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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Pasco elementary rezoning committee finishes work, as high school effort heats up



A committee of parents and school district officials spent just 15 minutes Tuesday finishing their work redrawing elementary school attendance zones in the booming Odessa area of Pasco County -- an effort that featured none of the drama associated with similar efforts for central and southwest county middle and high schools.

The panel had little to say when planner Richard Tonello asked if they had heard anything from the community that made them want to change their recommendations, which have students headed to still under construction Bexley Elementary or well regarded Lake Myrtle Elementary to ease crowding at Oakstead and Odessa elementary schools.

Oakstead principal Tammy Kimpland said a few parents raised concerns about leaving her school for Lake Myrtle, but were remaining positive about the possibilities. Odessa principal Teresa Love said she hadn't heard from any parents about the rezoning.

"I think they understand the overcrowding and they feel it, and it makes sense to them," said Love, who noted her 1,000-student school, which sits at 131 percent of capacity, enrolled 10 new children in the past two days.

Oakstead, the county's largest elementary school at 1,095 students and 144 percent of capacity, added nine new students in the same time.

Parent Elizabeth Kelly, who sat on the committee, said she found the rezoning process "fair and reasonable." The staff provided sufficient data, she said, "so we could make educated and fair decisions. Everybody had a chance to share their thoughts and be heard."

Parents in the Wesley Chapel area, where middle and high school boundaries are being redrawn, have sounded much less generous in recent weeks. Those living in the Meadow Pointe subdivision have attacked their rezoning committee as biased in favor of a different subdivision, and accused the district staff of tilting the data against their neighborhood.

They have petitioned the School Board to consider alternative options to the one the committee proposed, arguing factors including traffic safety, subdivision integrity, and school congestion among many others. At the bottom, residents of each subdivision seek to keep their children in Wiregrass Ranch High and John Long Middle, and to send the others to Wesley Chapel High and Weightman Middle.

They're expected to make similar arguments during a town hall meeting at 6 p.m. tonight, in the Wesley Chapel High gym. It's a listening session for the committee, which is not scheduled to respond until it holds its final meeting Friday.

[Last modified: Tuesday, November 29, 2016 12:34pm]


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