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Schools

Parents air worries over school reassignments

The district plans to move 1,000 students to fill new schools.

By AMBER MOBLEY
Published February 1, 2007


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TAMPA - Easing crowding at schools in Hillsborough County's northwest corner will mean hardships for families and friends, an audience of 200 people told school district officials Wednesday night.

The district plans to shuffle about 1,000 students between eight existing schools as they redraw attendance boundaries to populate two schools that will open in the next two years.

The changes will affect students at three elementary schools - McKitrick, Citrus Park and Schwarzkopf - and four middle schools - Farnell, Martinez, Davidsen, Walker and Webb.

Parents complained that changing attendance boundaries mean yet another switch for kids who have already been reassigned; longer bus rides; educational uncertainty; dashed hopes for children wanting to attend the same school as older siblings; and will make picking up children nearly impossible.

With the boundary proposals, Janeen Patten's son will have to move from McKitrick Elementary to the new James A. Hammond Elementary. McKitrick's academically gifted program is focused on math and science. Patten worries that if Hammond's AGP program focuses on reading and writing, the district is "setting him up for failure."

Another McKitrick mother, Martha Penton, said picking up her children in the afternoon from opposite sides of Gunn Highway will be impossible if her oldest has to switch schools.

Steve Ayers, director of pupil administrative services for the school district, said he'll consider comments from the meeting - as well as e-mailed comments he receives in the next few weeks - as he finalizes the boundary changes.

Two schools are opening over the next two years to ease the area's already crowded schools: Hammond, which is scheduled to open in August, and a yet-unnamed "Middle School RR" which is to open in 2008.

Ayers hopes to have the proposed boundaries plan before the School Board for a decision by the end of the month.

Amber Mobley can be reached at amobley@sptimes.com or 813 269-5311.

[Last modified February 1, 2007, 06:06:48]


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