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Time to reassess middle school offerings, Pasco superintendent says

Jeffrey S. Solochek, Times Staff Writer

Thursday, October 2, 2014 1:53pm

Discussions about Pasco County's first magnet elementary school, opening next fall, have prompted some soul searching about the quality of the district's middle schools.

Parents interested in sending their children to the Sanders Elementary STEAM magnet have pointedly asked officials how their kids will continue their new-look education after fifth grade. The closest middle schools, Pine View and Rushe, do not have any specialty programs.

But maybe they should, superintendent Kurt Browning said.

Sending students back to the old style of learning may not best suit their needs after attending a high-tech, hands-on school for up to six years, Browning suggested. So he and his staff are looking into ideas such as International Baccalaureate for the 6-8 campuses the kids will move into.

That discussion morphed into a larger one about how all the middle schools operate. Browning noted that many parents love their children's elementary schools, and want to have their kids in the public high schools.

When it comes to those middle grades, though, he said, several are looking at charters and other options.

"We have done a lot of focus on elementary schools and a lot of focus with high schools. We have had discussions with that is going to happen with middle schools, but no one has pulled the trigger," he said. "The whole Sanders discussion has forced our hands."