Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Decline in Pasco County school enrollment less than feared

LAND O'LAKES — The official fall head count shows Pasco County school enrollment is down — but the problem is only half as bad as district officials previously feared.

The district experienced a 191-student decrease, but it's much more manageable than the September count that showed a loss of about 400 students, threatening a loss of millions in state funding. The district's budget still is likely to shrink, but not by as much.

It will be a while before officials know the bottom-line figure, though. Pasco's state and local funding per student is set at $6,334, but there are other variables that affect individual students' funding. State analysts must review the classification of each student, which will determine exactly how much the district will get in student funding.

"From that state report, we will obtain a better picture of our budget shortfall, if any," district spokeswoman Summer Romagnoli said.

The official student count on Friday was 67,337, an improvement over the 20th-day count of 67,110. The overall drop comes despite state projections that the district would grow by 46 students.

District planners, expecting flat enrollment, already advised the School Board to set aside funding for 46 students while budgeting, with plans to return the money to the state. Now the board will have to do without money for another 191 students.

One of the key reasons for the enrollment decrease lies in new state law.

Florida lawmakers expanded access to McKay scholarships for students with disabilities during their spring session. As a result, Pasco saw its numbers of McKay students rise from 389 last year to 482 this year.

Those students take their state funding with them to private schools.

The district also has seen an increase in participation in home schooling, charter schools and virtual education. It is waiting to learn exact numbers of students attending the Pasco eSchool, which could further reduce the enrollment slide.

Adding to the anticipated financial woes could be financial penalties for failing to meet the 2002 class-size amendment requirements. The state has estimated those fines will be $4,800 for each student over in grades K-3 and $4,400 for each student over in grades 4-12.

The final count indicated that 18.5 percent of elementary classrooms, 15.9 percent of middle school classrooms and 13 percent of high school classrooms were out of compliance, representing 884 students.

That's better than preliminary counts in which the district was 986 students over the caps, but still well off the established goals of 18 students per teacher in kindergarten through third grade, 22 students in fourth through eighth grade, and 25 students in high school.

"The funding was simply inadequate to meet the mandate without completely devastating noncore area classes," Romagnoli said.

Pasco was in full compliance with the amendment last year. It joined a growing list of districts that failed to hit the mark this year.

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

Decline in Pasco County school enrollment less than feared 10/18/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 18, 2011 7:43pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Lightning takes defenseman Cal Foote with top pick in draft

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — Former Avalanche defenseman Adam Foote said his son Cal lived in the locker room.

    Cal Foote, second from left, is welcomed to the Lightning by GM Steve Yzerman, far left.
  2. It's Rays' turn to pound Orioles pitching (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG - Ah, the fantastic four.

    The Rays smashed the reeling Orioles 15-5 on Friday, scoring a season-high in runs, to climb four games above .500 for the first time since July 1, 2015.

    Rays third baseman Evan Longoria scores on a triple by Logan Morrison during the first inning against the Orioles.
  3. Lightning picks defenseman Cal Foote


    Cal Foote is the son of former Avs defenseman Adam Foote.
  4. Kids today: They don't work summer jobs the way they used to


    WASHINGTON — It was at Oregon's Timberline Lodge, later known as a setting in the horror movie The Shining, where Patrick Doyle earned his first real paycheck.

    Teens Ben Testa, from left, Hannah Waring and Abby McDonough, and Wegmeyer Farms owner Tyler Wegmeyer walk the strawberry rows at the Hamilton, Va., farm in late May.
  5. Jeb Bush back in the hunt for the Marlins, now opposing Derek Jeter


    Associated Press:

    Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has switched sides in pursuit of the Miami Marlins, and he’s trying to beat out former teammate Derek Jeter.