Advertisement
  1. News
  2. /
  3. Gradebook

Latest east Pasco school rezoning gets subdued reaction from parents

The Seven Oaks subdivision would be redrawn into the Cypress Creek Middle-High feeder pattern.
Crews are building a new 1,500-student middle school on the Cypress Creek Middle-High campus in Wesley Chapel. The Pasco County School Board will redraw attendance zones to fill the buildings. [JEFFREY SOLOCHEK]
Published Oct. 8

What a difference a few years make.

A couple dozen east Pasco County parents, primarily from the Seven Oaks subdivision of Wesley Chapel, attended a rainy-day workshop Monday on proposed school boundary map changes that would shift hundreds of children into Cypress Creek middle and high schools. They currently attend John Long Middle and Wiregrass Ranch High.

Most of them sounded resigned to the fact that the rezoning was inevitable, and talked about how to make it manageable for their children.

“It’s hard on the kids,” said Carrie Bequette, whose family moved to the area two years ago and had hoped for some stability.

Helen Amendolaro said her biggest concern is the longer drive along two-lane roads to the Cypress Creek campus on Old Pasco Road.

“I know it’s a good school,” she said of Cypress Creek Middle-High, which will split into two distinct schools when new sixth- through eighth-grade buildings are completed in the fall. “The biggest issue is the drive.”

Nearly three years ago, Seven Oaks residents came out in droves to fight to keep their subdivision in the Wiregrass Ranch feeder pattern. Families in other sections of Wesley Chapel, including Meadow Pointe, battled equally hard to stop their neighborhoods from being rezoned.

Accusations flew as multiple maps were considered and reconsidered. Legal challenges were filed as district officials shifted their stance on Seven Oaks’ fate.

The community won a reprieve that time around, but with the clear understanding that it would top the list when the board opens Cypress Creek Middle.

RELATED: Pasco superintendent targets new east side middle school in four years, if impact fees approved

Nicole Achter said she attended almost every committee meeting, workshop and hearing about the 2016-17 rezoning, hoping to stop it from affecting her two children. This time around, with only one proposal on the table, she said her main effort will be on winning school choice to stay put.

“The schools here are going to be crowded forever,” Achter said. “Why not do it in phases and let them finish the school where they started?”

She raised concerns about how difficult it can be for a high school junior to maintain leadership roles, and to keep a strong connection with teachers and classmates, if involuntarily transferred just as he or she is preparing to apply for college.

Former board member Steve Luikart had proposed doing what Achter suggested the last time the board rezoned east Pasco communities. The idea didn’t go anywhere then, and it appeared to have little chance this time, as well.

District officials said they need to fill the new seats being built, rather than slowly moving students, especially if crowding were to continue at John Long and Wiregrass Ranch — the primary targets for reducing enrollment. Their plan would allow rising seniors to be grandfathered. Students in career academies that are not available elsewhere also will be given priority.

Others would have to apply for permission to stay in their current schools.

The School Board is to hold a public hearing on the proposal on Nov. 5, with a final vote scheduled for Nov. 19.

Find all the details about the proposal at http://www.pasco.k12.fl.us/planning/page/rezoning/.

Contact Jeffrey S. Solochek at jsolochek@tampabay.com.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. A Florida black bear (not this one) was found at a Marion County school and removed. CARLTON WARD JR  |  Carlton Ward Jr
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  2. Adjunct faculty at St. Petersburg College voted to unionize Tuesday, joining thousands of other adjuncts across Florida who are fighting for better working conditions and pay. [Times]
    The employees are the seventh group in Florida to join Service Employees International Union in recent yeas as it pushes for investment in the state’s higher education institutions.
  3. The University of South Florida ranked ahead of UCF, FIU and FAU in the U.S. News & World Report's Global University Rankings. [USF handout]
    The University of Florida finished 105th, while USF came in at 310. Harvard led the world.
  4. Workers begin construction in 2010 on what would become Winding Waters K-8. That was the last new public school built in Hernando County, which faces capacity strains as officials ask for impact fee increases to keep up with growth. HERNANDO TODAY PHOTO BY HAYLEY M  |  Hernando Today
    The district first would add classrooms at three existing schools, but could need four new schools by 2039.
  5. Rep. Bruce Antone, D-Orlando, says the Legislative Black Caucus will prioritize both public education and school choice during the 2020 Florida session. The caucus held a news conference on Oct. 22, 2019. The Florida Channel
    The caucus announced its 2020 goals for justice, housing and other key issues, as well, with members saying they will stick together to pursue them.
  6. Pre-season baseball practice at Wesley Chapel High School. Lawmakers want to ensure student-athletes remain safe in the Florida heat as they participate in high school sports. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    PreK-12 Innovation chairman Rep. Ralph Massullo expects legislation requiring some ‘simple things.’
  7. First-year Cox Elementary School teacher Kevin Knibbs, 33, of Dade City, answers questions about the components of time: hours, minutes, seconds, to his third-grade class on Monday, September 30, 2019, at the school in Date City. From left are students Angel Young, 8, Arlene Luna, 8, and Jahkia Gray, 8. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  8. First-year Cox Elementary School teacher Kevin Knibbs, 33, of Dade City, walks with students Angel Young, 8, left, and Kaivion Williams, 9, right, while en route to his third-grade class on Sept. 30 at the school in Date City. Knibbs decided to become an educator after working as a school custodian. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Kevin Knibbs never thought about working with students — until he started interacting with them.
  9. Former Pasco County Corrections Officer Wendy Miller, 57 runs towards gunfire with instructor Chris Squitieri during active shooter drills taught by Pasco County Sheriff's Office at Charles S. Rushe Middle School in Land O' Lakes. These drills are put are a larger training program for the Guardian program that will staff elementary schools with trained armed guards.  LUIS SANTANA   |   Times "LUIS SANTANA  |  TIMES"  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The change is a reversal of a previous move by the department, which specifically excluded armed teachers from its policy.
  10. Bayonet Point Middle School teacher Cynthia Thompson wants to become Pasco County schools superintendent. Courtesy of Cynthia Thompson
    Cynthia Thompson is a graduation enhancement instructor at Bayonet Point Middle School.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement