development was not counted in projections because it is too early for permit applications to be submitted; the sale of that property is still pending. When/if the sale is final, it could be up to two years for permits to be approved and for construction to begin.

    Will transfers be considered to allow students to remain at Pacific Middle School in order to continue their elective choice, i.e. Design & Engineering and wind ensemble band?

    We will not have the capacity in our elementary or middle schools to allow students to remain in their current school after the boundary change. Students may apply for an in-district transfer to a school outside their boundary area. Transfers are granted on a space-available basis in cases of hardship.

    Will students be grandfathered in at their current high schools?

    We are evaluating whether there is space in the high schools to allow students to finish at the high school they are attending in fall 2019. We will post an answer as soon as we are able.

    Why aren't elementary schools centrally located within their boundaries?

    We build schools on land that the district already owns. Real estate is increasingly expensive, and there is virtually no acreage available where we need to build schools.  Residential patterns fluctuate over decades, so sites that were central at one time may not be central now. As a result, some schools may be close to the edge of the boundaries they serve.

    The proposed boundary changes will require my child to go to a different school in Fall 2019. Can my child be grandfathered into their current school?

    2019 will be a year of transition. Some students will change schools due to boundary changes. To maintain the appropriate number of students in each school, we will not be able to grandfather students into their current school. Principals and staff at both schools will work to help students make a smooth transition.

    Who makes the final decision on boundaries and what is the process?

    The school board will make the final decision on boundaries based on a recommendation from the Capital Facilities Advisory Committee (CFAC), following the public review period. CFAC is a 31-member committee of community members selected by lottery from our four high school service areas or appointed by local jurisdictions and organizations. This group is responsible for bond and boundary planning.

    Some seventh-grade students will change to a new middle school in eighth grade as a result of boundary changes. How will they be supported to ensure a smooth transition?

    District staff will work with staff, students and families to plan for a successful transition year. Principals and staff from each school will reach out to welcome and support students and make sure families are informed. Since significant clusters of seventh grade students (from the same elementary service areas) will all be changing at once, we anticipate many peer relationships will stay intact.

    Will the proposed boundary plan affect the Challenge Program/Highly Capable pathways for students?

    The proposed plan keeps the north end K-5 Challenge program at Shorewood Elementary and moves the south end K-5 Challenge program from Parkside Elementary to the new, larger elementary that will open at the Zenith site in Des Moines.

    Moving challenge classrooms to the new school in Des Moines means fewer children in the current Parkside service area will have to be displaced to another school.

    There is no plan to change the location of the highly capable programs at Sylvester and Chinook middle schools.

    My child has an in-district transfer into a school outside my neighborhood. Will my student be able to stay in his current school or need to reapply for the transfer?

    If your child currently has an in-district transfer, the transfer is approved through the highest grade for that school and you will not need to reapply for a transfer. Transfers will not be revoked based on boundary changes.

    Additional question asked at community meetings (answers will be posted as soon as possible):

    • Could areas around school boundaries be "gray areas" where families could choose which school to attend?

    Stay tuned for more questions and answers as we continue through the boundary review process with our community and staff. Let us know if you don't see the answer to a question you have by contacting us at