3130 Policy – Student Attendance Areas

Bellingham Public Schools shall review the geographic attendance areas designated for each school in the district on a regular basis and make adjustments as needed. As population and enrollment shifts within the district, changes in attendance areas or transfer of students may be necessary. By mid-May of each school year, the next year’s estimated enrollment should be forecast for each attendance area.

Students shall attend the school designated for their respective residential areas, unless individual requests for transfers have been approved according to policy and procedure. In those transfer cases where estimated enrollments substantially exceed class size guidelines, student transfers shall be proposed to another school to operate an effective and efficient educational program.

When fall enrollments in an attendance area substantially exceed class size guidelines, non-transfer students also may be required to attend another school in another attendance area.

The following factors shall be considered when the district develops and adjusts attendance areas, boundaries, and considers student transfers:

  • Minimize disruption of student’s established learning programs.
  • Keep siblings in the same elementary, middle or high school, whenever possible.
  • Provide overall balance of student enrollment related to facility size, taking into account future growth patterns.
  • Provide a reasonably balanced socio-economic relationship in all schools.
  • Provide the most efficient and feasible means for student transportation to and from school, including whether safe routes to school might exist, minimizing travel time and transportation costs.
  • Keep neighborhoods together, whenever possible.
  • Maintain feeder schools patterns so that elementary/middle/high school attendance areas coincide and students stay with the same cohort as they progress through school levels, whenever possible.
  • Follow natural boundaries and utilize existing physical boundaries such as major roadways to delineate boundaries, whenever possible.

The district will use two factors to help determine the scope of proposed attendance area adjustments and what type of decision-making process to use:

  1. The number of schools involved in the proposed change.
  2. The number of students and people impacted by the proposed change.

Prior to making major adjustments in attendance areas that affect a large number of schools and people, the district will seek input from students, families, community members and staff through a public process to prepare a recommendation from the superintendent.

As new development or population shifts occur, smaller adjustments in attendance areas that involve fewer schools, people or a particular neighborhood may be necessary. In these circumstances, the Department of Finance and Operations will work closely with the principals at the impacted schools and community members for the affected area to prepare a recommendation to the superintendent.

The superintendent will make the final decision regarding school attendance areas and any adjustments.

Following any adjustments to attendance areas, the district will notify currently enrolled families, post a notice on its website, update online attendance area maps, and inform staff who enroll new students.  The district is not responsible for real estate or third party promotion of attendance areas. Families or community members seeking this information shall use the official maps on the district website or contact the district/school offices.

The district reserves the right to base final decisions on the needs of all schools in the district.


Approved By: Greg Baker
Adopted/Previous Revisions: 12/20/13
Updated: 07/20/16
Superintendent or Board Approved: Superintendent Approved
Cross References: Content

Policy 3131/3131P District Attendance Area Transfers

Legal References: Content

RCW 28A.320.040 Bylaws for board and school government