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School may answer space crunch

Turn the Manhattan choice school into a new school or office space? Both are needed badly.

By SUSAN THURSTON, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 15, 2002


The Manhattan/Westshore Alliance Choice School site may turn into a neighborhood elementary school or administrative offices when its students move to Roland Park.

School district officials said growth around Gandy Boulevard may warrant adding a school for kindergarteners through fifth-graders who live in the area.

"We're seeing a resurgence of young couples with young kids," said Bill Person, director of pupil assignment for Hillsborough County schools. "Our enrollments are increasing."

The district also needs office space for support services staff working in areas such as childhood learning programs, Head Start and health services.

The Manhattan school on Bay Villa Avenue serves children whose parents work in the Westshore business district. Families come from across the region and apply to get in.

The school will lose its 240 students next year when they move to Roland Park Middle School about 21/2 miles north near Interstate 275. Hillsborough school officials plan to convert Roland Park into the district's first kindergarten through eighth-grade school.

Person said Interbay neighborhood schools, including Anderson, Ballast Point and Chiaramonte elementaries, may need relief as more people move into the south peninsula. In recent years, many growing families have bought small houses to tear down and replace with larger ones.

District staff and the superintendent will study the options over the next few months. Converting Manhattan into a new school would require the School Board's approval. Making it into offices would not.

The district has no money set aside for an additional elementary school in the area, but could weigh funding priorities if needed, Person said. The new school would likely reopen for the 2004-05 academic year, at the earliest.

Administrative office could open sooner.

- Susan Thurston can be reached at (813) 226-3394 or thurston@sptimes.com.

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