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  1. The Education Gradebook

More magnets on the way for Pasco schools

As Pasco County's first magnet school prepares for its debut, superintendent Kurt Browning wants to begin planning even more school choices for families.

Staff members have researched the topic for several months. But Browning doesn't want to rush too fast.

"I'm going to be intentional about what we do," said Browning, who intends to survey parents and community members before finalizing any plans.

For now, the superintendent said he's leaning toward strong magnet programs within schools, rather than trying to overhaul campuses to full magnets. He's also looking toward a regional approach, so students living in southwest Pasco, for instance, wouldn't have to travel to northeast Pasco for the curriculum that interests them.

"I don't want to put a fine arts program in the River Ridge feeder pattern and that's the only one we have," Browning said. "That's unrealistic."

He acknowledged that expanding choice requires a major financial commitment, in order to provide special offerings beyond the usual curriculum and have the transportation available to help students get there.

"I'm not going to set up schools to not succeed," he said.

Browning also stressed that schools already filled to their capacity or beyond would not be left out of the chance to add programs. The effort is as much about keeping students from leaving those full campuses, as well as attracting families to schools with seats available, he said.

"If we're going to compete, then we've got to provide what moms and dads are looking for," Browning said.

In addition to the new Sanders Memorial Elementary STEAM magnet, the district has in recent years added the Cambridge program to Pasco High and Pasco Middle, opened an aerospace academy at Sunlake High and established its blended-learning Infinity program at several schools. Other career academies and International Baccalaureate offerings also exist.

Browning said he is hoping to make recommendations for new programs to the board by October, for a fall 2016 implementation.

PRINCIPAL SHUFFLE: Former Woodland Elementary assistant principal Wendy Lane is headed back to the Zephyrhills school this fall.

She's taking over the top job there after the unexpected move of Kim Poe to the district office. Poe, Woodland's principal since 2007, asked to transfer to the new central office post overseeing teacher allocations and Success Plan reporting.

The switch left West Zephyrhills Elementary, which Lane ran since 2013, without a leader just days before students return.

Hopefuls had until Wednesday to apply for the position.

Contact Jeffrey S. Solochek at jsolochek@tampabay.com or (813) 909-4614. Follow @JeffSolochek.

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