Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Imagine School at Land O'Lakes enrolls more kids than anticipated

LAND O'LAKES — When it first applied to open in Pasco County, the Imagine School could not convince officials that its plans to open with 434 students were realistic.

The School Board rejected the Virginia-based charter school firm's request for a 2007 contract, and the state Board of Education upheld that decision.

A year later, the Imagine School at Land O'Lakes has registered 424 students to begin next school year, and it has a waiting list of about 180. It has dropped plans to offer prekindergarten in order to make room for more classes of kindergarten through sixth grade.

"We've had a tremendous, tremendous response," principal John Selover said. "We're looking at a bigger group than we had initially planned for."

It's a bigger number than the school district had anticipated, too. And that could prove problematic.

Imagine's charter application sought permission to open with about 280 students. That's the number the School Board approved and submitted to the state for funding purposes, too.

But the district and the charter school have not completed their contract negotiations yet. That document is scheduled to come to the School Board on Tuesday for consideration.

And while the sides have negotiated terms, Imagine has pushed to get its approved student population higher than what it proposed in its application. Selover talked about having 350 students back in March, and now he's angling for 424.

There's nothing that can prevent the school from asking, and nothing that can prevent the district from rejecting the request.

But the state's financial picture is bad enough that some school district officials are warning Selover that Imagine possibly could end up without funding for every student. In dire times, such as after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the state has frozen its student funding at a set date to help balance the budget.

Schools then got no extra money to cover additional students who enrolled.

If that happens this year, as some school finance experts have predicted, then it will affect the charter school, too.

"Right now it's a bone of contention for them," assistant superintendent Renalia DuBose said. "Imagine doesn't understand if the state freezes it, they freeze it. We're trying to work that out."

The charter school has other issues to overcome, as well.

It still does not have county approval to build on the site at Morgan Road and U.S. 41 where it wants to open. Until that gets worked out, the school plans to operate from a 22,000-square-foot professional park about 3 miles west of U.S. 41 on State Road 54.

"We're figuring on being there a full year," Selover said.

He said he wasn't worried about any of the negotiating issues, saying the district has been cooperative in helping the school. The school has its buses on layaway, furniture on order and a book list ready to go. Everyone is jazzed about having an alternative educational choice, he said.

"I've even had a lot of people ask, 'Are you going to do a high school?' " Selover said, quickly adding, "That's not ever been a conversation."

Count Margarida Wainraich among the enthusiasts. She has pulled her two kids out of Sanders Elementary, where she served last year as PTA president, to try the Imagine School.

"I don't want my kid to be one of 1,000. I prefer my kid to be one of 424," Wainraich said. "I'm looking at it as free private school."

She acknowledged that the school might not fly. But if not, she noted, Sanders still will be there: "The way I look at it is, I have absolutely nothing to lose."

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

Imagine School at Land O'Lakes enrolls more kids than anticipated 06/11/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 17, 2008 12:49pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Estuary wins pier design contest for the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway extension

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — And the winner is… Estuary.

    Voters overwhelmingly supported a pier design called Estuary for the $200-million extension of the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway in Tampa.
[Courtesy of AECOM]
  2. What to watch and listen to this week: Halloween offerings, best spooky podcasts


    Halloween is all about scary stories. The holiday itself is based on a compilation of creepy tales from history going back thousands of years.

    The Halloween kids classic The Nightmare Before Christmas airs this week on Freeform.
  3. Fennelly: Would you take Jameis Winston over Cam Newton?


    Factoring out futures, it wouldn't be a short list if I picked NFL quarterbacks I'd take right now over Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston.

    Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston (3) calls a play during the first half of Sunday's game. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  4. Man faces charge of abuse after 2-month-old injured


    ZEPHYRHILLS — A 2-month-old child was taken to All Children's Hospital with multiple skull fractures Saturday afternoon, according to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office, and a 24-year-old man has been arrested.

    Jacob Brattain, 24, of Zephyrhills is charged with aggravated child abuse and was arrested Sunday. According to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office, a 2-month-old child suffered multiple skull fractures under his care.
  5. Amazon receives 238 proposals from places eager to become its 2nd headquarters


    NEW YORK — Amazon said Monday that it received 238 proposals from cities and regions in the United States, Canada and Mexico hoping to be the home of the company's second headquarters.

    Earlier this month, an Amazon employee gives her dog a biscuit as the pair head into a company building, where dogs are welcome, in Seattle. Amazon says it received 238 proposals from cities and regions hoping to be the home of the company's second headquarters. 
[AP Photo/Elaine Thompson]