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Officials shift school boundaries

A school opening and the addition of a magnet program at another are planned to balance out school populations.

By LOGAN D. MABE, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 3, 2002


KEYSTONE -- With some nifty juggling, school district officials have found a way to include more neighborhoods in the Farnell Middle School attendance zone while creating a new magnet program at Roland Park Middle School.

Superintendent Earl Lennard will present the proposal to the School Board, which will vote on the plan at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Farnell, which will open in August, will get students from Davidsen Middle, Roland Park Middle and Walker Middle to help relieve overcrowding. The school will serve students moving up from Bryant, Lowry, and Bay Crest elementaries.

Two neighborhoods that will benefit most in the restructuring are Colonial Coach and Timberlane. Students from those pocket subdivisions will begin attending Davidsen Middle School next fall, after having been bused to far away Lockhart Elementary for the past decade.

The plan initially had a major flaw in that it would lower Roland Park's enrollment to fewer than 300 students. But district officials hope to bolster that number by moving the West Shore Alliance/Manhattan school of choice to Roland Park, and adding a 300-student magnet program.

"So that should make most people happy," said Bill Person, pupil administrative services director. "Without a magnet program, Roland Park would drop to about 280 students, so we're looking at relocating the Westshore Alliance School that serves parents who work in the Westshore business district. We feel we could have enrollment at about 900 students at Roland Park next year."

With nine new schools opening in August, attendance zone boundaries have been hot issues for neighborhoods throughout the county. Residents of Timberlane and Colonial Coach were particularly keen to see their communities benefit from this one because of their long history of being bused across town to help keep the district in good stead with a desegregation order.

Under the proposed boundary, Farnell would start the new school year with 972 students and a capacity for 1,395. Davidsen would open with 1,197 and a capacity for 1,237. Walker would have 995 students with room for 1,150. And Roland Park would have 880 students with room for 918.

"All the lights are green right now, so we'll proceed to the board Tuesday," Person said.

- Logan D. Mabe can be reached at 226-3464 or at mabe@sptimes.com.

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