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Pinellas schools' busing, racial mix open to change

In what could be a historic step, the Pinellas County School Board unanimously approved a plan Tuesday night to increase the percentage of black students in schools here and extend the number of years that children could be bused.

With the first action, members increased from 30 percent to 35 percent the number of black children allowed in public schools.

Under the second, children who are now shifted every two years would remain in the same school for up to six years.

Tuesday's vote was the first step in a long process as the district tries to alter the 26-year-old federal court order governing desegregation in Pinellas public schools.

Changing the schools' racial cap and busing patternsrequires approval from various groups and individuals, including a federal judge.

The earliest the plan might be realized is the 1998-99 school year.