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East Lake students may attend new school

(ran SE edition of LT)

The boundaries aren't drawn yet, but most of the students attending Palm Harbor University High School when it opens in 1996 may come from East Lake instead of Palm Harbor, Pinellas County School Superintendent Howard Hinesley said Monday.

Hinesley said the new school will relieve East Lake High School, which, if current projections hold, would have about 2,500 students by August 1996 without the new school taking some of them.

"The majority of growth is over in the East Lake area. It's the largest high school in the county and continues to grow," Hinesley said.

"I've said from the very beginning that this was going to be an issue."

There also will be two magnet programs at Palm Harbor University High School that will take up about half of the new school's 1,600 student slots. Magnet students will be selected from across Pinellas County.

Generally speaking, students who live west of U.S. 19 and north of Curlew Road go to Tarpon Springs High School and kids east of U.S. 19 and north of Curlew Road attend East Lake High School.

The zoning process to determine who goes to Palm Harbor University High School will not begin until October 1995, said planning specialist Marlene Mueller.

"Demographics change too much to do much more than simple thinking," Mueller said. "It's frustrating. I've had a number of people call already."

Plans for the school already have generated controversy in Palm Harbor because the school system originally proposed to name it "University High School" in recognition of some college courses that will be offered there.

Under protests led by the Palm Harbor Chamber of Commerce, the future school's name was changed to "University High School at Palm Harbor" and finally "Palm Harbor University High School."

But some Palm Harbor parents said it is too early to be alarmed about the school's zoning. They said they are waiting to get all the facts.

"I know that many parents in the community are looking forward to that high school," said Lisa Larsen, parent co-chairwoman of the Palm Harbor Middle School Advisory Committee. Larsen's daughter is an eighth grader at the middle school. "They're (parents) just anxious to hear what the boundaries are. Personally, I'd be disappointed if my child can't go to the new school."

"We'll just have to wait and see where they draw the lines," said Peggy O'Shea, chairwoman of the SAC committee at Carwise Middle School. She has two children attending Carwise. "It hasn't been a big issue yet, but I'm sure it will be."

Hinesley said parents will have an opportunity to participate in talks determining the zone.

"It's never very easy to determine boundaries," Hinesley said.

The $27-million Palm Harbor University High School eventually will have 2,400 students during the day and University of South Florida commuter students at night. Its 11 buildings will sit on 78 acres north of Pennsylvania Avenue and east of Alt. U.S. 19.

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