Enrollment growth in Pasco highest since recession

Drive through Pasco County and it’s easy to see the signs of growth.

New houses are popping up in subdivisions. New apartment complexes are being built, and land is being cleared for more development.

And now that school is back in session, some of that growth is beginning to show up in classrooms, too.

These children are among the 718 students who arrived at Sanders Memorial STEAM Magnet Elementary School on the first day of classes in the 2015-2016 school year. This is the Pasco County school district’s first magnet school. (Courtesy of Sanders Memorial STEAM Magnet School)

These children are among the 718 students who arrived at Sanders Memorial STEAM Magnet Elementary School on the first day of classes in the 2015-2016 school year. This is the Pasco County school district’s first magnet school.
(Courtesy of Sanders Memorial STEAM Magnet School)

For the first time since 2007, the enrollment figures for the first day of school in Pasco County Schools increased by more than 1,000 students compared to the first day of school during the previous year.

Countywide, the district’s enrollment was 66,059, on the first day of classes, not counting four schools that had not yet submitted enrollment figures.

District schools gained a total of 1,138 students, while charter schools operating in the county picked up 441 — bringing the total to 1,579.

The increased enrollment exceeded the district’s expectations. Officials had projected an increase of 1,490.

Elementary schools experienced the biggest gain, picking up 672 more than last year. Middle schools experienced a slight decline, tallying seven fewer students than the previous year, and high schools gained 526.

The district’s education centers also saw a slight decrease, dropping by 53 students.

Some schools experienced increases, while others saw declines across The Laker/Lutz News coverage area.

The opening of Sanders Memorial STEAM Magnet School, with 718 students, in Land O’ Lakes had an impact on enrollments at several area schools.

Connerton Elementary School’s first day enrollment was 770, down from last year’s first-day count of 890.

Oakstead Elementary also experienced a decline from its enrollment of 1,123 on the first day of school last year, compared with 1,000 this year.

Pine View Elementary, also in Land O’ Lakes, reported an opening day enrollment of 530, down 100 students from the prior year.

Lake Myrtle Elementary, also located in Land O’ Lakes, had a decline of 73 students, going from 639 last year to 566 this year.

Denham Oaks Elementary, in Lutz, saw its enrollment drop by 56 students, going from 669 last year to 613 this year.

Other schools experienced enrollment declines as Quail Hollow Elementary reopened in Wesley Chapel, with 380 students on its first day.

Watergrass Elementary School’s first-day enrollment of 592 reflects a decrease of 114 students from its first-day figure last year.

Wesley Chapel Elementary’s first-day enrollment dropped by 191 students, as compared to last year.

Two elementary schools reported enrollment gains of 50 students or more. Sand Pine Elementary, in Wesley Chapel, increased by 51 students and Woodland Elementary, in Zephyrhills, experienced an uptick of 83 students.

Most of the middle schools in the central and east portions of Pasco County saw changes that were within 25 students of last year, plus or minus.

Pine View Middle School was the only school that experiencing a bigger change. Its first-day enrollment decreased by 65 students, compared to last year.

Among high schools in central and east Pasco, those charting the largest gains were Land O’ Lakes High, with an increase of 155 students, Zephyrhills High, with a boost of 119 students, and Sunlake High, with an uptick of 78 students.

Charter schools in the newspaper’s coverage area also reported gains. Academy at the Farm picked up 119 students, Imagine School in Land O’ Lakes reported 50 additional students, and Countryside Montessori, also in Land O’ Lakes, increased its first-day enrollment by 29.

The largest elementary schools in the newspaper’s coverage area are Oakstead, with an enrollment of 1,000; Seven Oaks, with an enrollment of 1,065; and Woodland, with an enrollment of 929.

The largest middle schools in central and east Pasco are John Long, with an enrollment of 1,665; Rushe, with an enrollment of 1,299; and Weightman, with an enrollment of 1,102.

All of the high schools in east and central portions of the county having enrollments exceeding 1,450, with Wiregrass Ranch High topping the list, with an opening day count of 2,272.

Published September 2, 2015

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