More students are walking through the front doors of area schools as communities in Pasco County continue to grow.
The 39 schools in east and central Pasco County added 1,000 students since this time last year, according to population numbers released by Pasco County Schools. On average, the student population growth in east and central Pasco would be equivalent to adding a classroom per school. The additional students bring the total public school population to 30,800 — a 3.4 percent increase.
“We’re not exactly sure where they are coming from as we haven’t had a chance to analyze it just yet,” said Christopher Williams, director for planning services at Pasco County Schools. “There are certainly some new houses being built, but I’m not sure how much of that has impacted the schools.”
The biggest student population jumps came in Wesley Chapel, where Watergrass and Wesley Chapel elementary schools added 382 students, many of them coming from Quail Hollow Elementary School, which is closed this year for renovations. Both schools already taught more than a combined total of 1,000 students, but this year are operating with 1,438 — a 36 percent jump.
Also on the rise is Wesley Chapel High School, adding 206 students from this time last year, and increasing its student body by nearly 16 percent. Wiregrass Ranch High School was not far behind, adding 159 students to cross the 2,000 mark with an 8 percent jump.
“The Wesley Chapel and (SR) 54 corridor is where we’re seeing the most growth,” Williams said, adding there are still serious overcrowding issues at schools like Seven Oaks Elementary, Long Middle and Wiregrass Ranch.
And it will be that way, at least for the near future.
“We don’t have much of a budget for new schools, other than having enough money to build a new elementary school, in the next five years,” he said. “In the meantime, we’re doing what we can to help these schools.”