The Pasco County School Board unanimously approved school rezonings for the 2020-2021 school year — primarily affecting students living in the Seven Oaks subdivision in Wesley Chapel.
Board members approved the boundary shifts that are aimed to relieve crowding at Wiregrass Ranch High School and John Long Middle School, and to fill seats available at Cypress Creek High School and the new Cypress Creek Middle School, which is expected to open next fall.
The boundary shift does not apply to Wiregrass Ranch students, living within the rezoned area, who will be entering their junior or senior years. Seniors can ride district buses; juniors cannot.
Board members supported Superintendent Kurt Browning’s boundary recommendations, despite requests by parents to allow current freshman at Wiregrass Ranch to have the option to remain, if their parents provided transportation.
There also was a request to allow rising eighth-graders from John Long Middle to be allowed to attend Wiregrass Ranch High.
In advocating for incoming sophomores, Mike Schulze, a Seven Oaks parent, said “this group is just as important as all of the others.”
Other parents expressed their displeasure with the boundary shifts, citing concerns about disrupting their children’s lives, traffic issues and the greater distance from the Seven Oaks neighborhood to the Cypress Creek school complex, which is on Old Pasco Road.
Board members said Pasco County’s rapid growth continues to force the district to shift boundaries to accommodate growing enrollments.
Board member Allen Altman applauded Browning’s recommendation to grandfather in both rising juniors and rising seniors at Wiregrass Ranch High, which is on Mansfield Boulevard.
“I think based on the numbers and projections. That was generous and accommodating,” Altman said.
Board member Cynthia Armstrong said rezonings are always tough.
“I know it’s painful,” Armstrong said.
“The idea is to reduce the number of students at Wiregrass. And, to accomplish that, it’s necessary to move students out of Wiregrass,” she said.
Board member Megan Harding said she had visited Wiregrass Ranch High, where she saw crowded hallways, students eating lunch outside and multiple portable classrooms.
Failing to address the crowding could end up putting Wiregrass on a 10-period day, and that’s not a great option, the board member said.
“This is not a decision I make lightly,” Harding said. “You’re child isn’t a number to me. Your child is important.”
Still, Harding said: “With a rapidly growing area, if we don’t address problems now, it’s only going to get worse.”
There were other boundary changes approved, including shifts that affect an area near State Road 52 and the Suncoast Parkway.
The land is currently undeveloped, but has been approved for a massive development.
The new boundaries assign the entire area to Mary Giella Elementary, Crews Lake Middle School and Hudson High.
Future students in those areas would have been assigned to Land O’ Lakes schools.
Published November 27, 2019
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