Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pasco officials surprised by surge in school enrollment

LAND O'LAKES — Pasco County school district officials have been caught off guard by rapidly rising student enrollment in the first two weeks of classes.

Attendance was 63,421 on Friday, up 1,381 students from the 10th day of classes a year earlier. State projections had the district student count dropping by about 500.

"The exception is a school that is not at its capacity," superintendent Kurt Browning told the School Board on Tuesday. "We have elementary schools with just as many kids in portables as in permanent classrooms."

The growth is most prominent in the Wiregrass Ranch area, with the Oakstead zone not far behind. But schools in other areas are experiencing big gains, as well. Those include Chasco and Cotee River elementary schools, both up by more than 100 students from a year ago; Seven Springs Middle, up 116; and Hudson and Wesley Chapel high schools, both up almost 200.

Board chairwoman Cynthia Armstrong, a real estate agent, said she expected the gains to continue, as new home construction and sales are seeing "nothing but growth."

This rapid jump, after a few years of relatively stagnant student population, has put the district in a vexing position.

"It's a challenge for us," Browning said. "The Penny (for Pasco sales tax) renewal that occurred last year is all dedicated to remodeling. So we have our backs against the wall, because we have some areas that we know we are going to have to build some schools."

The district is working on how to handle the crowded schools, with a goal of getting as close as possible to meeting the state class size law. At the same time, Browning said, the administration is looking for longer-term solutions.

Said Browning, "We are looking at a number of things."

Pasco officials surprised by surge in school enrollment 09/03/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 3, 2013 2:30pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Have your say Tampa Bay on the region's future transit options

    Mass Transit

    TAMPA — It's time, yet again, for Tampa Bay residents to tell officials what kind of transit options they want for their region.

    The Cross-Bay Ferry docks at the Tampa Convention Center on its maiden voyage on Nov. 1, 2016. A regional premium transit study will determine whether a ferry, or other options such as express buses or light rail, would be a good addition to Tampa Bay. [SCOTT KEELER  |  Times]
  2. Today, a total eclipse of the sun will span the entire United States, crossing from the West Coast to the East Coast, for the first time in 99 years. (Dreamstime/TNS)
  3. What is poke? Here's how to make the Hawaiian dish at home


    In Hawaiian, "poke" simply means "to cut."

    Tuna Poke Bowl: For a classic poke bowl, try this recipe with ahi (yellowfin) and only a few other ingredients.
  4. MOSI, SPC, libraries offer safe solar eclipse viewing Monday


    If you couldn't score some of the hard-to-find eyewear that will let you watch Monday's solar eclipse, have no fear, there are safe viewing choices across the Tampa Bay area.

    Twin Falls High School science teachers Ashley Moretti, left, and Candace Wright, right, use their eclipse shades to look at the sun as they pose for a portrait at Twin Falls High School in Twin Falls, Idaho. The district bought 11,000 pairs of solar glasses, enough for every student and staff member to view the solar eclipse Aug. 21

(Pat Sutphin/The Times-News via AP)
  5. SOCom seeks civilian drone pilots to develop new technology through ThunderDrone


    TAMPA — For the last three years, Nicole Abbett has been using drones as part of her photography business, with clients like the city of Tampa and construction companies.

    Josh Newby, 31, Palm Harbor, of Tampa Drones fly's a drone in England Brothers park, Pinellas Park, 8/25/16. As drone popularity increases as a hobby and business, local governments are navigating a legal grey area- where, when, and how should drone flights be allowed?