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Class-size pressures could shift school's boundaries in Tampa

TAMPA — Florida's class-size amendment may push some Hillsborough County students from one elementary school to another, officials said Tuesday.

"James Elementary is over capacity and very tight," said William Person, general director of pupil placement. "And Robles Elementary is sitting about a mile and a half north with vacant classrooms."

Under a proposed boundary change, James students who live north of Hillsborough Avenue and east of 56th Street in Tampa would move to Robles this fall.

The idea — which would affect around 57 current James students — will be discussed at a parent meeting March 24, and then sent to superintendent MaryEllen Elia and the School Board for possible adoption.

"We're seeking community input before it goes any further," Person said.

If approved, it would be Hillsborough's first boundary change to comply with the final stage of the 2002 class-size constitutional amendment. Districts have spent around $16 billion to carry out the law, which limits school enrollment to 18 students per teacher in prekindergarten through third grade, 22 students in fourth through eighth grade, and 25 students in high school.

It might not be the last change, Person said. Officials are struggling with crowding at Cypress Creek Elementary and closely watching numbers at Bloomingdale and Alonso high schools.

"We may be able to go another year," he said of the situation at those schools. "If things are looking worse, we'll reopen this process of looking at boundaries."

But the wait appears to be over at James, where students are crammed into portable classrooms and competing for space with a prekindergarten program.

"There's no need to put (James) through that kind of stress year after year, when we've got available seats up there at Robles," Person said.

The parent meeting to discuss the possible boundary change will be held at 6:30 p.m. March 24 at James Elementary School.

Tom Marshall can be reached at tmarshall@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3400.

Class-size pressures could shift school's boundaries in Tampa 03/15/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 15, 2011 11:41pm]
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