Hillsborough high school boundaries to be revised

TAMPA — Sweeping revisions to high school boundaries across Hillsborough County are coming in the near future, particularly for South Tampa's crowded Plant High.

So warned the chairwoman of the School Board Tuesday night.

"We are going to look at all high schools, including Plant," Jennifer Faliero said.

Popular Plant has been packed with students for years, even as seats sit empty at adjacent Robinson High and other nearby schools. The district needs to make better use of that space, Faliero said.

"That's going to be a big battle because Plant has such a rich history," she said. "It is coming, and they need to be aware of that."

Her comments came after the board approved a $142,000 contract with an outside consultant, SeerAnalytics, to help develop data-driven boundaries for two high schools opening in the northwest and east county.

Nine high schools could be affected along the way. Sickles High will see the greatest changes from the fall opening of Steinbrenner High School in Lutz, but Gaither, Alonso and perhaps Leto and Freedom also could be affected.

A new high school in the Dover area is expected to bring boundary changes for Durant High and potentially Plant City and Armwood high schools.

Hillsborough does not expect to open another high school for two decades.

School officials face crowding in some areas, but have thousands of empty seats in others. They must meet the tightening grip of class size limits and want to eliminate portables.

"Now that growth is slowing, we have seats. They're just not always where parents want them," said Bill Person, general director of student placement. "Since we're not opening any schools for two to three years, it's a perfect opportunity to correct some of the problems."

Working with the consultants, Person said the district hopes to develop boundary standards that can be applied impartially around the county. The charge is to balance transportation costs and staffing efficiency with the goal of retaining diversity in schools.

Faliero pointed directly to South Tampa as high on the list for future scrutiny. She noted this region has been left alone for years, while the rest of the county endured boundary changes.

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 high school boundaries to be revised 10/07/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 14, 2008 6:54am]

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