Pasco school district officials call board member's rezoning ideas impractical, problematic
Pasco School Board member Steve Luikart's call for attendance zone revisions to affect only students who normally would be changing schools received a quick, negative response from school district officials Friday.
Assistant superintendent Betsy Kuhn, who reviewed Luikart's proposal at the request of board member Alison Crumbley, said his idea would present "a variety of challenges and impracticalities, in addition to being problematic from a financial perspective."
She noted that, if his proposal were put in place, new schools — of which the district is opening two in the fall — would debut with just one grade level in them.
Bexley Elementary, for example, would start with only about 100 kindergarten students despite being built for closer to 900 children. In the meantime, crowded Oakstead and Odessa elementary schools, which Bexley is meant to relieve, would continue to run over capacity. Cypress Creek Middle-High, meant to alleviate crowding at Wiregrass Ranch High and John Long Middle, would open similarly vacant.
Kuhn wrote that such an arrangement would create high overhead and underutilization of new schools for several years. The schools would have to run their utilities, hire sufficient staff and provide adequate programs, she noted, while not reaching as many students as possible.
She also raised concerns about the district's fiduciary responsibilities to the taxpayers, if it were to build multimillion-dollar schools and place only small numbers of children in them, while other campuses potentially operate on double sessions.
"Staff agrees that our number one priority is what is in the best interest of students," Kuhn wrote. "While we are also concerned with transition, making the best use of the limited resources we have for all Pasco County students is consistent with our priorities. Staff has also prepared transition plans to provide for optimal learning conditions for all students with as little disruption as possible."
She added that the staff was "unable to prepare an actionable proposal" based on Luikart's philosophy, "but remain[ed] willing to do so."
Read the full staff response for more details. The district begins a two-week vacation at the end of business Friday. Stay tuned.