Parents, staff evaluate school boundary changes

- School locations for 4,000 kids is up in the air in Hillsborough County. The district is set to present a plan to the board that changes the zoning for 15 schools in the northern part of the county.

Derick Sanks, a 9-year-old student at Cahoon, admits he is nervous about it.

"I am kind of shy a little bit," he said. "I would have to make all new friends."

At an open house Tuesday, held by the district to teach parents and kids about their new schools, Angela Lawrence said she was afraid her son wouldn't be like his four siblings, who all attended Cahoon.

"They are used to being taught a certain way, if it changes, they won't know what to do, they will be upset," said Lawrence.

The district is playing merry-go-round with Cahoon, Forest Hills, Greco, Heritage, Hunter's Green, Mort, MOSI, Pizzo, Pride, Shaw, Van Buren and Witter.

MOSI's move to downtown leaves 800 kids in need of a new space, and 1,500 homes being put up in New Tampa squeezes the seats they already have.

"If people were wanting to leave a school, I would see that as a negative," said Chris Farkas, the district's chief operating officer. "But the fact that they are tied to that school and tied to that principal and the teachers that are there, I would say that we are doing something right."

One change though is concerning parents at Cahoon, which is expected to be merged with Van Buren and have its magnet status taken away.

"They are not going to uphold the same standard our magnet school upholds," said Julie Johanboeke, the PTA president at Cahoon.

The district promises the same standards, and that students will have equal chances to apply to a magnet or choice school. But parents admit worst-case scenarios are hard to ignore.

"They get displaced. Their grades drop," said Lawrence. "They are not so open to talk to anyone if they need help."

The district says travel time to school will be cut down by as much as 25 minutes in some cases.

The board will vote on the proposal in May and it won't take effect until the 2018 school year

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