LITHIA — More than 300 parents turned out Jan. 14 to ask questions and raise concerns about new proposed school boundaries.
For parents and students at Lithia Springs Elementary School, there was good news: Only a handful of students will be moved to the new Stowers Elementary for the 2009-10 school year. Parents of students at other schools, including Rogers, Randall and Eisenhower middle schools and Boyette Springs Elementary, learned that more than 200 children from each of those schools will be moved due to overcrowding.
The new schools, Stowers Elementary and Barrington Middle, are being built in the new Circa FishHawk development near FishHawk Ranch. While student population growth has been glacial, the schools will open at about 45 percent capacity because so many kids are being shifted from crowded schools.
Victoria Wilson, who lives in the Riverglen development off Boyette Road, said her child will have to deal with a much longer trip to Stowers instead of Boyette Springs. The bus ride, she said, will be lengthened even more by ongoing work on Boyette Road.
"I don't want my child in that mess. I don't want their children in that mess. These issues need to be addressed," she said.
Some students at Bevis and FishHawk Creek elementaries will also be affected by the shifting boundaries. The new elementary school will draw students from a portion of the Bevis attendance area that is undeveloped and move 69 Bevis students to FishHawk Creek. Sixty-one FishHawk Creek students will be assigned to Stowers.
Among those voicing their concern were parents of FishHawk Creek students who were previously moved from Bevis due to the last growth spurt about five years ago. They will now be a part of the group that will be asked to move back to Bevis.
Others who live near Dorman and Browning roads in FishHawk Ranch were distressed by the fact that their children will be passing several elementary schools along the 8-mile route to Stowers.
"We're trying to balance immediate needs and long-term goals," said Steve Ayers, the school district's director of community and parent relations, noting that it's a five-year plan that factors in school utilization and considers population projections up to 20 years out.
Ayers said parents can call him if they are uncertain about the proposed boundaries. Their comments will be presented to the superintendent, and further discussion will take place at a public meeting of school officials at 3 p.m. Tuesday at district offices, 901 E Kennedy Blvd, Tampa.
There also are options for parents who don't like their child's new designated school. They can get information about the school choice program by visiting the district's Web site.