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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

West Pasco parents get time to vent over school boundary revisions



Months after first hearing their school attendance zones might be redrawn, parents living in southwest Pasco County get their chance to give their input at a public hearing at 6 p.m. tonight at River Ridge High School.

Many officials and interested observers have suggested the two-hour session will offer little clarity, as already upset and anxious parents will come to speak not on a single proposal, but rather five. (See the options here.) That's because the advisory committee assigned with crafting a recommendation did not arrive at a conclusion, as instructed, when it last met.

The upshot is the expectation that residents of various communities that might be moved will face off against one another, hoping to preserve their zone at the expense of the others. Many people have already filled the email inboxes of the superintendent and School Board members, invoking emotion, statistics and rules as a way to make their cases.

Several will get to speak at the meeting, but officials have said it will be a "listening session," meaning no answers will be forthcoming until the advisory committee reconvenes Thursday morning.

That committee has come under attack for its inability to reach a recommendation, and also for what some have seen as bias for one area over another. It's become so bad that the wife of Seven Springs Middle School principal Chris Dunning emailed the School Board to urge the removal of Mitchell High principal Jessica Schultz from the committee.

"She is not professional, is not taking this seriously, is swaying those she has befriended and she has power over and her decision making is not based on facts and data," Jeannie Dunning wrote of Schultz. "She has yet to explain any of her decisions with factual correct numbers."

Dunning's husband has been accused of much the same.

"During the last half of the meeting on Monday, it became VERY evident that Dr. Dunning (as well as Mr. [David] Goldstein) was relentlessly injecting his own personal agenda into the discussion," parent Wendy Reinert wrote to superintendent Kurt Browning. "Doing so was a direct & blantant violation of ALL of the guidelines you have set forth for the entire committee...guidelines they ALL pledged to abide by."

Browning has said he plans to revisit the role of principals in the rezoning process in the future. District spokeswoman Linda Cobbe said all principals in the current process "have again been reminded of their role."

The School Board retains the final vote on how to redraw the attendance zones. It is expected to act in January, after two public hearings.

[Last modified: Monday, November 14, 2016 12:12pm]


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