WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. (WTSP) – As a population boom in Pasco County brings in more students, the school district is moving forward with efforts to rezone school boundaries to deal with overcrowding.
On Friday, a boundary committee inclusive of parents, educators and administrators will meet for the first time to discuss plans to even out the student population across the district.
According to district spokeswoman Linda Cobbe, the district has anticipated having to deal with the excessive growth for at least five years. Part of the solution will be opening an elementary and a high school for the 2017-2018 school year alleviate overcrowding at Wiregrass Ranch High School, John Long Middle School as well as Oakstead and Odessa elementary schools.
The other, more challenging part of the solution will be redrawing boundaries for thousands of students and dealing with the ire of parents frustrated about having to relocate their children to a new school. “That always happens every time, even though we’re opening a brand new school,” said Cobbe. “You have parents who love their school. They’re used to it. Their children are used to it. It’s close, they’ve developed relationships. We are always going to have that problem with parents who just don’t want change.”
Parents have asked the district to come up with alternative solutions to rezoning, such adding new wings or portable classrooms to overpopulated schools. However, Cobbe said the Pasco County Schools does not have the funds to do that. Additionally, she said state law will not allow the district to add more new schools when other schools within have capacity.
“When the state looks at having new schools, they look at capacity across the district. And when they see that we have schools that are significantly under capacity, in the same area as a school that’s significantly over capacity, they expect us to rezone the attendance area so that the other schools in that area are closer to their capacity,” said Cobbe.
The first rezoning committee meeting will take place on Friday at Wesley Chapel High School at 10:30. This meeting is for the new high school that will help with crowding at Wiregrass Ranch High and John Long Middle. It is open to the public, but comment will not be accepted until the parent meeting in November.
The next meeting will take place at Oakstead Elementary School on September 26. This will be for the new elementary school that will alleviate crowding at Oakstead and Odessa.
Emerald Morrow is a reporter with 10News WTSP. Like her on Facebook and follow her on Instagram and Twitter. You can also email her at email@example.com.