Zoning Equality

Bellingham School District changes school zones - but at what cost?

Coleman Brummel, Reporter

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Bellingham Schools have always made kids go to the school that was closest to them. They did this through the process of zoning, in which the district decides who goes where based off border lines which they rarely change. However, about a month ago, the district decided to base it off of not only geography, but income as well. The new zoning laws will make it so kids will go to different schools,even if far away,to more evenly distribute the income.

Starting in the next couple years, Middle School students and younger will go to schools based off the new standard of income and geography. The school district decided that this was necessary because they feel that some schools are getting less attention than others because of unequal income distribution.

Policy 3130 on student attendance areas, as of now, states “The district will provide a reasonably balanced socioeconomic relationship in all schools”. The school district believes that they should now lightly base the boundaries off of geography, and largely off of income so that it’s certain that kids’ wealth is distributed evenly throughout the schools.

Critics of this new zoning system are voicing their dissatisfaction. An anonymous family with two kids at Silver Beach Elementary is not happy with where their kids will have to go to school after this goes into effect.

“It’s really frustrating to us because Whatcom and Kulshan are so much closer,” the family said. “They didn’t really use the opinion of anyone that this would affect drastically and that is wrong. If they wanted to make a change at least get the opinion of everyone first.”

Their kids might have to now transfer to Northern Heights Elementary School, not far from their house. Location isn’t the problem with Northern Heights– friends and familiarity is. The family’s son is already in third grade and has a bunch of friends. With the new zoning laws, he will go to a school without most of his friends, putting him in an uncomfortable situation to find a new friend group. Not only this, but Shuksan is a longer distance from their house than the  two other middle schools.

“If the district really wanted us to switch schools, at least don’t pick one of the farthest away,” the family said.

The 3130 policy will continue to be heavily debated in the Bellingham community. The question for the families of kids who will have to move is: will moving these kids to new schools where they don’t have friends and need to adapt to a new environment change the dynamic in schools to the point where income is completely balanced and school is fair for everyone? All of this will affect students in Bellingham schools, and people cannot agree on if it will affect them in a positive or negative way.

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