School construction needs outpace funding

The Pasco County School Board has begun exploring the idea of asking voters to support a half-penny sales tax to help pay for school construction.

During a June 20 workshop on the district’s capital needs, School Board member Cynthia Armstrong asked staff to come back with a projection of how much the half-penny tax would generate in 10 years and a list detailing the types of projects the tax revenues would support.

Pasco County Schools would like to see more scenes like this around the district. The Pasco County School Board has asked district staff to research how much money a half-cent sales tax could generate and possible projects the revenues could support.

Her request came during a board workshop immediately after the Pasco County Commission’s first public hearing on a proposal to boost school impact fees.

The County Commission appears to be leaning toward an increase, but it’s not clear how much that increase will be, or when it will take effect.

Even if the full amount of the proposed impact fees is approved, the district construction needs far outstrip its expected revenues, said Deputy Superintendent Ray Gadd. It is unlikely the money the district needs will be provided by the state Legislature, Gadd said.

The district has identified these projects to be partially supported by the proposed impact fees:

  • Cypress Creek Middle School
  • Starkey Ranch, kindergarten through eighth grade
  • A new high school
  • A new elementary school in the Wesley Chapel area
  • A new elementary school in State Road 54 corridor area

Those projects are based on current growth patterns, Gadd said.

Meanwhile, the newly built Cypress Creek Middle High School, off Old Pasco Road, is scheduled to open this fall. Initially, it will serve students in grades six through 11, but it will add grade 12 during the second year. Its boundaries affected Rushe, John Long and Weightman middle schools, and Sunlake, Wesley Chapel and Wiregrass high schools.

Bexley Elementary School, 4380 Ballantrae Blvd. in the Bexley subdivision off State Road 54, also is set to open in the fall. It is intended to reduce crowding at Oakstead and Odessa elementary schools.

The district also is proceeding on massive remodeling projects at Land O’ Lakes High School in Land O’ Lakes and Woodland Elementary School in Zephyrhills.

Armstrong also urged supporters of the proposed school impact fee increase to show up to make their views known at the Pasco County Commission’s second public hearing on school impact fees. That meeting is set for July 11 at 1:30 p.m., at the historic Pasco County Courthouse in Dade City.

Published June 28, 2017

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