Boundaries approved for new schools

The Pasco County School Board has approved boundaries for the new Cypress Creek Middle/High School, despite considerable controversy.

The board also adopted boundaries for Bexley Elementary School, without any opposition from the public.

Boundaries have been set for Bexley Elementary School, which is under construction off of State Road 54 in Land O’ Lakes. The school, scheduled to open in the fall, will help reduce crowding at Oakstead and Odessa elementary schools.
(Courtesy of Pasco County Schools)

Cypress Creek Middle/High School, being built off Old Pasco Road, is scheduled to open in fall 2017. Initially, it will be for students in grades six through 11, but it will add grade 12 during the second year.

There won’t be a senior class the first year because this year’s crop of juniors will be allowed to complete their high school career at their current school.

The board adopted Cypress Creek’s boundary on a 4-1 vote, with Steve Luikart dissenting. Luikart said he thinks the district can find a better way to reassign students that would avoid disrupting students’ lives.

“Have we done the very best we can in looking at rezonings? I have reservations there,” Luikart said.

But, board vice chairman Cynthia Armstrong, and board members Colleen Beaudoin and Alison Crumbley said they have to do what’s best for the majority of the district’s students.

Beaudoin said: “It’s our job on the board to look at the big picture.”

“No decision that we make is going to make everybody happy,” Armstrong said.

Crumbley said she doesn’t want to move students at all, but the district’s robust growth gives it no choice.

Board Chairman Allen Altman also noted he had received hundreds of emails and heard scores of proposals.

Altman added: The one thing they had in common is that no one suggested a plan that involved moving his or her own child.

Ultimately, the board adopted Superintendent Kurt Browning’s recommendation.

The boundary changes affect Wiregrass Ranch, Wesley Chapel and Sunlake highs schools and John Long, Rushe and Weightman middle schools.

The rezoning aroused deep emotions.

Most of the controversy stemmed from Browning’s support of an option to keep all of the Seven Oaks students at John Long and Wiregrass Ranch, and to move part of Meadow Pointe students to Weightman Middle and Wesley Chapel High.

Speakers alternately praised or skewered the superintendent, depending on where they live.

Some criticized Browning for failing to follow the boundary committee’s recommendation. They questioned his motives. They challenged the school district’s data.

Meadow Pointe parents urged board members to allow their children to stay at Wiregrass Ranch High.

Seven Oaks parents, on the other hand, praised Browning’s approach, saying it made the most sense.

Parents pleaded with board members not to disrupt their children’s lives. Students urged board members to let them stay at the school they love.

While Browning deviated from the boundary committee’s final recommendation, even the boundary committee changed its recommendation during the process.

In the end, though, the majority of board members rejected Luikart’s proposal to gather more information before voting, and agreed with Armstrong’s assessment that a decision must be made.

No one signed up to speak during the public hearing on the Bexley boundaries.

The elementary school, being built off State Road 54, is scheduled to open this fall. It is intended to reduce crowding at Oakstead and Odessa elementary schools. The proposed boundaries also provide additional students for Lake Myrtle Elementary.

Published January 25, 2017

 

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