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Students no longer stuck in limbo

Hillsborough County Schools finds placements for many of the more than 1,500 kids affected by a glitch in its controlled choice plan.

By LOGAN MABE
Published February 24, 2004

TAMPA - With more than 1,500 students in limbo about where they will go to school next year under the controlled choice plan, Hillsborough County Schools found schools for most of them Monday and are notifying parents.

Two weeks ago, school officials identified a computer glitch that had hundreds of students slated to go to schools that were crowded.

The district has a general policy of closing enrollment at schools exceeding 100 percent of capacity. In Hillsborough this year, that's 61, or one-third, of 183 schools.

The discovery came after the district sent out confirmations saying students received their first choices in the selection process.

Now, after checking the numbers and looking at students' second and third choices, most of the 1,501 affected students will have seats in the fall.

Where they will go:

576 students will receive their second- or third-choice schools (486 received their second choice; 90, their third) because the schools they selected are not crowded.

296 students could not receive any of their choice schools because they all were crowded. These students will be assigned to schools in their neighborhoods.

277 students selected crowded schools and have no identified neighborhood schools, so they will be assigned schools by district officials.

196 students will be assigned to their neighborhood schools because they chose it as their second or third option on their choice applications.

156 students were excluded from the choice process because they were exceptional education, magnet school or kindergarten students who will be assigned to the school in their neighborhood.

Also, 549 students were assigned to crowded schools that are their neighborhood schools.

Because those students live in their schools' attendance zones, they still will be allowed to go there.

"These are youngsters that really did not have to complete a choice application," chief academic officer Donnie Evans said. "We have guaranteed any youngster who resides in a school's attendance area a seat in that school. Capacity is not a limiting factor if they live in that area."

District officials began calling parents Friday to tell them the results of the revised school assignments.

The officials reported that of 196 parents called, about 70 percent were "accepting of their child's assignment" and 30 percent "expressed disappointment."

District officials plan to contact the remaining parents by Friday and to follow up with written confirmations.

Evans said his staff will work with students and parents on a "one-to-one individual basis" to find the best school options.

About 47,000 students were eligible to apply for the choice program, of which about 6,500 students did.

- Logan D. Mabe can be reached at 269-5304 or mabe@sptimes.com

[Last modified February 24, 2004, 01:14:58]


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