A group of parents are pressing the Pasco School District for new attendance boundaries that won't force children to attend a school across town when another is half the distance or even closer to home.
Members of Pasco Parents for Neighborhood Schools plan to raise the issue at tonight's school board meeting.
"It's been seven years since these boundaries were drawn up, our demographics have changed and (the boundaries) are hurting the community," said Christina Johnson, a mother of eight living in west Pasco.
The group, which has about 200 members on Facebook, recently met with school board members Steve Christensen and Ryan Brault. They've also written letters and emails to the board and district administrators and have collected 180 signatures on an online petition calling for attendance boundaries that make "geographical sense."
District spokeswoman Leslee Caul said some school officials have met with some of the parents and "the process is under way" to review the group's concerns.
The district recently changed is elementary school boundaries ahead of opening Rosalind Franklin STEM Elementary School at Powerline Road and Road 52 for this fall.
But the parent group's main issue comes at the middle and high school levels.
Johnson's children attend Pasco High School, despite living much closer to Chiawana High School. They previously attended McLoughlin Middle School, and many of their friends ended up at Chiawana.
It's the same for some families on the east side of Pasco.
The district's boundary maps show students who live as close as five blocks east of Pasco High, as well as children living close to the Snake River, being assigned to Chiawana on the west end of the city.
Transfers are difficult to get regardless of which school parents wish to send their child to, parents said.
A more equal east-west split between the district's two high schools is more reasonable, said members of the group.
That would allow more neighborhood schools, strengthen communities within the district and ease burdens on families, who perhaps can't easily travel to a high school on the other end of town.
The group's efforts are part of a broader push to improve relationships between the district and families, said group members.
Frustrated residents have rejected past requests to approve bonds and are moving out of the district. They contend district officials don't routinely return calls and emails or are vague when they do respond.
"They listened but they weren't able to give us any sort of a deadline on when they could get back to us," said Tallia Lewis, a west Pasco mother of three, who attended the meeting with the school board members.
-- Ty Beaver: 509-582-1402; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @_tybeaver; Google+: +TyBeaverTCHerald