Pasco County residents want to see safer schools and more opportunities offered to students who aren't necessarily college bound.
Those are two key takeaways from a two-week community survey in which nearly 3,700 residents submitted more than 28,000 comments on how to improve the Pasco County school district.
Hoping to generate new ideas, the administration asked two open-ended questions to kick off the conversation they are calling "ThoughtExchange."
They asked for ways to improve, and for suggestions of new programs.
"ThoughtExchange is our way of getting our community to share their ideas with each other, and for the most popular ideas to filter to the top through the rating function," superintendent Kurt Browning wrote in the introduction to the survey result materials.
Many of the results adhered closely to discussions already taking place in the county or state. For instance:
– Floridians began an in-depth conversation about school safety soon after the February school shooting in Broward County. The Pasco survey indicated a high concern that some schools are "WIDE open and too easy to access."
– State lawmakers inched closer to creating a financial literacy graduation requirement, to help teens better understand basic concepts such as keeping a budget. The Pasco survey revealed strong interest in courses for "real life," with many respondents agreeing that "these things start at home, but reinforcement helps."
– The Pasco School Board authorized a new technical high school for the west side of the county, to open in August. Its survey showed support for more career education, so "students who don't go to college can still be successful in life."
In the materials, the district notes it plans to explore improvements in these and other areas, including more social and emotional supports for students, and greater parental involvement.
The School Board is scheduled to discuss the ThoughtExchange at a workshop Tuesday.