Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Enrollment surge has Wiregrass Ranch High bursting at seams

Officials say Wiregrass Ranch High is bursting at the seams with students, but they have no solutions. Wiregrass language arts instructor Paula Berry hands out candy to her students, Antonio Medina and Melissa Papa, earlier this year.

DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times

Officials say Wiregrass Ranch High is bursting at the seams with students, but they have no solutions. Wiregrass language arts instructor Paula Berry hands out candy to her students, Antonio Medina and Melissa Papa, earlier this year.

WESLEY CHAPEL — Students streamed through the hallways of Wiregrass Ranch High School even as the third-period bell rang Friday morning.

Principal Robyn White shrugged and said she understood why some kids would be late to class.

The school has 20 portables out back, and it takes some time to hustle from one end of campus to the other.

A bigger concern is what to do if more students show up.

Wiregrass Ranch, which closed the last school year with about 1,970 students, hit the 2,200 mark — its highest enrollment since opening — in its second week of the new semester. And more teens have registered daily.

How quickly is the school growing? It sat at 2,090 students on Aug. 19, when classes resumed.

"I've been asking district what to do next," White said, noting that she has space to float just three more teachers — no classrooms for them — and might have found a way to squeeze three more portables onto campus.

Boundary shifts might seem a natural move. But School Board member Allen Altman, who represents the region, said such changes aren't so simple.

"We have schools that are over, and we have many schools that are just right at the limit," Altman said.

Wesley Chapel High was bumping up against its capacity of 1,518, while Zephyrhills High was nearly 300 students above its 1,082 permanent seats. Pasco High also exceeded its capacity.

Sunlake High had plenty of open seats, but it sits 13 miles from Wiregrass Ranch.

"We don't really have the funds to build a school," planning director Chris Williams said, suggesting that a new campus could resolve the crowding issues throughout east Pasco.

Superintendent Kurt Browning and other top district officials have approached Pasco-Hernando Community College leaders about sharing space at the college's new Porter campus, adjacent to Wiregrass Ranch High, once the buildings open. That idea is in its very early stages, though, and would not resolve the issue this year.

White joked that she might have to put a "no room at the inn" sign in front of the campus if the enrollment surge continues. She pointed to Seminole High School in Seminole County, where new students who aren't incoming freshmen are being directed elsewhere because of crowding.

"Due to state law on class size, Seminole High School is closed to new student enrollment for 2013-2014. Only students zoned to Seminole County High School who are currently in 8th grade will be enrolled for 9th grade next year," the district's website states. "Any new students to the Seminole High School zone may choose to attend Lyman, Oviedo, or Winter Springs high schools. Transportation is provided."

Gorrie Elementary School in Tampa also did not admit any new students in 2012-13 because it had no room for added classrooms and did not want to violate state class-size rules.

Williams said he didn't think sending away students who live in the zone would be an option for Wiregrass Ranch. But then, he added, "We're not sure what the answer is yet."

Altman expected teacher reassignments (at the very least) to meet the growing demand after the 20th day of classes, which comes Sept. 16. District-wide, Pasco's enrollment is about 1,000 students above projections.

"They know they are going to have to add allocations, and are preparing to do that," Altman said. "It continues to be a challenge."

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at jsolochek@tampabay.com, (813) 909-4614 or on Twitter @jeffsolochek. For more education news visit the Gradebook at tampabay.com/blogs/gradebook.

Enrollment surge has Wiregrass Ranch High bursting at seams 08/30/13 [Last modified: Friday, August 30, 2013 6:38pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays acquire slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria from Marlins

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Chaim Bloom said the Rays weren't necessarily in the market for a shortstop. The team has a number of those. But when the Marlins recently began shopping Adeiny Hechavarria, well, that was too much to pass up.

    Adeiny Hechavarria has emerged as one of baseball’s top defensive shortstops in the past three seasons with the Marlins.
  2. Lightning journal: Forward Yanni Gourde agrees to two-year deal

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Just three years ago, Yanni Gourde was fighting to stay in pro hockey.

    Tampa Bay Lightning center Yanni Gourde celebrates after scoring against the Florida Panthers during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 11, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA108
  3. Fennelly: About time Dave Andreychuk makes Hockey Hall of Fame

    Lightning Strikes

    It's Andy's time.

    And it's about time.

    Former Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk has been elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame. He had been eligible since 2009, a ridiculously long wait for someone who scored 640 goals, including a record 274 on the power play.

    LEFT: Dave Andreychuk talks at the podium as he is honored with a statue in front of the now-Amalie Arena.
  4. British government says 75 out of 75 buildings failed fire safety tests

    World

    LONDON — Britain on Monday confronted a rapidly growing fire safety crisis after tests of the exterior cladding on dozens of public housing towers revealed a 100 percent failure rate, raising fears that this month's deadly inferno in London could be repeated elsewhere.

    Spanish surrealist painter Salvador Dali, presents his first Chrono-Hologram in Paris, France, in 1973. A Spanish judge on Monday June 26, 2017, has ordered the remains of artist Salvador Dali to be exhumed following a paternity suit by a woman named by Europa Press agency as Pilar Abel, 61 from the nearby city of Girona. Dali, considered one of the fathers of surrealism in art, died in 1989 and is buried in his museum in the northeastern town of Figueres. [Associated Press]
  5. Man convicted of second-degree murder in killing of Baby Doe, his girlfriend's daughter

    Nation

    BOSTON — A man was convicted Monday of murder in the death of a 2-year-old girl who became known as Baby Doe after her remains washed up on the shore of a Boston Harbor island.

    Michael McCarthy’s friend Michael Sprinsky, far left, gets a hug from sister Laura Sprinsky after McCarthy is found guilty of second-degree murder in the death of Bella Bond, who became known as Baby Doe.