Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Although some Pasco schools have fewer students, others are nearly overwhelmed

ODESSA — Even as enrollment in Pasco schools falls short of projections, some schools continue to see soaring growth and the crowding that comes with it.

Wesley Chapel Elementary has served as the poster child for years in this regard, but Oakstead Elementary is now challenging for that spot. With an average daily attendance of 1,115 students, Oakstead has become the county's most populated elementary, and it has the 22 portables out back to prove it.

Unlike Wesley Chapel, though, Oakstead has no promise of relief in sight.

But district officials are working on it.

On Friday, assistant superintendent Ray Gadd told his property acquisition manager to send off a purchase proposal to the Dioceses of St. Petersburg for 20 acres on Community Drive, just off State Road 54 behind the Trinity Memorial Gardens cemetery. District and diocese officials have been talking about a land deal there for several weeks.

"I think we're in sync," Gadd said. "I think they're wanting to negotiate."

Steve Zientek, planning manager for the diocese, was out of town and not available for comment.

If the district can work out a deal, it hopes to begin construction on a new elementary school that would ease crowding at Oakstead, which stands at 146 percent of capacity with expectations it will reach 170 percent of capacity by the time classes end in June. The new school also would take students from Longleaf Elementary, which currently is at 134 percent of its permanent capacity.

Gadd said he'd like to see a school open at the site by August 2010, though some on his staff have told him such a goal might be too ambitious.

"I don't know if it's possible," Gadd said. "But that's what I would be trying to do."

If enrollment remains steady, rather than skyrocketing again, the system's remaining planned construction projects could bring Pasco schools closer to their intended sizes than at any time in recent memory. The plan includes new elementary schools in Connerton and the Watergrass subdivision of Wesley Chapel, and new high schools in Hudson and Holiday.

A school in Odessa would represent the final critical piece.

Pasco's average daily enrollment, as of the 20th day of classes, was 64,858 — about 100 more than last year at the same time but also below projections for this year. The shortfall could cost the district about $4-million in funding.

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at or (813) 909-4614. For more education news, visit the Gradebook at

Although some Pasco schools have fewer students, others are nearly overwhelmed 09/19/08 [Last modified: Saturday, September 20, 2008 11:11pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. As Trump's fraud commission sought data, some Florida voters cancelled registrations


    After news spread last month that President Donald Trump’s fraud commission was requesting voter data from all 50 states, 1,715 voters in Florida took themselves off the …

    Kansas Secretary of State, Kris Kobach (R) and US Vice President Mike Pence, attend the first meeting of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, on July 19, in Washington, DC.
  2. We're big fans of keeping it cool with fun inside this summer


    It's safe to say we take the complex, mysterious unicorn of air conditioning for granted.

    How cold is too cold? Researchers have tried for years to determine an ideal thermostat setting for offices, and it’s a hard question to answer.
  3. Former SEAL Kristin Beck blasts Trump decision banning transgenders from military


    Kristin Beck, a former member of SEAL Team 6 who is now a transgender woman, says the decision by President Donald Trump to ban transgender people from serving in the military would cost more in lawsuits than the savings Trump touted in medical and other costs.

    Kristin Beck, who has transitioned from former Navy SEAL Chris Beck, says President Trump's ban on transgender people in the military disrupts ongoing efforts to integrate them into the services. [Times file]
  4. 5 things to do under $5 July: Bucs training camp, Dive-In Movie, free Glazer Museum admission


    1 Bucs Training Camp: The public is invited to a series of free Bucs practices through Aug. 26. And don't forget this season HBO's Hard Knocks will focus on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, including quarterback Jameis Winston, right. There will be discounted concessions, merchandise tents, appearances by …

    LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times (2016) Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston.