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Hernando School Board to consider plan for new K-8's attendance zone

BROOKSVILLE — As the massive concrete walls of the Hernando district's new K-8 school rise from the sand, the school's attendance boundaries are taking shape, too.

The School Board on Tuesday will consider an initial proposal for an attendance zone for the yet-to-be named school on U.S. 19, about 5 miles north of State Road 50. The elementary portion of the school next door to Weeki Wachee High is set to open in the fall. The earliest the middle school section would open is fall 2012.

Already, however, plans are being made to shuffle nearly 2,000 students among several schools.

Superintendent Bryan Blavatt was quick to emphasize that the recommendation from the district's rezoning committee is a starting point in a process that will include plenty of opportunity for parents to weigh in.

"We really don't have anything written in stone at this point," he said. "All we're doing is bringing what the scenarios are and getting public input to do it. It's a transparent process and one where people are invited to take part and help."

But the proposal from the committee, which is composed of district staffers and community members, offers a general sense of where the new boundaries are likely to fall and which existing schools will see the biggest impact.

The plan would shift more than 1,100 elementary students and about 860 middle school students to new schools. Though the middle school portion will not open in the fall, the committee looked at the boundaries at the same time. That makes sense since elementary schools feed the middle schools, and two existing schools, Challenger and Explorer, are K-8 facilities, said Amber Wheeler, the district's manager of planning and growth management.

The boundaries for Pine Grove, Westside, Brooksville and Moton elementary schools would see the most significant changes. Among the shifts under the recommended proposal:

• 586 students assigned to Pine Grove would move to the new school.

• 160 Westside students would move to the new school, and 47 Westside students would shift to Deltona Elementary.

• 189 Moton students would move to Pine Grove.

• 41 Brooksville Elementary students would head to Pine Grove, and 25 would shift to Moton.

Under this proposal, the new school would open with as many as 510 elementary students, Wheeler said. Fourth-graders headed to fifth grade next year would be allowed to stay at their current schools, but families would have to provide transportation.

Powell, West Hernando and Fox Chapel middle schools are expected to see the most significant impact.

About 340 West Hernando students and 100 Fox Chapel students would shift to the new school. Roughly 155 Powell students would move to West Hernando, and about 80 Fox Chapel students would shift to Powell.

The recommendation leaves the current magnet programs in place, but the board has the option to turn Challenger and Chocachatti Elementary into neighborhood schools.

The district uses geographic mapping software to come up with the boundaries based on parameters such as how far students would have to travel to their respective schools.

But that technology also needs to be complemented by feedback from parents, Wheeler said. The first of two public meetings is set for 6 p.m. Dec. 21 at Westside.

"Parents are the eyes and ears on the street," Wheeler said. "We want to get as much input as we can."

Tony Marrero can be reached at (352) 848-1431 or tmarrero@sptimes.com.

>>Fast facts

School rezoning: What's next?

• Tuesday: The School Board will consider an initial recommendation for new elementary and middle school boundaries. The workshop begins at 2 p.m. at school district headquarters, 919 N Broad St., Brooksville.

• 6 p.m. Dec. 21: First public meeting, Westside Elementary, 5400 Applegate Drive, Spring Hill.

• 6 p.m. Jan. 6: Second public meeting, Pine Grove Elementary, 14411 Ken Austin Parkway, Brooksville.

• Jan. 11: First School Board vote

• Feb. 15: Final School Board vote

On the Web

To see the recommended boundary zones to be considered Tuesday by the School Board:

• Go to hernandoschools.org.

• Click on the School Board link on the left menu.

• Find the E-Agenda section at the center of the page and click on the link for Tuesday's workshop.

• Find agenda item No. 3 and click on the second link to download the PowerPoint presentation.

Hernando School Board to consider plan for new K-8's attendance zone 12/10/10 [Last modified: Friday, December 10, 2010 8:25pm]
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