As Pasco County Schools gears up to open an elementary school in Wesley Chapel next school year, it’s also planning to open a school for students in grades six through 12 in Wesley Chapel and an elementary school in Land O’ Lakes in the fall of 2017.
It’s also planning to open a kindergarten through eighth-grade school in Starkey Ranch, though no opening date has been yet specified, said Chris Williams, director of planning for Pasco County Schools.
District officials also are seeking bond money against revenues from Penny for Pasco proceeds so the district can get to work sooner on projects at Land O’ Lakes High School, and Woodland Elementary in Zephyrhills, he said.
And, those are just a few efforts under way, as the district experiences the most growth it has seen since the housing market flattened during the recession, Williams said.
The Land O’ Lakes High project hasn’t been designed yet, but it will be significant and will involve adding capacity, Williams said.
“We have Connerton and those developments around there, so we definitely want to look to add capacity to Land O’ Lakes (High School),” Williams said. “The biggest issue is going to be: ‘What do we do with all of the kids?’ ”
When Quail Hollow Elementary School was redeveloped, the district could reassign its students to other elementary schools.
“But, that’s a different ballgame when we start talking about Land O’ Lakes High School,” Williams said.
While it’s possible to do construction with students on campus, it’s more complicated and time consuming, Williams said.
A portion of the bond money also would be used for a remodeling at Woodland Elementary, Williams said.
“Woodland is just an older school. It has a really small cafeteria, plus they’re well over capacity,” he said.
The district has to be careful about how much capacity it adds, because it also owns property for an elementary school on the north end of Zephyrhills, Williams said.
In Land O’ Lakes, the district has acquired an elementary school site near the entrance of Tierra del Sol. There’s no timetable yet for building that school, Williams said.
The district also is working to secure another high school site in the State Road 54 corridor, between U.S. 41 and Trinity, he said.
A high school is planned in Bexley Ranch, but an additional high school site is needed in the State Road 54 corridor to accommodate anticipated growth, Williams said.
The high school in Bexley Ranch won’t be accessible for three to five years, because of its location within the development, Williams said.
In addition to the elementary school site planned in Bexley Ranch, the district is looking for an additional elementary school site in the State Road 54 corridor, Williams said.
As the district grows and adds more schools, it will need to draw new boundaries for the schools, a process that tends to arouse controversy.
Superintendent Kurt Browning addressed the issue regarding school boundary shifts in a column he posted on the Pasco County Schools’ website.
“The biggest complaint we get when we have to change school boundaries is from parents who moved into a neighborhood specifically to send their children to the neighborhood school.
“That is why we strongly urge realtors not to use nearby schools as a selling point when they list homes for sale,” Browning writes.
“While we can’t promise parents that the school their home is zoned for when they buy it will continue to be their children’s assigned school, we can promise that it is our mission to provide a world-class education at every Pasco County school,” the superintendent’s column says.
Published December 16, 2015