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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Pasco School Board member takes another stab at rezoning proposals

The Pasco County School Board is set to vote on school zones on Jan. 17.

Times file photo

The Pasco County School Board is set to vote on school zones on Jan. 17.

10

January

Pasco County School Board member Steve Luikart cast the lone "no" vote on two attendance zone revision recommendations in December, saying he wasn't convinced the plans were in students' best interest.

Asked for his ideas in writing, Luikart sent his colleagues a letter days later. The district administration panned his views in short order.

Offended by the "uncalled for" criticism, Luikart this week delivered a new five-page document to superintendent Kurt Browning and the board, offering further explanation of his perspective that no student should be moved out of a school before finishing its final grade level. In his latest letter, he called the administration's responses against his idea "disappointing, but expected."

"I am looking for a way of solving the issue without hurting kids," Luikart told the Gradebook. "They came up with 47 different administrative reasons why they couldn't help kids. That made me upset."

A longtime teacher and school administrator before retiring, Luikart said he got the sense that many of the concerns that parents and students have about the proposed rezonings stem from not wanting to yank kids away from programs, school culture and friends. If the district would phase in the boundary changes over time, he suggested, that might make the new zones more palatable for many.

"This process needs to be part of the District's re-zoning plan across the county. Any high school, middle school student should finish their school level. During the next three years, after re-zoning takes place, school capacity will even out if we have done our best and planned accordingly," he wrote. "It's not the easiest and it's not the quickest, but, in my opinion, it's the best for our students."

Other School Board members have said in the past they like the idea of phasing in new attendance boundaries, but were hesitant after listening to administration cautions. Luikart said he had no idea how the others would react to his view when he brings it back at a Jan. 17 public hearing and vote. 

He anticipated little change this round. He blamed the fast pace of the initiative.

"We're way behind the eight ball," Luikart said. "These are things that should have been discussed two years ago. I don't think rezoning can be done in a year. We need to look at the whole rezoning process we use. We need to start ahead of time, so people can plan for it."

Many in the community have asked for more deliberation before changing the the boundaries, calling the model "flawed" for a variety of reasons. So far, the board has insisted on moving ahead, to meet the district's school choice application period that starts Feb. 1.

[Last modified: Tuesday, January 10, 2017 2:17pm]

    

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