A father seeking to have a northeast Murrieta neighborhood incorporated into the Murrieta Valley Unified School District passed a hurdle this week.
Arthur Murphy’s petition for the boundary change has been accepted by the Riverside County Office of Education, meaning that within the next 60 days, public hearings must be held by Murrieta Valley Unified, Menifee Union School District and Perris Union High School District.
Murphy, who lives in the Granite Gate housing tract off of Whitewood Road—about a half-mile from Vista Murrieta High School—started the petition in March 2012 when he learned that his home and those of 468 other registered voters were assigned to the Menifee Union School District although their addresses are within the city of Murrieta.
The problem, Murphy says, is that when his young children reach high school age, their assigned school would Paloma Valley High School. Paloma Valley is about 9 miles from his home, while Vista Murrieta is within a mile.
“Every day when I leave for work at 6:30 in the morning, I see kids out there waiting for the bus to Paloma,” Murphy said.
Murphy currently has a first-grader at Oak Meadows Elementary, which is located in Murrieta but is part of the Menifee Union School District, a K-8 district from which students go on to attend the Perris Union High School District. He and his wife also have two younger children.
Eighteen months after he first started collecting signatures, Murphy’s petition was deemed legally sufficient and signed Oct. 10 by Riverside County Superintendent of Schools Kenneth M. Young, according to a letter he received this week.
Murphy explained that it was the third petition he has submitted, as the first one did not include the Perris Union High School District as part of the proposed reorganization. He was short by two signatures on the second petition, he told Patch.
The father went door-to-door to obtain signatures from a required 25 percent of registered voters in the area he seeks to annex into Murrieta Valley Unified. The area encompasses three housing tracts north of Clinton Keith Road and south of Linnel Lane.
The signatures then needed to be verified by the Riverside County Registrar of Voters before the petition could be passed on to the Riverside County Office of Education.
The Oct. 14 letter states that County Superintendent Young has now forwarded the petition to the Riverside County School District Organization Committee, which will conduct the hearings in the respective school districts.
What follows that is complicated.
The committee will study the environmental effects of the proposed reorganization, as well as determine whether it meets nine conditions:
1. The reorganized districts will be adequate in terms of number of pupils enrolled.
2. The districts are each organized on the basis of a substantial community identity.
3. The proposal will result in an equitable division of property and facilities of the original district or districts.
4. The reorganization of the districts will preserve each affected district's ability to educate students in an integrated environment and will not promote racial or ethnic discrimination or segregation.
5. Any increase in costs to the state as a result of the proposed reorganization will be insignificant and otherwise incidental to the reorganization.
6. The proposed reorganization will continue to promote sound education performance and will not significantly disrupt the educational programs in the districts affected by the proposed reorganization.
7. Any increase in school facilities costs as a result of the proposed reorganization will be insignificant and otherwise incidental to the reorganization.
8. The proposed reorganization is primarily designed for purposes other than to significantly increase property values.
9. The proposed reorganization will continue to promote sound fiscal management and not cause a substantial negative effect on the fiscal status of the proposed district or any existing district affected by the proposed reorganization.
The county committee may then approve or disapprove the petition based on its findings. If an appeal of that decision if filed, an election could be called.