Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pasco officials reject expansion plans for Imagine School

LAND O'LAKES — Close to three dozen parents turned out Tuesday to urge the Pasco County School Board to let their charter school grow.

They left disappointed.

Board members unanimously rejected the Imagine School at Land O'Lakes' request to expand its maximum enrollment by 102 students, to 650, citing concerns with the school's declining enrollment, possibly troubled finances and other related matters. The school has seen its student count drop by 13 percent in the past year.

Imagine principal Kathy Helean suggested that the school would grow once it has a new, permanent campus. One is planned for Sunlake Boulevard north of State Road 54, she said, but the school needs a guarantee that it can add students to get financial commitments to build.

"We cannot develop our permanent facility if we cannot fill all the seats," Helean told the board. "We recognize that we are taking the risk of attracting parents and students to our school."

The school has submitted plans to the county, but has not yet received any approvals from the Development Review Committee or any other entity.

School Board vice chairman Allen Altman doubted the notion that Imagine could win all the needed permits and have a new school open by October, as presented.

"I don't want to get parents upset, and I don't want to burst your bubble," he told the crowd. "But if you have not gotten to DRC yet, it will be a miraculous thing" to have the school ready by the fall.

He said he would need to see the school's financial statements proving it can remain fiscally viable if it were to build the facility and then not meet enrollment projections. District chief financial officer Olga Swinson noted that the school has run deficits in the past, surviving only because the parent Imagine School company in Virginia covered the losses.

With decreasing enrollment, Swinson said, the school could run in the red again.

Helean said the parent Imagine company has pledged to cover the construction costs if the school does not meet student projections. But she remained confident the school would grow if it is in a new facility.

Parents agreed.

"A lot of parents don't want their children going to an office park," said Linda Ann Spurza, referring to the school's temporary location on State Road 54. "The new school is going to be bringing a lot of parents. If you would allow the extra enrollment, we're going to fill it."

Board members had their doubts, though. They noted that some other Pasco charter schools have less appealing permanent facilities than Imagine's temporary site, yet they have waiting lists while Imagine shrinks.

Assistant superintendent Renalia DuBose and charter schools supervisor Nancy Scowcroft said they also have sought more information about the construction project, noting that Imagine's expansions have proven controversial in other parts of the country.

Reports have indicated that the company has a complex arrangement in which it builds the campus through one subsidiary, owns it through another and then leases the buildings to the actual school, which pays state money to the parent company to rent the property.

Scowcroft said Imagine School at Land O'Lakes has not yet provided details about the finances behind the construction project.

After the board vote, parent Lisa Deubel blasted the board for its stance.

"These schools are hideous here," she said, criticizing Oakstead Elementary in particular for failing to meet her children's academic needs. Imagine, by contrast, is "phenomenal," she said.

"Please reconsider," she said. "It's a shame, and I am sorely disappointed."

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

>>fast facts

In other news

The Pasco School Board on Tuesday approved a request to expand the Dayspring Academy charter school's enrollment by 30 students. It rejected Dayspring's proposal to let 18 prekindergarten students into its K-8 program without going through an open admission lottery.

Pasco officials reject expansion plans for Imagine School 03/01/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 1, 2011 8:50pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Bucs' Doug Martin relying on strength from drug rehab to power his return

    Bucs

    TAMPA — He would not talk about the drug he abused. He would not identify the rehab facility he entered in January or how long he was there.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin participates in an "open OTA practice" at One Buc Place, the team's training facility, in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday, May 23, 2017.
  2. NCAA: Former USF basketball assistant gave improper benefits

    Colleges

    TAMPA — Former USF men's basketball assistant coach Oliver Antigua provided impermissible benefits, including lodging at his home, for two prospective student-athletes while they received on-campus tutoring, according to findings reported to the school by the NCAA.

  3. Assault charge may not sway voters in Montana election (w/video)

    Nation

    BOZEMAN, Mont. — Republican multimillionaire Greg Gianforte won Montana's only U.S. House seat on Thursday despite being charged a day earlier with assault after witnesses said he grabbed a reporter by the neck and threw him to the ground.

    People fill out ballots for the special election to fill Montana's only U.S. House seat at the Montana Pavilion at MetraPark on Thursday in Billings, Mont. [Associated Press]
  4. Quiet college dropout turned bomber: Who was Salman Abedi?

    World

    LONDON — He was quiet and withdrawn, a college dropout who liked soccer — and, some say, showed alarming signs of being radicalized years before he walked into a pop concert at Britain's Manchester Arena and detonated a powerful bomb, killing himself and 22 others.

    Salman Abedi was identified by British authorities as the man behind Monday’s attack.
  5. Soldiers launch attacks in besieged Philippine city

    World

    MARAWI, Philippines — Backed by tanks and rocket-firing helicopters, Philippine troops launched "precision attacks" Thursday to clear extremists linked to the Islamic State group from a city that has been under siege since a raid that failed to capture one of Asia's most-wanted militants.

    Soldiers fire at enemy positions Thursday while trying to clear the city of Marawi, Philippines, of armed militants.