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Hillsborough County School Board revises plans for attendance zone changes

TAMPA — More than 400 students don't have to change schools anymore now that district officials have revised plans for a sweeping overhaul of high school boundaries in northwest and eastern Hillsborough County.

The new attendance zones, which School Board members are scheduled to vote on Tuesday, address some complaints aired by parents after proposed changes were unveiled.

In the northwest county, about 200 students living south of Hutchison Road, east of Sickles High, get to stay at Sickles. The neighborhood had been slated to transfer to Steinbrenner High, when the new school opens in August in Lutz.

The eastern Hillsborough change centers around the community in the northern part of the Durant High boundary, around Trapnell Elementary and Turkey Creek Middle.

About 230 children there were slated to move from Durant to Plant City High, which is closer to their homes. But families asked to be allowed to stay at Durant. School officials decided to grant that wish.

"We do listen," said Bill Person, Hillsborough's general director for student placement. "But quite often we don't get credit for listening."

He said that school officials were concerned that both Sickles and Durant would have fallen too far below their capacities under the original boundary change proposal.

The schools, which are currently overcrowded, could have ended up using less than 80 percent of their available seats. Now the schools would get relief from the boundary changes, but still have the enrollment to support key programs, Person said.

The bulk of the district's proposal to shift boundaries remains intact. The opening of two new schools, Steinbrenner in Lutz and Strawberry Crest High in Dover, has touched off boundary changes for six others — Sickles, Alonso, Gaither, Armwood, Durant and Plant City.

More than 3,600 students still would have to change schools under the revised proposal, which does not affect rising high school seniors. They can stay at their current schools through graduation, but rising juniors and sophomores would have to heed boundary changes.

School officials say that new maps, reflecting the proposal going to the School Board, will be available online at classsize.mysdhc.org/. But they may not be available until Friday. Families with questions can call Steve Ayers, director of community and parent relations, at (813) 272-4091.

Letitia Stein can be reached at lstein@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3400. For more education news, visit the Gradebook at blogs.tampabay.com/schools.

Hillsborough County School Board revises plans for attendance zone changes 02/03/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 3, 2009 11:51pm]
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