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Pasco school district posts proposed rezoning map for Ridgewood High

By Jeff Solochek
The Pasco County School Board plans to reassign all Ridgewood High students to other schools as it converts Ridgewood into a magnet technical high school. [Pasco County school district]

Proposal to convert Ridgewood High into a magnet technical school approved, the Pasco County school district has turned its attention to where Ridgewood students will attend in 2018-19 if they don't apply to the magnet.

A possible new school boundary map is already on the district's rezoning web page. It would send students living north of Ridge Road to Fivay High, and those south of Ridge Road, including the Treasure Cove area west of US 19, to Gulf High.

A small area of the existing Fivay zone east of Colony Road would be phased into the Hudson High boundary over time. And the zone known as 1-4 from this year's rezoning would be reassigned back into River Ridge High, rather than moving to Gulf as planned.

For this attendance zone revision, the district has changed its longstanding procedures. It did so in response to a parent lawsuit alleging the board did not follow state rule making laws in setting new boundaries for Mitchell and Wiregrass Ranch high schools.

A state hearing officer ruled against the families, and the case is on appeal. Superintendent Kurt Browning said he revised the model to more closely reflect the law's requirements, to stave off future similar complaints.

The plan does away with an advisory committee of parents and principals. Instead, district planners present a map for a public workshop, scheduled for Nov. 28. They take written comments and considers map revisions before giving it to Browning, who will make a recommendation to the board.

The board will have one public hearing, set for Dec. 19, and then vote on the item at its Jan. 16 meeting. Residents can continue to send emails and speak at other board meetings about the concept, as they see fit.

Board members have raised several questions about how converting Ridgewood would affect its current students. The school has a high percentage of teens who do not score well on state tests, and it has experienced discipline and attendance problems over time.

On Tuesday, the Gulf and Fivay principals vowed to make the transition as easy as possible for students and their families. They said their schools will work with every teen to ensure each gets the proper academic and social support he or she needs.

I don’t care what school a child is with [previously],” Gulf principal Kim Davis told the School Board. “If they come to Gulf High School they’re with us and we love them.”