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Committee crafts new school zones for central Pasco

WESLEY CHAPEL — With little hue and cry, a committee of Pasco County parents and school district officials on Monday redrew attendance zones in order to ease crowding at Wiregrass Ranch High and John Long Middle schools.

The proposals would reduce Long Middle from 138 percent of its capacity to 118 percent. Wiregrass Ranch would see its crowding shrink from 129 percent of its capacity to 110 percent.

"It was data driven," parent member Kristina Samples said of the proposals, which still require School Board approval.

She noted that the committees focused on transportation costs, student numbers, demographics and other such details, while trying not to get into the emotions that can be involved with switching schools.

Some parents suggested that it would not be fair to move teens entering their junior year out of a school where they have worked hard to succeed. The committee decided that all students in affected areas would move except for next year's seniors.

"The intent is to get Wiregrass at a manageable level," assistant superintendent Jim Davis said.

The proposals would:

• Move students in the Cox Elementary zone out of the feeder pattern for Weightman Middle and Wesley Chapel High, and put them into Pasco Middle and Pasco High.

• Take children in the New River area, including Ashley Pines, and move them to Weightman Middle and Wesley Chapel High.

• Transfer students living in the Morris Bridge area to Stewart Middle and Wesley Chapel High.

The Centennial Middle School and Zephyrhills High School zones remained unchanged.

The committee looked for ways to keep all the feeder patterns together. That didn't prove possible, though.

"The high schools aren't overcrowded the same as the middle schools," assistant superintendent Tina Tiede said. "It's not going to mesh perfectly the way we would like it to."

The next step is to present the proposals to parents in the affected schools. The meetings are scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Nov. 30 at Wesley Chapel High and 6:30 p.m. Dec. 7 at Stewart Middle.

The School Board is expected to have its first review of the proposals on Dec. 21, with final action on Jan. 18. If a school boundary is changed, all parents who attend that school on a choice plan would have to reapply.

Planning director Chris Williams said the district will take special efforts to ensure that all parents are informed, as there appeared to be problems arising with this issue in the creation of Odessa Elementary School's zone for this year.

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at solochek@sptimes.com or (813) 909-4614. For more education news visit the Gradebook blog at www.tampabay.com/blogs/gradebook.

Committee crafts new school zones for central Pasco 11/01/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 2, 2010 9:43pm]

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