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Let the search begin!

Welcome to School Search. For the third year, we are devoting an entire issue of Neighborhood Times to this important subject.

School Search is designed as a guide to help parents and students know how to choose the best school for them.

To help you sort things out, we list all schools in south Pinellas, we explain the different offerings and programs at each level from kindergarten through senior high school, we print test scores at each of the schools, and we talk to folks who have been through all of this and can now offer advice, and we suggest some strategies to pick what is best for you.

In the end, though, the choice is yours and yours alone. Our goal is simply to give you enough information to make the decision a tad more manageable.

Because of the sheer size of School Search, we are postponing our regular features _ the police reports, columns and such _ until Wednesday's issue.

School Search has been months in the making. Reporters Shelby Oppel and Jounice Nealy researched and wrote the stories.

V. Jane Windsor made the photographs. Catherine Flaherty compiled all of the information about individual schools. And a group of editors too numerous to mention read through and checked all of the information.

In our third year of the section, we have tried to organize the material more logically by assembling a step-by-step guide for gathering information about each kind of school.

Keep in mind that new busing rotations for public schools will be discussed later this month, so some school zones and assignments will be changing.

There is another change, this one long-term. If a judge agrees to a plan put forward by the School Board and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, a decades-old federal desegregation order would end in the years to come. We explain when that might affect your choices.

We hope the information helps makes sense of it all. But don't delay. Deadlines loom in just a few weeks for many of the programs.

Happy searching!

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