Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Education

Rezoning, again, is suggested for Hillsborough schools

TAMPA — After a long discussion about the attendance boundaries for Warren Hope Dawson Elementary School, the Hillsborough County School Board decided it's time to look at zoning for all the district schools.

This isn't the first time the words "rezoning" and "boundary changes" have come up for discussion. In September, the board agreed to pay the Tindale Oliver consulting firm $97,000 for a study that forecasts future growth trends that will affect school enrollment.

But on Tuesday, after approving the Dawson boundaries, board members agreed a holistic look is long overdue.

"We have a long road ahead of us," said chairwoman Cindy Stuart.

A workshop is scheduled April 18. By that time, the Tindale Oliver study should be complete.

"We need to take a comprehensive look at our schools," member April Griffin said. "We need to look at the schools that are under capacity and make strategic decisions, but it's going to be painful."

The district also needs to take a critical look at programs that are costly, but are not producing results, Griffin said. The Tampa Bay Times reported this week that more than a dozen magnet schools, which bus students from all corners of the large district are rated C or D, racially segregated, under-utilized or, in some cases, all three.

The plan adopted Tuesday affects Boyette Springs, Collins, Sessums, Stowers, Summerfield and Fishhawk Creek elementary schools.

Some of these schools -- Collins and Sessums in particular -- will emerge at or above capacity.

And none of this is final.

District officials plan to monitor population growth from year to year, along with the affect of area charter schools, and could change the boundaries again.

" I know that community very well," said Superintendent Jeff Eakins. "It's growing and it's growing rapidly. It's almost like an annual take-a-look kind of an issue for us."

Contact Marlene Sokol at (813) 810-5068 or [email protected] Follow @marlenesokol.

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