Pasco parents blast school rezoning plan -- if it affects them
Pasco school superintendent Kurt Browning's email inbox has been overflowing with angry messages lately, as a growing number of parents across the county complain about possible plans to change their school attendance zone.
In almost every instance, the letter writers have suggested that some other neighborhood should move instead. Several made accusations of a fixed system, unfairly controlled by one community to the detriment of others.
The committee assigned to draw zones for southwest Pasco middle and high schools did little to counter such concerns, as some members avidly fought to keep the Longleaf subdivision in crowded Seven Springs Middle and Mitchell High even as many others tried to swat down the idea. The group became so divided it wound up offering multiple proposals for next week's parent meeting rather than one, as had been its charge.
Browning expressed disappointment at the committee's inability to do the "heavy lifting" of making a decision for the community to review. He briefly considered canceling the parent session until the panel does its job. Instead, he said the committee did what it did, and will have to work through the process even as pressure mounts.
The anger already is evident, both in the southwest corner and over in central Pasco, where new middle and high school zones also are being drafted. Those raising the loudest criticisms? Anyone in a neighborhood that might be rezoned to ease crowding in the county's most over-capacity schools.
A small sampling from the emails:
"I'm just hearing from my daughter, who's in 10th grade at River Ridge high school, that she will HAVE to go to Gulf high next year because Mitchell high students are being rezoned for RRHS. This is NOT acceptable to my husband, myself and our daughter. We bought our home in Deer Park because of the schools it was zoned for." - parent Kathy Spenard
"Many of the families in area 12 (Longleaf) are highly concerned that certain committee members living in newer neighborhoods such as Trinity Preserve are making unbiased decisions without considering the safety of the students, community that has been together for over 15 years, families that may be separated, etc." - parent Shelley Barnes
"The thought of possibly being rezoned to Paul R. Smith Middle School and Anclote High School is devastating. The thought of my children turning 16 and having to cross a 6 lane highway that has been rated as the most dangerous road in the United States, makes my stomach turn." - parent Jenny Kromolicki Davis
"I was shocked when in many of the minute notes we continuously read 'community integrity.' But yet our Meadow Pointe 3 community was torn apart with a large portion being sent 10 miles away to Weightman Middle and Wesley Chapel High. If you read the meeting notes we see the emphasis of not wanting to tear another community apart but it seems that Meadow Pointe 3 Zone 18 was not given this same consideration." - parent Tiffany Duran
At least one real estate agency is trying to exploit the situation, mailing ads to some west Pasco residences suggesting it can help families find homes in the school zone of their choice. "*angry face*," activist Heide Janshon wrote in her email sharing the image with others.
The School Board retains the final say. It plans to vote on all the proposals by Feb. 1.