Pasco schools see higher enrollment growth than projected

Wiregrass Ranch High has added outdoor seating to accommodate students during large lunch periods. [Jeffrey S. Solochek | Times]
Wiregrass Ranch High has added outdoor seating to accommodate students during large lunch periods. [Jeffrey S. Solochek | Times]
Published September 17 2018

In discussing pay raises, Pasco County school district officials have asked their employee negotiating groups to wait and see if more students turn up than expected.

The state projected district enrollment to rise by 1,001 children. Any more than that, officials said, and the added per-student funding could boost salaries.

After 20 days, the numbers are higher than anticipated.

The district planning department reported K-12 enrollment growth of 1,412 students after the early September count, to 74,434 children. Those numbers include district, charter, virtual and juvenile justice programs.

The greatest increase came in the charter schools, which saw a 968 student gain. High schools were next, at plus 265, while middle schools rose only slightly and elementary schools saw a slight decline.

Among the biggest changes, Bexley Elementary School, which opened a year ago, grew its enrollment by 128 students. Fivay and Gulf high schools saw their numbers soar by hundreds, as they absorbed many students from the former Ridgewood High School.

Ridgewood closed to make way for Krinn Technical High School, which enrolled 548 students.

Cypress Creek Middle-High, which also opened a year ago, grew by nearly 400 students, as well. Wiregrass Ranch High remained the district's largest, at just over 2,200 students, but saw a slight decrease in its count.

Within charter schools, Union Park Charter Academy in Wesley Chapel debuted with nearly 700 students, while a new Plato Academy opened with a smaller 185 while awaiting its new campus to be completed.

The district plans to take an official 40-day count in early October, at which time officials expect to begin talking about the numbers and how they might translate into more pay.

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