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Parents concerned with zoning for new Parrish schools

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PARRISH, FL (WWSB) - The Parrish community is growing quickly. The School District of Manatee County says 21 out of 45 of its schools are over capacity, including all schools in the Parrish area.

That's why the district plans to open an elementary, middle, and high school next August, but some parents are concerned their kids won't be able to attend their new community school.

"There's a little patch of Parrish that's not allowed to send their kids to community schools and it's time for that to change," said MiMi Sheffer, a parent of two kids in Harrison Ranch.

Hundreds of homes in Parrish's Harrison Ranch development are currently zoned for students to attend Blackburn Elementary. The school is six miles away from Harrison Ranch, while Williams Elementary is only 4 miles away, and Virgil Mills is only a 3 mile drive.

"We still have elementary aged children that are on buses an hour and a half to school and an hour and a half home while there's an elementary school two miles from their home," explained Dr. Scott Hopes, Chairman of the Manatee County School Board.

Sheffer's kids are grandfathered in to attending Williams, but her neighbors worry they won't be zoned for Parrish's new Barbara A. Harvey Elementary School.

"It makes more sense to change the zoning to allow those children to go to a school that's close," stated Sheffer.

"Parents obviously chose a neighborhood because of the schools they anticipated their child going to," understands Dr. Hopes.

Hopes says the school board approved rezoning plans for the middle and high school, and will finalize plans for the elementary school next month, with plans to prioritize school locations to minimize drive time. The board says the new schools will make it easier for students to enroll outside of their zone through school choice.

Sheffer says she wants her kids to be able to attend the school in their community but is prepared for history to repeat itself as the area continues to grow.

"It's almost as if we need to plan for more schools in the area really soon," said Sheffer.