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Crowding means yes, more zone changes

Published January 5, 2007


As if you haven't had enough of school attendance zone changes, there are more to come in 2007.

First up is James A. Hammond Elementary School, on the Walker Middle School campus in Keystone. It's slated to draw students from Citrus Park, Schwarzkopf and McKitrick elementary schools. A small group of parents have reviewed the boundary, and a public hearing is to be held early in the year.

School district officials have received a few complaints, mostly of the "don't move me" variety, but nothing that has prompted them to redraw the initial proposal of putting children living in the far northwest corner of the county into the school. Pupil assignment director Steve Ayers hopes to forward the Hammond Elementary boundary to the School Board before the end of February.

Then Ayers will turn his attention to the zone for yet-unnamed Middle School RR, to open on the Citrus Park Elementary campus in 2008.

The new school is expected to ease crowding at Walker, Martinez, Davidsen and Farnell middle schools. But much is riding on where the school district decides to build wings. Each of those schools but Farnell is under consideration, as is Hill Middle, which could play a role in the discussion, too.

The decision on wings hinges on how the School Board wants to calculate school capacities in the coming years. It has been using the class-size reduction mandates of 18 students in kindergarten through third grade, 22 in fourth through eighth, and 25 in high school.

District officials have floated the idea of using smaller numbers - 16, 20 and 23 - "so we don't open them up already full," Ayers said.

If the School Board adopts the more conservative method, larger rather than smaller boundary changes could come into play. The idea of shifting some students from Farnell to Webb also remains on the table.

A third group of schools - Shaw, Chiles, Witter, Lake Magdalene and Miles elementary schools - are proving most complicated for the school district as it tries to untangle the crowding snarl. Ayers said he hopes to tackle the mess during 2007.

But so much depends on the ability to move students to Miles, the school you see on the right as you drive south on Interstate 275. It's slated to undergo much-needed renovations and will have little space for new faces until 2008.

So while parents and district officials might work out a plan for redrawing the zones of these landlocked schools, no movement is likely for some time.

Finally, the district needs to redraw its high school boundaries for northern Hillsborough before the 2009 opening of a still-unnamed high school on Lutz-Lake Fern Road. Discussions should begin late in the year and will likely affect Sickles, Gaither, Alonso, Freedom and Wharton.

The real estate division of the school district is looking for another high school site in the region, which could also affect the high school zones.

It's not all busy, though, and some decisions are bringing relief to families that had feared change. No longer likely are moves of students from Pride to Heritage Elementary School, from Sickles to Leto High, and from Folsom to Temple Terrace Elementary School.




[Last modified January 4, 2007, 21:52:11]

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