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Pasco County school district prepares for another east-side rezoning

Students at several schools could be reassigned after Cypress Creek Middle is complete.
The Pasco County school district plans to  build a new middle school next to Cypress Creek High, above, which has served as both a middle and high school since opening in 2017. Jeffrey S. Solochek | Times
The Pasco County school district plans to build a new middle school next to Cypress Creek High, above, which has served as both a middle and high school since opening in 2017. Jeffrey S. Solochek | Times
Published Jun. 3, 2019

Hundreds of students throughout eastern Pasco County could find themselves attending different schools in 2020, as the School Board redraws attendance boundaries to make room for a new Cypress Creek Middle School.

The school district intends to begin the process officially on Tuesday, by informing the School Board of its plan to bring a proposal forward for a November vote.

They’re hoping the effort goes more smoothly than the last time the district revised its east-side maps to send children to Cypress Creek Middle-High. That time, families from different communities — primarily sections of giant Meadow Pointe and Seven Oaks — battled over whose children deserved to stay at their current schools and whose would have to travel to the new one.

One group officially challenged the board’s decision, but a state administrative hearing judge did not support their arguments.

This time out, the families from Seven Oaks, who did not have to change campuses in 2017, already have been put on notice that their neighborhoods are going to be among the first considered for rezoning as the Cypress Creek campus grows. Some of its civic leaders have indicated they won’t fight any plan to reassign them.

More than just those high profile neighborhoods will get reviewed during the upcoming rezoning, though.

According to the district’s planning department website, communities assigned to Quail Hollow and San Antonio elementary schools, Cypress Creek and Dr. John Long middle schools, and Cypress Creek, Wesley Chapel, Wiregrass Ranch and Zephyrhills high schools all could see some changes as a result of the effort to ease crowding by adding seats at the Old Pasco Road school.

Currently, about 940 middle schoolers and 1,100 high schoolers attend Cypress Creek Middle-High. But the school site only houses a 2,000-seat high school.

Once the new $45 million middle school opens, it will open seats at the high school as well as provide more space for sixth, seventh and eighth graders. Elementary schools could be affected, too, if the district adjusts feeder patterns, as well.

Parents whose neighborhoods might be affected should have received notification Thursday evening.

The process is expected to begin with address verification, a new step officials adopted after angry parents demanded to know whether the district planned to force children to move while others who were attending using false information were permitted to remain. The last time the district ran a targeted verification, officials said they found a handful of violators but not enough to forestall a rezoning.

The plan next calls for map proposals and a public input form to be available online by Oct. 7, when a parent meeting and public workshop on the rezoning would be held at Wiregrass Ranch High School, which at 141 percent of capacity remains a key target to have its zone reduced.

The board is scheduled to have a public hearing on the superintendent’s recommendation on Nov. 5, with a final vote on Nov. 19.