Pasco Co. students could be moved after rezoning

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A controversial plan to redraw school boundaries in Pasco County took another step toward becoming a reality Thursday when a committee settled on a proposal to bring to the Superintendent.

After discussing several possibilities, the Southwest Boundary Committee for Pasco County Schools  agreed on a plan that would shuffle hundreds of students around and remove a total of almost 500 from Mitchell High School and Seven Springs Middle School.

Frustrated parents crowded into the Gulf High School library, where the meeting took place, and many weren't happy after the decision came down.

"I don't think it was fair, they didn't look at the data correctly," said Heather Goldstein, who has  children at Longleaf Elementary School and Seven Springs Middle. "Whoever complained the most had the loudest voice was the one who was being heard over everybody."

Superintendent Kurt Browning has said re-zoning schools is necessary to relieve over-crowding at Mitchell and Seven Springs, which is a result of a home construction boom in Pasco.

The plan discussed today, however, would still leave both schools slightly over-capacity. It would still need approval from the superintendent and School Board.

Parents have been panicking and are begging the district to delay any decision.

"We just need to take a breath. The one question that we've asked that has not yet ever been answered is, 'what is the rush? Why are you in such a hurry?'" said Leigh Lane, who has kids at Longleaf and  Mitchell.

Linda Cobbe, a spokesperson for the district, said a delay is unlikely and admitted another redraw may be needed in about five years.

"It's a reality," she said. "We don't like having to do it but it's a reality so that we can keep our  schools balanced out."

Critics have urged the district to build more schools, but administrators have said there just isn't enough money to do so.

Superintendent Browning now has the chance to make adjustments to the recommended plan. Afterward, he'll pass it on to the school board, which will hold two public meetings: Dec. 20 and Jan. 17.

A final decision will be made at the second public School Board meeting.