School district still tweaking elementary zones

Students from Hidden Oak Elementary School head home for the summer on the last day of school in Gainesville, Fla., Tuesday, June 7, 2011.

Erica Brough/Staff photographer
Published: Monday, January 9, 2012 at 6:57 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 9, 2012 at 6:57 p.m.

Alachua County Public Schools officials on Monday worked until the 11th hour to prepare new iterations of the elementary school zoning map.

The School Board will see several zoning plans that affect northwest Gainesville schools during a workshop at 9 a.m. Tuesday, the last workshop before the plan heads to public hearings and a final vote in February.

Deputy Superintendent Sandy Hollinger said late Monday that keeping the capacities in each school balanced presents a challenge.

“We have to give our best estimate of what we think is going to happen,” she said. “If you put people in or you have to take people out, you have to balance everything.”

Nearly a dozen elementary schools will be affected by the new school lines, necessitated by the construction of an elementary school on Northwest 39th Avenue west of Interstate 75.

“It's a domino effect,” Hollinger said, “because once you move something, you have to move something else. Then you have to step back and look at the bigger picture.”

Many of the schools affected have long suffered from overcrowding, such as Hidden Oak Elementary School at 115 percent capacity.

Officials will discuss how the new school's zone could include several area neighborhoods previously left out.

During public input forums held in December, residents of the Belmont, Caraway and Steeplechase neighborhoods asked to be included in the new school's zone, citing convenience and safety. Currently, those students are zoned for area schools such as Newberry Elementary.

“We were very appreciative that people came to the input sessions,” Hollinger said. “We don't have our numbers quite right yet.”

Soon, officials won't have to refer to the new school as “Elementary School H.” Hollinger said she plans to present a recommended name. Names submitted by the public have included Meadowbrook, Joe T. Hudson and Margaret Rosenberger Elementary.

A principal is scheduled to be named during the Jan. 17 regular School Board meeting.

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