Lacoochee Elementary will stay open after school board vote

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Tuesday night, parents and students made passionate pleas to the Pasco County School Board to keep Lacoochee Elementary open - and their hopes were answered.

The school board voted against the proposed closure, 2-3.

It was a decision that did not come easily or without hours of debate, passionate public comment, and even a few tears.

Cheers erupted throughout the room as the vote was announced. The feelings of the relief and disbelief were easily seen on some parents' faces after hours of back and forth.

The Pasco County School District originally proposed to have Lacoochee Elementary closed because of declining enrollment. It was a shock to parents and students living in this remote, high-poverty area of Pasco County who rely on the school as a community center.

If the school closed, students would have been transferred to Rodney B. Cox elementary, about 7 miles south. This was the recommendation of Superintendent Kurt Browning who said the consolidation would give the kids services and opportunities they don't have now. 

However, other board members - Megan Harding, Allison Crumbley, and Colleen Beaudoin worried about the impact the closure would have on the community and expressed their doubt that not enough questions had been answered.

In the end, the board was divided, with just one vote saving the school.

With Lacoochee Elementary now off the chopping block, the focus turns to two other schools in the district that are also struggling with declining enrollment: Hudson and Locke elementary schools. The district has proposed to have these schools closed as well. However, Hudson and Locke are not scheduled to go before the school board until March 5th.