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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Backlash arises over central Pasco school rezoning proposal



Relief surged through one corner of the Wesley Chapel region while anger grew in another as proposed revisions to the area middle and high school attendance boundaries filtered through the community late last week and over the weekend.

Unlike their Trinity counterparts, Wesley Chapel parents did not make loud public stands for or against the rezoning while a committee hashed out its recommendation. But once the suggested map won unanimous approval and hit social media, reaction came quickly.

Seven Oaks parents, who feared being removed from Wiregrass Ranch High and John Long Middle, sent the superintendent and School Board members emails of support and praise for the committee's "fair" and "impartial" deliberations. Meadow Pointe parents, who had not contemplated being moved to schools much farther from their homes, began blitzing the board with angry emails accusing the committee of playing favorites of one neighborhood against another.

The two areas send hundreds of children to the Wiregrass Ranch and John Long, which have been enrolled beyond capacity for years. To ease crowding at the schools, both came into consideration for rezoning.

Toward the end of their discussions, committee members tried to weigh the difference between making Meadow Pointe families drive farther to attend Wesley Chapel High and Weightman Middle, against placing Seven Oaks in a different school when continuing growth would likely mean moving the area again in a couple of years. The committee decided to go with the Meadow Pointe option.

"This fails to serve the greater county, gives the broader community in Pasco the perception that the district plays favorites rather than being fair, rational, and serves a small host of communities that are not entitled to rezoning to solely benefit them at the drastic sacrifice of others," Jaclyn Lewis-Croswell wrote to the board.

Susette Hanley wrote in that she and others will not take the recommendation quietly. 

"We will not allow this without our community having the opportunity to be heard and our point of view understood," Karen DiBrango added in a separate email.

The committee has scheduled a Nov. 29 session for parents to give input, with a follow-up meeting to make any adjustments to its recommendation that the committee finds appropriate.

The School Board will have two public hearings before its final vote on the boundaries. The board generally adopts committee proposals, but has in the past made changes on its own.

The process is expected to be complete in time for school choice applications that begin in February.

[Last modified: Monday, October 24, 2016 11:29am]


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