Thousands of Pinellas students may have to change schools
More than 18,000 Pinellas elementary school students would be forced to change schools next year under a plan that the Pinellas School Board gave tentative approval to today.
Most of the students affected are currently in schools they got into under the old choice plan; they did not move to their new zone school when the student assignment system was changed last year. But thousands of additional students will probably be affected as well because the district plans to redraw the entire zone map for elementary schools. That means students sitting in their zone school now could be redrawn out of that zone and reassigned to a new school.
The message to families with a child in a regular Pinellas elementary school next year: No matter your situation, assume nothing about what your school will be.
The move, which still must be formally approved, is part of an effort to reduce busing costs for the district and help address a projected $40-million shortfall.
The board also tentatively decided to close five elementary schools next year: Gulf Beaches, Kings Highway, North Ward, Palm Harbor and Rio Vista.
Board members expect a strong reaction from parents. "We have to strap in because it's going to be a rough ride," board member Carol Cook said.
Said board member Mary Brown: "We've got to go back to the drawing board and tell parents, 'What we gave you last year, we can't afford to do it any more."
- Thomas C. Tobin, Times Staff Writer