Construction of the new Starkey K-8 school is well underway, and Pasco County Schools has begun notifying families that may be affected by the boundary changes that will be required to assign students to the school.
The school — part of a complex that includes a theater, library and cultural center — is scheduled to open in the 2021-2022 school year.
Significant progress has been made on the construction.
“I drove by Starkey K-8 the other day and it is just incredible how that building has come up out of the ground,” Superintendent Kurt Browning told Pasco County School Board members at their Sept. 1 meeting.
“It is a phenomenal facility,” Browning said. “It’ll be a huge addition to the Starkey Ranch development, so we’re excited about that.”
But, whenever a new school opens, the district must draw new boundaries — a process that can sometimes become controversial.
Browning told board members that the district is preparing to begin the boundary process for Starkey K-8.
“We’ll be communicating with potentially impacted families currently attending Odessa Elementary School, Longleaf Elementary School and River Ridge Middle School, regarding the timeline and the process,” Browning said.
“Our plan is to open the K-8, as a K-7, its first year, and then become a K-8, in its second year,” Browning said, noting that district staff would be sending out communications in the afternoon. following the board meeting.
“I wanted the board to know about it, first,” he said.
Watergrass and Wesley Chapel elementary schools also may see some boundary shifts, Browning said, but he added there are no students currently in the areas that would be affected.
“Proposed maps will be developed this month and a parent night workshop is planned for Oct. 6, at Odessa Elementary School,” Browning said. “The public hearing for the boundaries proposal is planned for Nov. 17 at 6 p.m., with final school board action on Dec. 1.
“We’ll continue to communicate with potentially affected families throughout this process and provide opportunities for feedback. And, this time, we’ll be relying heavily on our ‘Let’s Talk.’”
In other news, Deputy Superintendent Ray Gadd shared information regarding the district’s inventory of surplus sites that are available for future construction of schools, as the district grows.
There was a time when the district didn’t have any land for future schools, Gadd said, describing how he would drive around the county in his pickup truck searching for acreages with for sale signs.
When he found one, he’d have Chris Williams, the district’s director of planning, check it out.
Over time, the district has acquired a number of sites, through purchases and as part of development orders that require sites to be dedicated for schools, as part of development approvals.
“We now have very tight procedures for receiving land from developers,” Gadd explained to board members.
“We are well-positioned for the future, in terms of building schools and preparing for future growth in this county.”
School board member Alison Crumbley applauded Gadd and other district staffers who have addressed this issue, noting she remembers when the district faced significant challenges in securing affordable land.
Meanwhile, the Pasco County Planning Commission recently took an action that relates to a planned district school site.
Planning commissioners voted on Aug. 27 to recommend the school district’s proposed site for the Kirkland Academy of Innovation, on a 104.4-acre site, southeast of the intersection of Curley Road and Kiefer Road.
The planned project will consist of two buildings, totaling 228,458 square feet.
No one spoke in opposition to the request at the planning commission’s meeting.
Published September 09, 2020