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Parents will soon glimpse proposed school boundaries

Published Dec. 1, 2006

For some parents who moved to Tampa's suburbs for certain schools, big surprises are in store during the next few weeks as letters arrive from the school district proposing new school boundaries.

The Hillsborough County School District is unveiling proposals to redraw school attendance boundaries as it scurries to meet a state mandate to lower classroom sizes in two years.

All parents should receive letters in the mail early next week notifying them of the proposed boundary changes and dates for community meetings.

The proposals aren't final, and district officials stressed the importance of receiving community feedback before anything is approved.

About two dozen schools in eastern Hillsborough County would be affected by the proposed changes. If approved, the changes would take effect starting in the fall of 2007 and running through 2009.

The changes call for moving students from crowded schools to other schools that have more capacity or to new schools.

Districtwide plans call for adding classroom wings to 44 schools in the next five years and building 15 new schools.

But the bricks and mortar won't be enough to reduce classroom sizes, district officials say. Boundary changes are brought in when there's no other option.

"Classroom space is badly needed in the district,'' said Bill Person, who directs student placement in Hillsborough schools.

He sympathizes with parents who will have to move children out of schools with high standardized test scores to ones with lower scores.

Still, he said, that concern can't stop the district from meeting the state mandate to reduce class sizes.

"We can't allow the district to be out of compliance,'' he said.

Laurie Conover, whose son is in the first grade at Sessums Elementary, said she will be disappointed if he has to start attending Riverview Elementary, but she understands.

"He's made a lot of friends at the school and he likes it,'' she said.

But she understands that families who live closer to the school should get first consideration.

By starting the notification process early, the district hopes to avoid the uproar that occurred during recent boundary changes in the northwest county. Parents complained of short notice.

Person said that with advance warning, parents can air their concerns and also have time to find day care near their children's schools.

Boundaries for some neighborhoods will be drawn before homes are built.

Fast Facts

Who would shift to where

- Schmidt Elementary to Kenly Elementary. Meeting held last night.

- Mulrennan Middle School to Mann Middle School and Durant High School to Brandon High School. Meetings for both at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 11 at Brandon High School. Changes would start in fall 2007.

- Sessums Elementary to Riverview Elementary. Meeting at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 13 at Sessums. Change for 2008.

- Yates and Mintz to Kings- wood Elementary. Change for 2008. Meeting date to be determined.

- Bevis and Boyette Springs

to new elementary school. Change for 2008. Meeting date to be determined. - Randall, Rodgers and Eisenhower to new middle school. Change for 2008. Meeting date to be determined.

- Cypress Creek and Wimauma to new elementary. Change for 2008. Meeting date to be determined.

- Dover, Cork, Bryan and Valrico to new elementary school. Change for 2009. Meeting date to be determined.

- Armwood, Plant City and Durant to new high school. Change for 2009. Meeting date to be determined.