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Four new schools in eastern Hillsborough are a nod to the future

LITHIA — Four new schools are scheduled to open next fall in eastern Hillsborough County.

While the new buildings — two schools in the Lake Hutto area of Lithia, and another two near Interstate 4 and McIntosh Road in Dover — aren't expected to drastically change students' assigned schools, some kids will be going elsewhere.

The main goal is to prepare the area for future growth, said Bill Person, student placement director for Hillsborough schools.

"We've been working on the attendance boundaries, and have been meeting with small groups of parents and principals," Person said. "If we're successful, we'll provide relief from future growth and get (existing schools) at or below capacity."

At Lake Hutto, a planned community adjacent to FishHawk Ranch, an elementary and a middle school are under construction next to each other. While development has slowed, the schools will provide space for future students.

Both schools are expected to open with low enrollment.

The middle school will help relieve overcrowding at Eisenhower, Randall and Rodgers. The new elementary school is expected to have the most impact on Boyette Springs, but could also affect students at FishHawk Creek, Bevis, Lithia Springs and, possibly, Pinecrest.

"The closer you live to the new school and the farther away you are from the old one, the chances are greater that you'll be reassigned," Person said.

Parents shouldn't panic, he said. For example, word has spread around FishHawk Creek that children there will definitely be sent to another school.

Boundary changes might mean that children will instead be assigned to FishHawk, he said.

"The district isn't saying 'this' or 'that,' " Person said. "I don't know (the final plan) and we're the ones who make the decisions."

When it comes to the elementary and high school under construction at I-4 and McIntosh Road, boundary changes could be more significant.

The new elementary will be used to "domino" students from surrounding schools, Person explained.

Students at Cork, Knights, Lopez, Bryan and Dover could be moved depending on the number of empty seats left by students shifted to the new school.

"Here, we're looking to provide relief at the schools surrounding the new elementary and those that aren't necessarily adjacent," Person said.

Meanwhile, the high school will relieve crowded classrooms at Plant City and Durant. It will also help steer future growth away from Armwood.

Though destined to be the home of an International Baccalaureate program, the school district expects some grumbling when it comes to older students and their parents.

"Not everyone wants to go to a brand new high school," Person said.

By November, parents should be able to learn about final proposals for the elementary and middle schools. After public input, the School Board is expected vote before the holiday break in December.

Decisions about the new high school boundaries won't debut until the new year. Meetings will be scheduled in January.

Chandra Broadwater can be reached at, or 661-2454.

Four new schools in eastern Hillsborough are a nod to the future 10/30/08 [Last modified: Friday, October 31, 2008 6:18pm]
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