Pasco schools project enrollment growth after three years of declines
Once upon a time, the Pasco County school district stood among the fastest growing districts in the country, with enrollment rising annually about 3 to 5 percent. That ended in 2010, when Pasco saw its numbers drop for the first time since 1986. The student body continued to slide slightly for the next couple of years, although not as badly as feared.
The tide appears poised to turn again in 2013-14, according to new district projections delivered last week. The planning department has projected K-12 enrollment of 62,761, up 413 students from the most current enrollment taken in February.
The numbers are not spread evenly, as usual, with some schools skyrocketing over their capacities and others well below. Oakstead and Seven Oaks elementary schools, for instance, are projected to continue growing as the district's two largest populations at that level. The same is true for John Long Middle and Wiregrass Ranch High, both serving the same Wesley Chapel community as Seven Oaks.
Crews Lake Middle, which had sat at about two-thirds full, will fill up with the kids from Shady Hills Elementary as the district renovates Shady Hills. Watergrass and Wesley Chapel elementary schools also will see their numbers jump by about 200 children each as they absorb Quail Hollow Elementary students for that school's upgrades. Ongoing growth at Connerton Elementary School also has officials contemplating the time frame for rebuilding Sanders Elementary, which closed when Connerton opened.
Overall, the district projects 23 schools frozen for school choice transfers. The next big question is whether the state projections will match the district's — something that hasn't happened in the past few years, usually to the detriment of the district. Stay tuned.