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Pasco school rezoning concerns could lead to changes



In the face of criticism and complaints, Pasco County school district leaders have expressed support for the attendance boundary revision process taking place in both east and west sections of the county.

But some of the backlash has prompted officials to rethink the model for future rezoning efforts. Two things in particular have stood out:

• Families living in subdivisions without members on the committees have cried foul over appearances that other communities with representation have swayed the conversation unfairly. This has come up regarding Seven Oaks in the Wesley Chapel area, and Longleaf in the Trinity area.

• Parents attending the committee sessions have observed some principals advocating for certain neighborhoods, rather than taking a more neutral position. They have pointed this out to the superintendent and School Board regarding at least two principals in the Trinity area.

"I've already started discussions with staff," superintendent Kurt Browning said. "After these rezonings are finished, we're going to sit and reflect on the process."

One item up for consideration will be changing the way committee members are selected, Browning said. There's no real way to have someone from every potentially affected community serve, he said, as that would create a committee of hundreds. At the same time, though, Browning suggested more clear criteria would help principals in picking representatives.

That might include closer scrutiny of where each participant lives, to avoid having more than one from the same subdivision. Other ideas also would be reviewed.

At the same time, Browning said, principals will be more strictly instructed to maintain a neutral position on rezoning, because they are representing all the families and not just one area. One possibility could be that the principals serve as staff to the committee but have no vote, which they currently get.

Browning added that he could add another issue, that of requiring the committees to come up with a single recommendation to bring to parent town hall meetings for review and input. That didn't happen in the Trinity rezoning, and it's caused consternation among the many communities that might be affected.

All that said, the superintendent stressed that regardless of the committee actions, the process is far from over. Parents have their say through emails and calls to staff and board members, as well as at town hall meetings where they can speak up. The School Board also will hold two public hearings before it takes any vote, and the board may decide to adopt or change the committee recommendations.

"It's not a done deal," Browning said.

A parent meeting for the Trinity-area middle and high school zones is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday.

[Last modified: Friday, November 11, 2016 1:49pm]


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