Despite pleas, board shifts students to new school

Bartels Middle School in New Tampa will get students from Liberty and Benito middle schools.

Published January 18, 2006

TAMPA - About 20 parents showed up Tuesday night to plead with the Hillsborough County School Board not to move their children to a new middle school opening this August in New Tampa.

It was a scene that has been repeated through the years, as fast-paced enrollment growth forces educators to change school boundaries when new campuses open.

The parents, who live in West Meadows and Richmond Place in northeastern Hillsborough, said the change would force their children to ride buses through a dangerous intersection and take them from their neighborhood school.

"Do not vote on this proposal tonight," parent Chris Young told board members. "It does not meet the standard for my fourth-grade daughter."

Despite the pleas, the board voted unanimously to move the children, drawing an attendance boundary for Bartels Middle School in the Live Oak subdivision that would essentially include all sixth- through eighth-grade students living east of Interstate 275 near Bruce B. Downs Boulevard.

"This is very difficult," board member Jennifer Faliero said. "We try to do the best we can."

One father muttered, "You guys are a joke," as the upset parents filed out.

Bartels will get students from Liberty and Benito middle schools, including those who live in West Meadows and Richmond Place housing additions a few miles southwest of the campus.

"I simply wished they would have studied it further," said parent Steve Young.

Also, the board gave administrators the go-ahead to negotiate a five-year technology contract with Hewlett-Packard that could be worth up to $50-million. The deal would essentially be a continuation of one signed in 2001 with Compaq, which is now Hewlett-Packard. The board must approve any negotiated contract.

Hillsborough NAACP acting president Curtis Stokes said he wants to make sure the company uses local minority businesses.

The board also voted to discontinue offering bus transportation to charter schools this fall because of an ongoing driver shortage. Three charter schools - USF/Patel, Mount Pleasant and Terrace Community - reimburse the district for the use of three or four buses. Charter schools are publicly funded schools run by private entities.

Gary Hocevar, Terrace Community principal, sees the decision as a change of philosophy.

"This is part of a larger feeling among the board that charter schools just need to fend for themselves," he said. "We're going to have to scramble to find alternative methods of transportation."

Assistant superintendent Lewis Brinson said that with the driver shortage, traditional schools need them all.

In other business, the board named four principals of new schools opening in August and three others to replace administrators who have either retired or been transferred to other schools.

Principals named or transferred to the new schools are Brandon High School principal Denny Oest to Lennard High School; East Bay High School principal Clyde Trathowen to Spoto High School; Coleman Middle School principal Maribeth Franklin to Bartels Middle School; and McDonald Elementary School principal Catherine Ferguson to Doby Elementary School.

Also, Cleveland Elementary School principal Phyllis Rodriguez, who was renamed to the position that she retired from in November; Jennings Middle School assistant principal JoAnn Johnson as the school's principal; and Brandon High School assistant principal Dennis Mayo to Turkey Creek Middle School.

The board suspended Cahoon Elementary School teacher Betty Jean Johnson Engram, 29, without pay for her Jan. 11 arrest on attempted murder charges.