School boundary change draws ire

Many parents voice concerns about a shift that would affect more than 1,000 students.

By AMBER MOBLEY, Times Staff Writer
Published January 24, 2008

TAMPA - A plan to shift attendance boundaries for five middle schools in northwestern Hillsborough County to fill a new middle school set to open in August has some parents riled.

About 300 attended a meeting with school officials Wednesday night, and as district officials presented the proposed changes, many in the audience said they are worried about siblings being separated, children having to change schools during their final year in middle school and having to attend a C-school instead of an A-school.

The new boundaries would move more than 1,000 students at five nearby middle schools.

In general, students living east of Sheldon Road, west of Hutchison Road, north of W Waters Avenue and south of subdivisions that access Ehrlich Road would go to Sgt. Paul Smith Middle School. An Army sergeant who grew up in Tampa, Smith was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism in Iraq.

The new school will help the county meet the state's mandate to reduce class sizes by shifting students at Davidsen, Farnell, Martinez, Walker and Webb middle schools. All but Webb are over their capacities.

Most parents speaking at the meeting did not want their children attending Webb, a C-school. Davidsen is a B-school while Walker, Martinez and Farnell are all A-schools.

Steve Ayers, director of pupil administrative services, said he would take the objections up with the district superintendent.

The boundaries are not yet official.

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