Jim Migliorino, deputy superintendent of DVUSD

Jim Migliorino, deputy superintendent of DVUSD’s Fiscal and Business Services, gave a presentation on Dec. 11 at Sandra Day O’Connor High School

Deer Valley Unified School District is considering boundary changes likely to impact Peoria and Glendale students at Mountain Ridge and Sandra Day O’Connor high schools.

Jim Migliorino, deputy superintendent of DVUSD’s Fiscal and Business Services, gave a presentation in the Sandra Day O’Connor library on Dec. 11, providing parents and concerned residents information on the district’s potential boundary changes.

“We look at school capacity on an annual basis,” Migliorino explained. “This process starts with an annual demographic report we commission, which includes looking at school capacity now and in the future based on student projected enrollment.”

He said the DVUSD governing board will “officially consider these boundary changes” Jan. 14, capping a year-long process. Last week, proposed school boundary changes were shared at community meetings at DVUSD high schools.

Some Glendale parents from the Arrowhead Ranch area complained at the Mountain Ridge meeting that it felt as if the district already decided on the new boundaries and ignored their input.

“I do not think the boundary change is a foregone conclusion. In fact, our governing board asked us to develop some options based on the comments made from our Dec. 10 governing board meeting,” Migliorino said.  

“Changing school boundaries is not an easy task, and it creates a great deal of emotional reactions. We do put forth a great deal of thought before even considering school boundary changes, and we do respect - and appreciate - how the communities we serve feel very strongly about their school.”

Some parents at the Sandra Day O’Connor High meeting were critical of the proposed changes, raising concerns about potential transportation and scheduling problems the changes could bring.

“I think the proposed boundary change involving the Arrowhead Ranch neighborhoods being designated from (Mountain Ridge High School) to (Deer Valley High School) have created the most contentious aspects of the meetings we have held,” Migliorino said, via email Friday.

“The rest of the meetings have been - generally - more accepting, but yet still very inquisitive of things such as timing, grandfathering, bus transportation options, etc. but there have been some changes made to other school boundary areas from the feedback we have received.” 

At the Sandra Day O’Connor High meeting, he explained those unsatisfied with their options under the new boundaries would have the opportunity to go to different schools as part of open enrollment. However, they would not be provided bus transportation by DVUSD, and sometimes there is a long waitlist for students to get into their desired schools.

“By law, we have to allow for parents to apply for open enrollment. But, there is no guarantee, especially for the schools currently near or over capacity,” Migliorino said.

Zip codes in DVUSD include 85027, 85308, 85310, 85083, 85383, 85085, 85086 and 85087.

The proposed changes would not impact any of the elementary or middle school boundaries currently feeding into Sandra Day O’Connor. But  the district would decrease attendance area for the high school itself on the western boundary. Where the current boundary reaches west in Peoria, it would now cut off at around Pyramid Peak in the west.

Boundaries for West Wing and Terramar Elementary Schools in Peoria and Hillcrest Middle School in Glendale feed into O’Connor currently. While the students at those schools would come from the same area, under the proposed changes they would each feed into Mountain Ridge High in Glendale. 

Many of the students west of Interstate 17 who currently attend Desert Mountain Elementary and would go to Sandra Day O’Connor would move to Boulder Creek for high school as a result, as well.

According to Migliorino, the projected change comes as a response to overpopulation at several of the district’s high schools and underutilization of the other district schools, such as Deer Valley High.

“Sandra Day O’Connor is one of the schools, as you can see, already at over 90 percent capacity,” Migliorino said, pointing to a slide in the presentation, “And if you look at projections it could get to even more.”

In an attempt to keep families and communities together, as well as grandfather a group of students in, the plan would minimally affect current eighth-grade students. Even though the proposal would take effect in the 2020-21 school year, 2019-20 eighth graders would go to the current school they are slotted for would still be able to attend the high school they are slotted for. However, school-provided transportation would cut off for these students after the 2021-22 academic year.

“We’d expect by the time they become juniors and seniors they won’t be riding the bus anymore,” Migliorino said.

The deadline for priority applications for open enrollment will be extended to Jan. 15, he also said.

While many said they understood the need for change, several parents in attendance bemoaned the boundary realignments. One parent said O’Connor already has a parking problem, so the lack of buses for the grandfathered students would cause even more of an issue. 

Another said the change would be disruptive for her kids’ schedules and transportation while separating them into different schools.

At the presentation, Migliorino said the board had already received over 170 emails. Suggestions, complaints or other comments can be sent directly to boundaries@dvusd.org.

And, prior to the board meeting on Jan. 14, any other proposed changes would be updated on the district website.

In addition to Sandra Day O’Connor, the other DVUSD schools would undergo boundary changes to try and balance out the district more.

Anthem’s Boulder Creek would increase attendance area on the southeast boundary to conform to changes to the new Desert Mountain attendance boundary, Barry Goldwater would decrease attendance area on the northeast boundary, Deer Valley would increase attendance area on the western boundary and Mountain Ridge would increase attendance on the northern boundary while decreasing attendance on the southern boundary.

For more information, see dvusd.org/Boundary2020.