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Hundreds of Wesley Chapel students could be reassigned to new schools in 2020

The Seven Oaks subdivision is the primary target for rezoning.
The Pasco County school district would rezone the Seven Oaks subdivision from the Wiregrass Ranch High feeder pattern to the Cypress Creek High feeder pattern, beginning in the 2020-21 school year. [Pasco County school district]
Published Sep. 20

As long anticipated, the Seven Oaks subdivision of Wesley Chapel has been recommended to fill the seats at Cypress Creek Middle-High School in fall 2020, after the opening of several new middle school buildings on the campus.

The approximately 600 middle and high school-aged children living in the community bound by Interstate 75, Bruce B. Downs Boulevard and State Road 56 would be reassigned out of John Long Middle and Wiregrass Ranch High. Seven Oaks avoided rezoning in two other boundary shifts aimed at easing crowding at Wiregrass Ranch, to the consternation of other families that were forced to move.

District officials made clear almost two years ago that once the new Cypress Creek facilities come on line, the neighborhood was unlikely to escape change again.

RELATED: Plans for new Cypress Creek Middle School placed on fast track

District planning director Chris Williams, whose staff created the proposed map, said his team looked into rezoning other communities into Cypress Creek as well. Aside from a tiny area to the north of the school, which would move about 20 children out of Pasco Middle and Pasco High, none achieved the goal of relieving crowding at their original school without overfilling Cypress Creek, Williams said.

“The numbers at Cypress Creek begin to get pretty high, so we decided to just do Seven Oaks,” he explained.

The district will take feedback from residents on the proposal, and consider any recommendations leading to the School Board’s scheduled vote on Nov. 19. Up to that time, the administration could consider revisions to the current plan.

The district began receiving comments almost immediately after releasing its maps on Friday morning. At least a couple of people complained about the potentially negative impact, saying they would not have bought homes in Seven Oaks had they known they would not be assigned to John Long Middle and Wiregrass Ranch High.

If approved, the rezoning would fill Cypress Creek Middle-High to about 90 percent of capacity.

RELATED: Pasco schools adding hundreds of seats to cope with growth

John Long Middle appears on track to dip below 100 percent of capacity for the first time in years. But Wiregrass Ranch High, which not too long ago had a 10-day schedule to handle its student population, does not seem likely to have that same result, Williams said.

“Even if we pull 400 students out of Wiregrass Ranch, they’re still going to be close to 2,000 students, and that’s still overcrowded and it’s still growing,” he said.

The department’s spreadsheet shows the enrollment projection at closer to 1,600 students, but Williams said that is based on last year’s numbers (which are lower than this year’s) and does not take into account the expected grandfathering of seniors so they can graduate from Wiregrass Ranch.

The board also will consider another couple of smaller rezoning proposals.

One would take about 140 students who currently go to Wesley Chapel High, and send them to Zephyrhills High. The children attend Chester Taylor Elementary and Stewart Middle in Zephyrhills, but were assigned to Wesley Chapel more than a decade ago when Zephyrhills was well overcrowded and had no space.

Zephyrhills is added new classrooms now, while Wesley Chapel faces crowding as new developments come into existence.

Another rezoning would reassign a currently undeveloped area of the “Project Arthur” region before any students live there.

See all the proposals here.

The district plans to hold a public workshop at 5 p.m. Oct. 7 at Wiregrass Ranch High. The School Board would have a public hearing on Nov. 5, with a vote slated for Nov. 19.

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