Sunday, April 22, 2018
Education

Pasco’s Ridgewood High gets new name that honors its past

LAND O’LAKES — What a difference a year makes.

The Pasco County School Board held a public hearing Tuesday to hear community input on proposed new attendance zones for west-side high schools. This time only two people spoke out.

Parent Michael Krietemeyer told the board its concept for a technical high school to serve the area was "really great." But the plan to reassign current Ridgewood High students to either Fivay or Gulf high, depending which side of Ridge Road they live on, is crushing, he argued.

"They’re heartbroken. I can’t even get them to talk about it," said Krietemeyer, who has a freshman and junior at Ridgewood. "You stripped them of their high school … and you’re trying to force them to other schools where they don’t want to go."

Parent Jim Stanley, whose neighborhood was reassigned from Mitchell to River Ridge high a year ago, complained that the new rezoning does nothing to alleviate crowding in area schools, as promised. Stanley, who is suing the district over the past year’s boundary maps, urged the board to send his community back to Mitchell and reconsider its plans.

And that was it.

Just a year ago, dozens of parents packed the room over several weeks, including two public hearings, to rage against the attendance zone proposals being considered at the time. This go-round, board members said they’ve received almost no feedback.

Some board members speculated that the difference came down to the types of neighborhoods the schools serve. Mitchell’s more active upper middle-class parents fought back, they said, while Ridgewood’s more economically depressed community did not. The board will continue to accept written comment until it takes a vote on the Ridgewood conversion boundaries in January.

During their meeting, board members said they wanted to pay tribute to Ridgewood’s past as it pivots to its future as a technical school.

"It’s going to be a change that will benefit a lot of students," vice chairwoman Alison Crumbley said. "But it’s important that we pay attention to the history."

With that goal in mind, the board unanimously agreed to rename the school Wendell Krinn Technical High School after Ridgewood’s founding principal, who served there 20 years and passed away in 2016.

"He always sought excellence, no matter what it was," said chairwoman Cynthia Armstrong, who taught at Ridgewood under Krinn.

Krinn’s widow, Martha, and other family members sat quietly in the boardroom, hoping for the honor that dozens of residents recommended. After the vote, they hugged each other, board members and district staff.

"I think it’s fitting, and I’m very, very pleased," Martha Krinn said. "He would be so pleased."

Contact Jeffrey S. Solochek at (813) 909-4614 or [email protected] Follow @jeffsolochek.

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