tampabay.com

Board okays Hammond boundaries

Parents from one neighborhood are disappointed their kids will be moved.

By AMBER MOBLEY
Published February 28, 2007


TAMPA - Over the objections of parents worried about neighborhood cohesiveness and dangerous commutes, the Hillsborough County School Board unanimously approved attendance boundaries Tuesday for an elementary scheduled to open in the northwest part of the county.

James A. Hammond Elementary is expected to draw nearly 600 students from three nearby crowded schools - Citrus Park, McKitrick and Schwarzkopf - and help the county meet the state's mandate to reduce class sizes.

The board's decision came much to the dismay of many parents whose children will have to move to Hammond from McKitrick, an A school with a math specialty program.

Parents from the 130-home Montreux subdivision sent a petition representing 116 households asking to stay at McKitrick.

"Our community is centered around McKitrick," said Martha Penton who said she volunteers there often because it is close.

Penton was one of seven parents pleading for different attendance boundaries or a delay. Others spoke of traffic snarls on the route to the new school that worry them.

But adjusting the boundaries to allow even a few dozen additional students at McKitrick would eliminate the classroom space created by Hammond's opening, said Steve Ayers, director of pupil administrative services for the school district.

Schwarzkopf and Citrus Park are currently 12 percent and 2 percent over capacity, and McKitrick is 6 percent over capacity.

Even with the new boundaries, Citrus Park will be at capacity and Schwarzkopf will still have a classroom deficit, Ayers said. But McKitrick will have a few available classrooms.

"Montreux feels a connection to (McKitrick), which is a good thing ... but we still must meet class-size reduction requirements," Ayers said.

The board's decision left Jodi Labban perplexed. She said she might try school choice to get her child a spot at McKitrick, and if that doesn't work, she may look into private school.

"And I don't know that I can afford it," she said.