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District offers boundary controversy solutions

Posted: 7:12 PM, Mar 23, 2016
Updated: 2016-03-24 02:19:33Z

Angry South Bay parents now have an option if they want their children go to the Sweetwater Union High School District school they expected them to attend when they first bought their homes.

The district recently changed the boundaries for several of their schools to alleviate overcrowding. It meant entire neighborhoods were moved from one school to the next.

"They just split it without taking into account that this is a whole community," said Chula Vista resident Edelynne Austria-Gavino.

RELATED: South Bay parents frustrated over new school boundaries

Austria-Gavino's family purchased their San Miguel Ranch home six years ago with the intention of sending their daughter Isabel to Eastlake High School.

"We were definitely looking at the API rankings," said Austria-Gavino. "So it was a big factor when we came out here."

RELATED: Sweetwater Union's New Boundaries

That all changed when the boundaries were recently adjusted, and students living Austria-Gavino's entire neighborhood were switched to Bonita Vista High School.

"I was shocked because I would think they would want the community input," said Austria-Gavino.

Sweetwater Union High School District spokesman Manny Rubio said they had several meetings and the boundary changes were not made overnight.

Austria-Gavino and her husband published an online petition on Change.org to rally interest. Angry parents discussed the matter on social media outlets like Nextdoor and Facebook.

"We just wanted to get the community involved so that they'd know," she said.

Rubio said the district listened to the concerns and has a short-term solution, but is also is working on a long-term fix.

"We're not going to change the boundaries," said Rubio. "Those aren't going to change, but what we are saying is you're welcome to apply for the transfer."

Rubio called them "priority preference" transfers, "which means that if you apply, that 99 percent likelihood is your application will be accepted for the transfer."

That means Austria-Gavino's daughter Isabel should be able to attend Eastlake High School next year, even though she now lives in Bonita Vista High's boundaries.

This school year, Eastlake High is above capacity. The district said it's designed for 2,970 students, but more than 3,000 are enrolled.

At the same time, Bonita Vista can handle 2,639 students, but only 2,426 attend that high school.

"One of the things I don't think anybody anticipated was how fast and how big [Chula Vista] was going to grow," said Rubio.

That's where the long-term fix can help. Rubio said the district is looking to build a new high school near the Millenia development and Otay Ranch Town Center.

SUHSD also wants to build a new middle school near Olympian High School.

Building those schools would alleviate much of the overcrowding issues. However, they don't have the land secured for those projects.

Runio said an older plan for a 7th through 12th grade joint school will probably be scrapped because the property earmarked for the project isn't big enough.