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School zoning changes get preliminary approval

The Pinellas County School Board gave initial approval Tuesday to proposed school zoning changes that will affect about 900 middle and high school students in the fall.

The 7-0 vote came after only five parents objected to the changes, which will affect five of 15 high schools and 11 of 16 middle schools.

The final vote will be Feb. 8.

Two issues are likely to get more discussion before then. The first: grandfathering siblings.

Several parents asked the board to consider allowing their younger children to follow an older sibling into a school that would no longer be their home school.

"I don't think it's fair for siblings to be split," said Mariusz Baginski, who lives in the Highland Woods neighborhood.

Under the proposed changes, Baginski's oldest daughter would continue to attend Palm Harbor University High, but his youngest, now at Palm Harbor Middle, would end up at Dunedin High.

At least one board member sympathized, but most were mum on the sibling issue. Board chairwoman Carol Cook said it's possible the plan could be tweaked to accommodate siblings but, "I didn't get the sense the board was going to change this position."

"At some point in time, the grandfathering has to be phased out … to stop the ebb and flow of boundaries," she said.

The second issue: continued tweaking of the zoning lines.

Board members raised questions about a few of the proposed new zones, including the one for Palm Harbor University High.

Member Peggy O'Shea strongly argued in the past that too many families who live close to that school can't send their children there because the school is overcrowded and zoning lines around it have been drawn so tight. She said Tuesday the additions to that zone were not as big as she had expected.

Deputy superintendent Jim Madden said more discussion about that was likely either at a workshop or a retreat the board has slated for early February. "I think it needs to be further vetted," he said.

The district is also reworking zoning lines for elementary schools, but no proposed changes have surfaced. Madden said he expected those maps to be near completion by the end of the month.

Ron Matus can be reached at matus@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8873.

See the proposal

To see the maps showing the proposed zoning changes for middle and high schools, go to pcsb.org and scroll through PCS news.

School zoning changes get preliminary approval 01/11/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 11, 2011 11:10pm]
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