Scores of parents from the communities of Arbor Woods and Northwood are opposed to proposed school boundaries that would send their children from their Wesley Chapel community over to Denham Oaks Elementary, in Lutz.
About 100 people showed up at a community meeting on Nov. 19 to seek changes to the proposed boundaries for Elementary W, a new school being built off Mansfield Boulevard.
They told officials they understand that Seven Oaks Elementary needs relief from overcrowding, but they don’t want their children to be sent to a school in a different community.
They raised numerous concerns.
They don’t want to contend with the traffic on State Road 56, particularly near Interstate 75.
They don’t want their children to leave an A-rated school to go to one with a lower grade.
They want their children to have access to the same programs and services that they now enjoy at their current school.
They’re concerned about how the shift will affect which middle school and high school their children will attend.
And, they question the accuracy of the district’s projections.
They want district officials to change the boundaries so children in Arbor Woods and Northwood can attend Sand Pine Elementary, which is closer to where they live.
Elementary School W, now under construction off Mansfield Boulevard, is intended to provide some relief for Seven Oaks and Double Branch elementary schools. It also has some space available to accommodate anticipated growth, said Chris Williams, director of planning for Pasco County Schools.
A boundary committee for Pasco County Schools has recommended a number of shifts that would affect the boundaries of Seven Oaks, Double Branch, Sand Pine and Denham Oaks.
Williams said the committee considers a number of factors when recommending school boundaries.
Those include school capacity, current enrollment and growth projections. The committee also attempts to avoid splitting subdivisions and considers traffic, he said.
Vince Iglio, representing Arbor Woods, said his neighborhood has just 25 students, which would have a negligible impact, if the students were assigned to Sand Pine.
But, Williams said, if Arbor Woods were assigned to Sand Pine, the district should also consider other parts of Northwood, which would yield an impact of roughly 200 students.
Iglio questioned the district’s projections for Denham Oaks. He said the school could become overcrowded as early as next year, given the development that’s springing up in the area.
Williams said he expects that all of the schools affected by Elementary W’s boundaries will continue to grow, but some areas are expecting greater growth pressures.
Jennifer Northey, president of the Parent Teacher Association at Denham Oaks, told parents gathered in her school’s cafeteria that she understood why they were fighting the move. She said she’d be doing the same thing if her school’s boundaries were being changed and her family was affected.
She said she came to the meeting to reassure the parents that good things are happening at Denham Oaks.
David Scanga, a district administrator who supervises numerous schools, including Denham Oaks, said he understands parent’s concerns. He told them that Denham Oaks has been making great strides in improving its performance.
Ali Soofi, a resident of Arbor Woods, detailed some of the concerns of the Arbor Woods community in an email to The Laker/Lutz News.
“All of us knew that eventually we would be rezoned to a different school,” Soofi wrote. “However, none of us realized that we would be moved to a different city.
“Zero part of our rationale has to do with any school ratings,” Soofi added. “We just want to stay in Wesley Chapel, where we spend all our time, money, and worship.”
The Pasco County School Board has the final word on school boundaries, and it is slated to consider the boundaries at public hearings set for Dec. 1 and Dec. 15.
Elementary W boundary hearings
What: Public hearings for proposed boundaries for Elementary W, a new school which will open next school year in Wesley Chapel.
When: Dec. 1 at 9:30 a.m., and Dec. 15 at 6 p.m.
Where: Pasco County Schools district complex, Building No. 3 North, at 7205 Land O’ Lakes Blvd.
Published November 25, 2015