BRENTWOOD -- Liberty Union High School District's trustees are considering changing attendance boundaries next month to redistribute students more evenly among campuses.
The new borders wouldn't have any bearing on those already in high school but would affect some youngsters graduating from schools in Brentwood Union School District.
Board members began discussing the idea in late August and will hold a public hearing on Jan. 16. Trustees are expected to decide the matter on Jan. 23.
"The issue is trying to balance out enrollments and prepare for new development," Superintendent Eric Volta said.
Among Liberty Union's three mainstream high schools, there's a significant difference between the head counts at Freedom High in Oakley and that of Brentwood's Heritage and Liberty high schools.
Without a boundaries adjustment, the distribution of students will become even more unequal because north Brentwood and east Oakley -- the areas where Heritage and Freedom students come from, respectively -- are also where the most new residential construction is expected, Volta said.
When there are too many students at one campus, their extracurricular opportunities are more limited, Volta said; there are fewer chances of winning a plum role in the school play or becoming drum major of the marching band.
In addition, a crowded campus means administrators and other employees have less time to handle discipline matters, help teachers and meet with parents, he said.
Distributing students more evenly among the campuses also will help ease congestion on and near American Avenue, Volta said, noting that the number of students at Heritage High has been on the rise for the past seven years.
And by easing the crunch at Heritage, there's less need for portable classrooms, a good thing because the campus has few suitable places for them, he said.
A long stretch of the new boundaries would follow Marsh Creek and a set of railroad tracks.
The district opted for these "natural" demarcations rather than draw boundaries down the middle of a street, which is a common occurrence right now, Volta said.
The problem is that kids who live on opposite sides of a street but have attended the same school for years are separated when they reach high school, he explained.
This would happen less often with the new limits, Volta said.
Although many students in Brentwood Union School District still could attend high school together, eighth-graders graduating from Bristow Middle School would continue to be divided between two high schools. They currently go to either Oakley's Freedom High or Heritage High in Brentwood; under the new plan, they would be split instead between Brentwood's Liberty High and Heritage.
The district would make an exception for those who live in the development across the street from Freedom; although students technically should attend Liberty according to the revised boundaries, they would be allowed to opt for Freedom instead.
And there likely will be more flexibility like this once students are spread more evenly across the campuses, Volta said.
Last year the district denied dozens of requests from incoming freshmen who wanted to attend a school other than the one they normally would go to, he said.
"If we can balance out enrollment, we should be able to accommodate school choice more easily," Volta said. "No promises, but we think we might be able to do it."
Contact Rowena Coetsee at 925-779-7141. Follow her at Twitter.com/RowenaCoetsee.