Pasco superintendent goes against advisory committee's rezoning recommendation

Aaron Mesmer reports

- Parents of hundreds of Pasco County students were left stunned this week after receiving an email  from Superintendent Kurt Browning about changes to the district's plan to rezone school boundaries.

Browning decided to disregard an advisory committee's recommendation for the eastern side of the  county and choose a completely different plan, while making a slight adjustment to a different  committee's recommendation for the western side.

The superintendent's choice for the Wesley Chapel area, known as "Option 13," forced a lot of  families to go from "safe" to "rezoned" or vice versa.

"The superintendent felt that it was only fair to look at the numbers again, look at the proposals  and determined that 13 was the most fair for everyone," said Linda Cobbe, a spokesperson for Pasco  County Schools.

The district has been discussing the rezoning plan for months; it's needed to deal with overcrowding  at Wiregrass Ranch High School, which is over capacity by more than 800 students.

On top of rezoning, the district is building Cypress Creek High School, which is set to open next  fall.

Browning was concerned if he went with the advisory committee's recommendation, some students would  be rezoned a second time while they're high school and moved to Cypress Creek.

Cobbe said the option was always open for the superintendent to make his own recommendation to the  school board.

"It was never represented that what they recommend is what will happen. They've known all along that  it's the superintendent's decision on what to recommend," she said.

That's not consolation to families, some of whom are seeing students in their communities split up.

"You not only have the holidays, you have to deal with this, you have to deal with everything," said  Derrick Dosal, whose daughter goes to Wiregrass and son goes to John Long Middle School. "Some people  are talking about moving. I don't know if I'm going to move but it's a possibility."

In some cases, siblings are getting split up; Natalie Sheer said her oldest son would be able to stay  at Wiregrass but her other son, who is an incoming freshman, would have to go to Wesley Chapel High  School.

"With this happening, one will be riding a bus to school while the other one is able to stay at  Wiregrass where he's been at," Sheer said. "The email was shocking. I didn't expect it to get  switched like that."

The school board will have the final say. Rezoning plans for the eastern and western sides of the  county will be discussed at the December 20th meeting. A decision will be made at the meeting on January 17th.

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