TAMPA — The Hillsborough School Board on Tuesday approved a sweeping set of high school boundary changes that will force about 3,800 students to change schools.
The opening of two new high schools, Steinbrenner in Lutz and Strawberry Crest in Dover, touched off boundary changes affecting six others — Sickles, Alonso, Gaither, Armwood, Durant and Plant City.
The new boundaries do not apply to rising high school seniors. They may stay at their current schools through graduation.
School boundary changes often elicit emotional protests from students and parents, but board members heard no objections before Tuesday's final vote. They credited a new process, which looked to an outside firm to help develop the initial set of boundaries based on numbers and not neighborhood politics.
Later, school officials went back and tweaked the original proposal, deciding to allow more than 400 students at Sickles and Durant high schools to stay there. The move addressed complaints aired in community meetings, as well as concerns that the existing schools could see enrollment drop too low.
"We've taken the best of both worlds, put them together, to come out with a recommendation that is never going to be perfect," board member Doretha Edgecomb said.
Board members noted that school choice, which allows students to attend schools outside their attendance zones, remains an option for the Lutz families who lobbied unsuccessfully to be moved from Freedom High School in New Tampa to a school closer to home.
The district plans to open a special choice period March 3-13 for families affected by the high school boundary changes.