Parents ask Pasco school district to rethink rezoning

- There's a rezoning dispute growing in Pasco County. Tuesday night, parents packed into the school board meeting, asking officials to rethink a proposed plan that would adjust school boundaries and move some students to different schools.

The school district says it needs to redraw the boundaries because some schools are overcrowded and it's having a negative effect on student safety and learning conditions. But parents whose kids could be bused several miles farther away from home are asking for more time.

Alicia Rogers knows exactly what a good school can do for a child.

"My daughter struggled in school horribly," Roger said. "I've spent $5,000 at Huntington Learning Center. I've spent countless money on math tutors."

But when she moved to Seven Springs Middle School and eventually, JW Mitchell High School, that all changed.

"She had straight As and one B on her last report card," Rogers said.

Changing schools now is not an option.

"I live .8 miles from the school," Rogers said. "I can see the football lights from my house and they want to move my child to a school that is 5 miles away. Just not gonna happen."

That's just one of many stories Pasco County School Officials are hearing from parents who are asking them to rethink rezoning the district.

"Carmel Avenue, which is where I live - divided right in half," said Missy Cook. "The other side of my street is gone. They go to JW. I go to Anclote."

Superintendent Kurt Browning says, with new home construction on the rise, student enrollment is exceeding several schools' capacities. And, there's not enough funding at the moment to build new schools.

"In order to make sure all of our schools are balanced out, we have to look at changing the boundaries to add some people to the under capacity schools and to relieve the over capacity schools," said Pasco School Spokesperson Linda Cobbe.

At Tuesday night's School Board meeting, parents asked officials to put the plan on hold and verify that students attending high capacity schools actually live there.

"Why rush through this rezone? What is the urgency? That is the one question we as parents have asked over and over," said one Christine Stahl.

"You can ask any Mitchell student, any day of the week. They can give you at least 5, sometimes 6, sometimes more students that they know don't live there," said another parent.

Alicia Rogers is determined to keep her daughter in school -- the same school -- no matter what it takes.

"I'm not allowing my child to go to a D-rated school," Rogers said. "It's just not gonna happen. I don't care where they draw the lines. They can draw the lines wherever they want. I'll move. I'll do whatever I have to do."

A Boundary Committee, made up of principals and parents from each school is tasked with drawing the lines. They have 5 proposed maps which now have to be narrowed down to 1 that they'll present to the Superintendent.

They meet Thursday morning at 8 a.m. at Gulf High School where they'll discuss feedback they've just received from parents as well as their next step. 

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