Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

School crowding remains a problem in Pasco

WESLEY CHAPEL — Crowding is nothing new for Wesley Chapel Elementary School.

The school, built for just 618 students, has seen its enrollment near 1,500 several times.

The Pasco County district opened two new elementary schools last August to move more than 500 children away and bring Wesley Chapel down to more manageable numbers. That was but the most recent effort to help.

Still, the kids just keep coming.

The latest projections by district planners show that just one year after Double Branch and New River elementary schools pulled Wesley Chapel's average daily attendance down closer to 1,000 students, the school will return to 200 percent capacity by the first day of classes. And it's not just that school — it's the area.

Sand Pine Elementary in the Meadow Pointe subdivision, which also got some enrollment relief with the opening of New River, is headed back past 150 percent of its capacity again. Nearby Long Middle also is seeing its enrollment projections rise to unprecedented levels, while Weightman Middle is expected to see its population rise at a slower pace.

"Be reminded, we are one of the few counties in the state that continues to grow in students," student services director Lizette Alexander observed.

And much of that growth is concentrated in the State Road 54 corridor from Trinity in the west to Wesley Chapel in the east.

Sanders and Oakstead elementary schools in Land O'Lakes also are expecting to see their enrollment skyrocket — 2-year-old Oakstead is projected to have nearly 300 more children attend, pushing it to about 170 percent of capacity.

"Certainly, we have our hot spots that we are looking to relieve," planning director Chris Williams said.

And over time, he added, the district has plans to ease crowding in those areas.

A new elementary school in the Watergrass subdivision, for instance, is aimed at helping out Wesley Chapel Elementary yet again next fall. The district has an elementary site selected in the Bexley Ranch subdivision off State Road 54 to ease the strain on Oakstead, with another site in negotiations in Odessa.

There's a new elementary school planned to open in 2009 in the Connerton subdivision, which should ease crowding for Sanders. And high schools are in the planning stages to deal with capacity issues at Ridgewood, Mitchell and Zephyrhills high schools.

Williams is quick to point out that Pasco's growth — expected to be just over 1,300 students as the state counts them for funding — has slowed significantly from the nearly 3,500 new students that came in about four years ago.

And that, he said, gives the district a generally positive outlook in its battle against crowding.

Pasco will have 21 elementary schools closed to choice transfers this coming year, down from 26. Eight middle schools will accept choice transfers, up from seven, as will four high schools, up from two.

The district allows children to attend schools other than the ones that they're assigned to if the school's enrollment is below 105 percent capacity. Last year, more than 8,000 students used school choice. This year, more seats are available.

"The overall perspective is we're chipping away at it and making progress," Williams said.

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

School crowding remains a problem in Pasco 07/01/08 [Last modified: Friday, July 4, 2008 1:43pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Richard Corcoran has a new committee to help him become governor


    Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran has opened a new political committee, Watchdog PAC, that may or may not bankroll his campaign for governor in 2018. The Land O'Lakes Republica

    CBO analysis: 23 million would lose health coverage under House-passed bill


    WASHINGTON — The Republican health care bill that passed the House earlier this month would nearly double the number of Americans without health insurance over the next decade, according to a new analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

    Demonstrators protests the passage of a House Republican health care bill, outside the the Capitol in Washington, on May 4. The House took the unusual step of voting on the American Health Care Act before the Congressional Budget Office could assess it. That analysis was released Thursday and it showed the bill would cause 23 million fewer people to have health insurance by 2026. Many additional consumers would see skimpier health coverage and higher deductibles, the budget office projected.
  2. Florida Specialty Insurance acquires Pinellas Park's Mount Beacon Insurance


    Tens of thousands of homeowners who were pushed out of Citizens Property Insurance for a private carrier since 2014 are finding themselves changing insurance companies yet again.

  3. Pope Francis presents Trump with a 'politically loaded gift': His encyclical on climate change

    Global Warming

    VATICAN CITY — On Wednesday, Pope Francis appeared to make his point with a gift.

    Ivanka Trump, first lady Melania Trump and President Donald Trump meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican, Wednesday.  [Evan Vucci/Pool via The New York Times]
  4. Tampa police say 41-year-old man shot and killed by ex-boss, investigation ongoing


    TAMPA — A 41-year-old man was shot and killed by his former boss Wednesday morning outside the West Tampa auto body shop where they once worked together, according to Tampa police.