Four proposals were given to parents at a recent meeting. A final option should be presented to the School Board in November or December.
By MELIA BOWIE, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times, published October 27, 2002
HERITAGE ISLES -- Next year's opening of Heritage Elementary School will relieve overcrowding at Pride Elementary School, solving one headache in growing New Tampa. But its debut is creating another for families waiting to see if their children will be reassigned.
Last week they heard four boundary proposals during a workshop at Benito Middle School. Since May, an 11-member committee of parents and officials has met to identify Heritage boundaries and discuss diversity, distance and traffic issues.
Superintendent Earl Lennard is charged with narrowing the four options to one, which could be presented to the School Board on Nov. 19 or Dec. 10.
"Hopefully you're going to see something tonight that you can support," pupil administration director Bill Person told the audience at Benito.
All four proposals for Heritage Elementary would relocate 14 Branchton students, and any new students from that community, out of Thonotosassa Elementary and into the new Heritage Elementary.
A satellite community of 150 children at Fletcher and 22nd Street will be moved out of Pride and into yet another new school next year.
Plan One calls for children in Creekwood, Meadow Creek, Arbor Greene, Kingshyre, Covington and Cory Lake Isles to remain at Pride. Pinehurst and Magnolia Trace children would attend Heritage Elementary; so would several Cross Creek apartment complexes: Addison, Andover Place, the Villas and Heritage Pines.
The other plans play off of the first one like pieces of a puzzle. Plan Two, for example, would leave the Magnolia Trace and Pinehurst children at Pride. Plan Three leaves Magnolia Trace, Pinehurst and Andover apartments at Pride. The final option leaves both the Andover and Addison apartment complexes at Pride, while moving the Pinehurst and Magnolia Trace children to Heritage Elementary.
No one from Cory Lake Isles or Arbor Greene would be moved. Both those communities made the transition from Hunter's Green Elementary School to Pride Elementary when Pride opened in 2000.
Seeking to calm some in the audience, Arbor Greene parent Scott Nevitt said, "Our children go to the same churches, play the same sports and we need to remain as one community."
Others expressed frustration that boundary lines are continually redrawn and their children shuffled from one new school to another.
"Nobody wants to be uprooted with their children," said Laureen Ohl of Pinehurst. "Why can't they build schools that are big enough to host growth, at least for five years?
Person said while the national standard is to build for 300 to 600 students, Hillsborough County already builds for 900.
"Growth (here) is a serious, serious issue," he said, noting the district is now the 10th largest in the country. "We're building schools like they're going out of style."
Other parents said they are hesitant to allow their children to leave Pride because they do not know what Heritage will offer. Cathy Valdes, area 3 director for the district, said those features will be revealed by the new principals, who typically are named in January.