Application season open for Pasco County school choice

The district has combined all its choice applications into one, with plans to send out acceptance letters earlier than in the past.
Published December 4

Middle and high school families seeking to change their children's school assignments for the 2019-20 academic year have another week to apply for their preferred campus.

The district has opened all options, including open enrollment, magnet schools and specialty programs, for online applications through Dec. 14.

In past years, the selections were made available in separate choice windows. This time, the district decided to combine them all, then send out all decisions in February — months earlier than before.

Parents would then have two weeks to accept or decline an offer.

Several schools are frozen to choice, because their enrollment is projected to exceed 90 percent. That's the level at which the School Board set in policy to represent a school being full, to ensure space for continued growth without requiring more portable classrooms.

Those listed as available are Chasco, Crews Lake, Gulf, Hudson and Paul R. Smith middle schools, and Anclote, Hudson, River Ridge and Krinn Technical high schools.

Elementary school choice is scheduled for Jan. 8 through Jan. 18.

To apply, go to www.pasco.k12.fl.us/ed_choice.

BAD TIMING?: Hoping to attract more new students, Wendell Krinn Technical High School worked for several months to set up a formal ribbon cutting that West Pasco Chamber of Commerce officials could attend.

The idea was to have Chamber leaders see what's going on in the school, and then tout it during the school-choice application period.

Thing is, the school and chamber could find just one date that worked for each — and it turned out to be a School Board meeting day.

Principal Chris Dunning got an earful when he sent out invitations to the Dec. 4 event, for scheduling it when board members and many district officials could not attend because of their full agenda. Items on tap included a workshop to discuss closing some west-side elementary schools.

Deputy superintendent Ray Gadd cautioned Dunning via email that his decision could upset Board members.

"Ribbon cuttings are considered very important by Board members, but so are Board meetings," Gadd wrote. "The optics are not very good when every Board member is unable to attend."

Board chairwoman Alison Crumbley, for one, requested a change so she could make it.

Dunning sent back a note apologizing, but he did not alter the plans.

"I'm certainly happy to have everyone out at another time or to schedule individual tours," he wrote. "I'm extremely proud of our school and what is available to our students, and happy to show it off anytime."

Krinn lost about 100 enrolled students in the first week of classes because of the way it offered bus rides to and from campus. Officials have been looking for ways to fill the school.

LGBTQ SUPPORT: Even as conservative groups continued to demand information about how Pasco schools treat transgender students, a number of others began to show their backing for the students and the staff who help them.

People from around the state sent superintendent Kurt Browning and School Board members emails supporting the work done by district LGBTQ liaison psychologist Jackie Jackson-Dean, who has been vilified in several publications taking issue with her efforts.

"I look forward to hearing more support from the Pasco School Board and superintendent for these type programs and for people like Jackie Jackson-Dean, who have only one agenda. That is, to help those in need by performing the jobs they are paid for," wrote Jack Crocetto, Pasco LGBTA Democratic Caucus president. "We cannot deny, nor can we turn our backs on the LGBTQ youth, for to do so would be the biggest mistake of all."

Pasco-Hernando State College professor emeritus Richard Downing wrote that he admired Jackson-Dean for her commitment to all students.

"It's sad that taking a stand for a transgender — or any minority — student has to be seen as courageous when it should just be part of the job," he wrote.

Sarah Larsen, who identified herself as a Christian, wrote that she considered the blitz against Jackson-Dean's work to be antithetical to Christian teachings of love and acceptance.

"I encourage you to reject this hate and ... embrace the positive growth of all students, regardless of their background or sexual orientation," Larsen wrote.

District officials have not indicated any changes to their approach or rules regarding transgender students.

Contact Jeffrey S. Solochek at [email protected] Follow @jeffsolochek.

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