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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Let us pay for new school, Pasco parents say



Confronted with being rezoned out of their preferred middle and high schools, some west Pasco County parents have put forth a novel idea: Having the affected areas pay for an addition to the existing campuses or the construction of a new one.

"From our vantage point, the whole funding dilemma looks really bleak," anti-rezoning activist Heide Janshon wrote recently to district spokeswoman Linda Cobbe. "The district really should take us up on our offer to fund a school through a CDD."

A CDD is a community development district. Florida law allows for a CDD or an Educational Facilities Benefit District to "construct and maintain an educational facility contained within an individual district facilities work program or proposed by an approved charter school or a charter school applicant."

Pasco district officials are discussing the idea, assistant superintendent Betsy Kuhn said.

"We're looking at it," Kuhn said, adding that the concept more often is used for new rather than existing communities.

She suggested that it could be difficult to craft a special taxing district for schools, particularly in an area that has existing vacant seats at other campuses and a clear divide among residents who support and oppose rezoning. Such complications would make creating a district one of the less likely options, Kuhn said, but still one worth at least talking about.

Rezoning critics have been pushing for any action short of taking their children out of Mitchell High and Seven Springs Middle. They have spoken of getting their own architects and engineers to design additions to the crowded schools. They have suggested creating a new magnet program to draw people out of the schools voluntarily. They have proposed redrawing the entire west Pasco school map to shift more families in a larger area.

If all else fails, they want to delay action as long as possible.

District officials have remained firm, though, that the rezoning must occur to cope with existing crowding and expected ongoing population growth. The committee assigned to draw the maps is scheduled to hold its second meeting Oct. 26.

[Last modified: Friday, October 14, 2016 6:58am]


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