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School opening to relieve overcrowding

Ben Hill Middle and Walker Middle will benefit most when the new middle school opens at the end of the summer.

When Pete Davidsen Middle School opens in August, two other north Tampa middle schools will notice a significant drop in student numbers and become virtually free of portable classrooms.

Ben Hill Middle School will be one of the big winners when its enrollment will drop to about 1,170, about the number of students it was originally designed for. Had Davidsen Middle not been built, the enrollment would have been nearly 1,600.

"That's significant," said Ben Hill principal Nancy Anderson. "So our building will be able to handle that number now. Supposedly, we will not have those (12) portables, which will be wonderful."

Walker Middle School is expected to experience a similar decline as Davidsen absorbs some of its students. Davidsen's feeder schools will be Westchase, Bellamy and Lowery elementary schools.

"We're finally getting to the point where we're at or below capacity," said Bill Person, the school district's director of pupil assignment. "That's why we're building schools so fast. It would be nice if we could get all of our schools' children in fixed classes instead of portables."

The only drawback to Davidsen's opening is that existing schools will also lose some teachers.

"I'm losing some really good teachers," Anderson said. "And I'm losing some good students. It's hard to share, but it's a workable size for our building."

_ Logan D. Mabe can be reached at 226-3464 or