Pasco parents, students frustrated by rezoning process

- Students and parents in Pasco County gave school leaders an earful Tuesday night at he final public hearing for a school boundary rezoning process that has dragged on for nearly two years.

“The prospect of rezoning for families across the west line of the county has once again created anxiety, concern, fear, and anger,” said one parent.

The majority of speakers asked the school board to reconsider the changes on the table.

“I feel like it’s pretty unfair to have relationships and friendships and opportunities just torn away from me,” said Seven Springs middle-schooler Cole Deary.

The recommended plan impacts families on the West side of the county. The proposal calls for expanding the boundaries of River Ridge Middle School, as well as the lines of Gulf and River Ridge High Schools.

“This is something that we need to do because of the crowding at Mitchell High School,” said Assistant Superintendent for Support Services Betsy Kuhn. “Some of the numbers we have show that Mitchell was growing at a rate of 5 percent per year, and so they’re already way over capacity with where we are right now.”

Parents say the changes are ripping apart communities, stressing out students, and are not putting pupils first. Some questioned the data used to re-draw the boundaries.

“We are not gonna back down,” another parent said. “We have every right to know how moving just 73 kids has solved this massive problem.”

Back in January, a judge vetoed a rezoning map approved by the school board, saying it didn’t follow the law. Lots of students have had to bounce back and forth between schools until a new plan is approved.

“Never in our wildest dreams would we have ever thought being a mile and a half away from the school that that would not be our school,” parent Carolyn Deary said.

For some parents, the new maps are not enough. While others say this process feels like déjà vu.

“We went through all this a year ago, we’re doing this all over again,” said parent Paul Sochacki.

The superintendent’s plan is basically a tweaked version of the last redistricting.

“It’s very similar,” Kuhn said. “Almost all of it is the same in terms of the neighborhood that is being rezoned.”

The recommended plan is not a done deal yet. The school board is set to have a final vote on the boundary changes at the May 1 meeting.

Anyone who wants to weigh in can send a message to the Pasco County School Board.

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