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Trinity parents urge delay in redrawing Mitchell High School attendance zone



Decked out in red, dozens of Trinity-area parents packed Tuesday's Pasco School Board meeting, aiming to head off a planned revision of Mitchell High School's attendance zone that could find them sending their children elsewhere.

Many were livid at the idea that the district would consider reassigning their homes to nearby high schools with open seats, such as Anclote, Gulf and River Ridge. They argued that the growth coming to their section of west Pasco was long evident, and school and county officials should have done more to prepare.

Taking their community school away, they argued, would be unfair.

"What I really find, I find we’ve been sold out," said parent Jennifer Gall, who told the board her family had invested 20 years in the community. "I’m going to just call a spade a spade."

Parent Lauren Mitchell argued that the current residents deserve better.

"We’ve created our community. Our children grew up together in this community," she said. "We are tired of lining the pockets of developers to the detriments of our community."

They called on the district to root out students attending Mitchell on false addresses. They suggested that families who can hear the Mitchell High band practice at night be allowed to stay at the school.

More than anything, they asked for more time to find a palatable solution to the school's increasing crowdedness. District officials have said they want to have a plan adopted by February -- less than four months from now.

"We are here to partner with you," parent David Phillips told the board. "Give it the due diligence it deserves."

Mark McBride, who lives in the Seven Oaks subdivision of Wesley Chapel, noted his community also faces possible rezoning as the district works to ease crowding at Wiregrass Ranch High. That proposal hasn't drawn as much controversy, as it includes the opening of a new school.

McBride suggested the district had done "too good a job with the schools," in that no one wants to leave the ones they attend. The best way to find common ground, he said, is to engage the families in a meaningful and open way.

"It's a shame the state has put you in this position," McBride said. "There's no easy way out, unless you get the community to rally behind you."

School district officials said they are taking all the residents' comments under advisement, and stressed no decisions have been made. The parents said they would continue to attend meetings and voice their views throughout the planning process.

The first meeting for the Wesley Chapel area rezoning is Friday morning. The first meeting for the Trinity area is set for Oct. 5.

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 14, 2016 2:53pm]


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