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Saddleback District High Schools Get New Boundaries : Education: To ease future crowding at Trabuco Hills High and to save money, board acts despite complaints from parents and the possibility of a lawsuit.


MISSION VIEJO — In the face of complaints and a possible lawsuit from upset parents, the Saddleback Valley Unified School District on Tuesday changed high school boundary lines to ease future crowding at Trabuco Hills High School.

Under the new boundary lines, about 150 eighth-grade students who had been planning to attend Trabuco Hills High School next September will instead attend Mission Viejo and El Toro high schools. Students already attending Trabuco Hills High will not be affected.

The new boundary lines are needed not only to ease projected overcrowding at Trabuco Hills but to save the district about $1.7 million over the next nine years by lessening the need for portable classrooms on the campus, district officials said.

If boundary lines had not been changed, district officials say, more than 4,000 students would be attending Trabuco Hills by the end of the century. The school is designed to hold about 1,800 students.

Since the school has not yet reached its peak, many parents, upset at the prospect at driving or busing their children long distances to school, asked the board to wait one more year before making a decision, giving everyone plenty of advanced warning.

"What is the rush?" asked Jeff Frazier, a Portola Hills resident. "Give us a year. Give us a chance to work with you."

But board members said that without the changes, portables would be needed next year and they feared the prospect of having to move students already attending the high school if they were to make the same decision next year.

"It would be an incredibly crowded situation," board member Bobbee Cline said.

Trabuco Canyon resident Matt Campbell, whose daughter will now have to attend Mission Viejo High School about 30 to 45 minutes away, said it is not fair that Saddleback students are forced to move when about 75 students from Coto de Caza, who are technically within the Capistrano Unified School District, are allowed to stay at the high school.

"We'll look into what action we can take because we don't think it's fair," he said. "As a group we know that each of the four high schools in the Saddleback Valley district are excellent academic schools. That's not the issue.

"But (the district) really doesn't see the full picture of what this will do to the inconvenience on the parents."

In the next nine years:

* About 272 students from the Portola Hills area will be assigned to El Toro High School.

* About 500 students from Robinson Ranch, Dove Canyon, Brighton Homes and the Borcher Property areas will be assigned to Mission Viejo High School.

* About 363 students from the Foothill/Trabuco area will be assigned to Mission Viejo High School.

The district will continue its "sibling privilege," which prevents families from having to send their children to two different schools at the same time.

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