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. Plan your weekend Aug. 18-20: Elvis in concert, Jason Aldean, Monster Jam Triple Threat, Sing-Along Grease


    Plan your weekend

    The king

    Elvis: Live in Concert: This year marks the 40th anniversary of Elvis Presley's death, and Ruth Eckerd Hall will have a Graceland-produced Elvis concert on a movie screen, accompanied by a full live orchestra. Graceland calls it the closest audiences …

    Handout photos of Elvis: Live in Concert, a tour spectacle featuring a live orchestra backing the voice of Elvis Presley, projected onto a movie screen. The tour comes to Ruth Eckerd Hall on 8/18/17. Credit: Graceland.
  2. Woman convicted in murder of 18-year-old with cerebral palsy gets lighter term


    TAMPA — Linda Bonck, a 90-pound Chamberlain High School senior with cerebral palsy, lived near Tampa's Lowry Park. She struggled to walk and talk but was known for being friendly and trusting of strangers until she vanished one day in 1992.

    Georgia Miller, 39, was convicted for the 1992 murder of Linda Bonck, an 18-year-old Chamberlain High School student who had cerebral palsy. Originally sentenced to life in prison, Miller was resentenced Wednesday to 65 years, the result of U.S. and Florida Supreme Court decisions that found it unconstitutional to sentence juveniles to life. With gain time, Miller will be released from prison in the next six years. [Florida Department of Corrections]
  3. Boynton Beach woman arrested on DUI, child abuse charges


    A Boynton Beach woman was arrested Saturday and faces DUI and child abuse charges after she blew a .200 on a breath test with an unbuckled child in the backseat, according to the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office.

    Brandy Lerma, 31 of Boynton Beach, was arrested on DUI and child abuse charges on Saturday. [Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office]
  4. Editorial: Why can't Hillsborough commissioners move Confederate monument?


    The violence in Charlottesville, Va., crystallized for much of the nation the danger of refusing to address painful symbols of the past. But not so in Hillsborough County, where the County Commission on Wednesday reversed itself yet again and left open the possibility of leaving a Confederate monument outside the …

  5. Former WTSP employee sues station's parent companies for gender discrimination


    A former director at WTSP-Ch. 10 has sued the station's parent companies, claiming she was the victim of gender discrimination.