Sunday, February 18, 2018
Education

School choice, program options are many in Pasco

LAND O'LAKES — Pasco County students and parents face a broader array of education options as the district's 2014-15 school choice application window opens.

District officials are touting several new opportunities for families to consider if they want to attend a school other than the ones that their children are assigned to. They include a recently started aeronautics academy at Sunlake High, and an on-campus virtual program called Infinity at Stewart Middle and Zephyrhills and Anclote high schools.

The district also is starting the advanced Cambridge program at Pasco Middle and Pasco High, although the application deadline has passed. These additions come alongside existing choices such as high school career academies, International Baccalaureate, gifted programs and the K-8 model at Crews Lake.

None of the options come with district transportation.

Superintendent Kurt Browning has set a goal of expanding the district's offerings to meet student needs, and turn around a stream of children who have headed to private and charter schools in Pasco County. Planners are working on establishing magnet programs, such as science and engineering, at Sanders, Quail Hollow and Shady Hills elementary schools as they are rebuilt, for instance.

They also are looking at a 6-12 grade configuration for a new school that will be built in Wesley Chapel in the coming few years. Plans for a "blended" home/classroom learning program at Wiregrass Ranch High have been put on hold after receiving limited interest.

Families also can apply to any school that has open seats. But as usual, close to half of the district's schools are likely to be closed to open enrollment transfers because they already have met or exceeded their capacity.

The list includes 14 of 46 elementary schools, five of 15 middle schools and six of 13 high schools. Planning director Chris Williams said another eight schools are likely to be frozen for choice as well, two because they are under construction and six because they are close to reaching capacity and they sit in high-growth areas.

That doesn't mean you can't submit requests to attend those schools, though, as their enrollments can shift and seats might become available. In many years, in fact, the district's most crowded schools have received the most choice applications.

District spokeswoman Linda Cobbe said families seeking to take advantage of any of the options must apply online this year at www.pasco.k12.fl.us/ed_choice/school_choice/registration, as the schools will not be taking paper applications.

Students who already have received choice reassignments do not have to reapply, unless they come to Pasco from another county or they have moved residences, Cobbe said.

Out-of-county applicants must provide proof of permission from their home district along with their applications.

Student-athletes who transfer high schools will have to make a separate appeal to the district's Athletic Transfer Participation Committee if they wish to continue playing sports at their new school. Otherwise they are considered ineligible for one year.

The district will take choice applications through March 1. It expects to provide decisions to families who meet the deadline by the end of the current school year. Parents would have three days to file a written appeal if they don't like the outcome.

In recent years, the district's choice rejection rate has climbed to close to 30 percent, as schools have had to meet state class size requirements. Before that, close to 90 percent of families received their choice requests.

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

Comments
From meek to militant: The Florida teachers strike that unsettled a nation and fueled a movement

From meek to militant: The Florida teachers strike that unsettled a nation and fueled a movement

Some teachers left goodbye messages to their students on classroom blackboards. Others cleared their desks.It was Feb. 16, 1968, a Friday, and a sign of what was coming that Monday in Florida: the nation’s first statewide teachers strike.When schools...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Principal of a pained Stoneman Douglas High just sent a message to his students

Principal of a pained Stoneman Douglas High just sent a message to his students

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High principal Ty Thompson exuded deep emotion and a positive view forward in his first public comments since Wednesday’s mass shooting that killed 17 people.In the two-minute video posted on the school’s website and YouTube,...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Hillsborough rethinks its strategy for struggling schools

Hillsborough rethinks its strategy for struggling schools

TAMPA — "Elevate," a Hillsborough County School District initiative that was to focus on seven troubled schools and use them as models for dozens more, is becoming but a memory as the district seeks instead to support all schools equally."We’re more ...
Published: 02/17/18
Plant High students commemorate Parkland victims with sidewalk messages

Plant High students commemorate Parkland victims with sidewalk messages

TAMPA — Students at Plant High School honored the victims of the Parkland school shooting with a series of sidewalk chalk messages.The chalk art carried a series of messages such as "How many times?" and "Do something. Protect us." according to a Fac...
Published: 02/16/18
At public schools in Tampa Bay, a day to mourn, assess and reinforce

At public schools in Tampa Bay, a day to mourn, assess and reinforce

While fielding calls from anxious parents after the Broward County high school shooting that claimed 17 lives, school officials in the Tampa Bay area took a close look Thursday at what they are doing to keep students safe.There are gates and locks an...
Published: 02/15/18
Joe Henderson: April Griffin won’t run again for school board. She says she means it this time.

Joe Henderson: April Griffin won’t run again for school board. She says she means it this time.

Assuming April Griffin follows through on her decision not to seek re-election to the Hillsborough County School Board, well, meetings just won’t be the same. Chances are they’ll just be filled with boring reports, proclamations and routine business....
Published: 02/15/18
‘I don’t get paid for teaching,’ says Pinellas teacher accused of inappropriate acts. Now he’s gone

‘I don’t get paid for teaching,’ says Pinellas teacher accused of inappropriate acts. Now he’s gone

A St. Petersburg High teacher has retired in the middle of the school year after students said he called them "baby," "babe," "missy," "honey," "sweetie," "little girl" and ended one girl’s name with "-licious."The Pinellas County school district fou...
Published: 02/15/18
Interim principal says teamwork will lift long-struggling Moton Elementary

Interim principal says teamwork will lift long-struggling Moton Elementary

BROOKSVILLE — Less than a month after taking over as interim principal at long-struggling Moton Elementary School, Brent Gaustad says teamwork by educators across the district has things looking up.Behavior has improved, he said, and innovative proce...
Published: 02/15/18
17 dead, 15 wounded, former student in custody after Broward school shooting

17 dead, 15 wounded, former student in custody after Broward school shooting

PARKLAND — An American nightmare unfolded Wednesday afternoon at a South Florida high school after police say an expelled teenager returned to campus and opened fire with an assault rifle, killing 17 and wounding 15 more in the worst school shooting ...
Published: 02/14/18
Teachers take tests too. And when they cheat, Hillsborough has a knack for catching them

Teachers take tests too. And when they cheat, Hillsborough has a knack for catching them

TAMPA — Claudette Wilson and Annella Fender are sisters from Jamaica who did everything together.They both taught at Dowdell Middle School — one English, the other reading. They played tennis on Saturdays. After their match, they would work on their ...
Published: 02/14/18