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Kids in Wiregrass Ranch High on choice shouldn’t stay while others are rezoned out, parents argue

Officials say resetting choice would affect a tiny number of students.

A new concern has emerged among Wesley Chapel parents whose children could soon be reassigned out of Pasco County’s popular but crowded Wiregrass Ranch High School.

Why, they want to know, will students accepted into the school through choice programs be allowed to remain while families living in the current attendance zone will be forced into a different school?

“As I understand that our current overcrowding of schools does need some remedy, I’m asking for consideration to reset choice so that ALL students have an opportunity to stay at their current school,” parent Lisa Henckel wrote to the superintendent and board.

She was not alone. And fairness was the chief issue for the Seven Oaks subdivision residents who face being sent to Cypress Creek Middle-High.

“Explain to me how that works!” parent Angela Omoike said in her email to officials. “I chose to move somewhere to have my children go to the school of my choice, and someone who wants to live elsewhere can take my child’s spot at school....?”

Superintendent Kurt Browning said Monday that requiring everyone to reapply for spots at the school after the rezoning has gained little attention in his office because the numbers are “so negligible” as to make almost no substantial difference to the campus crowding.

Of the approximately 120 students attending Wiregrass Ranch on choice, he said, about half are current seniors who will not return next year. Of the remaining students, he continued, more than half attend on what he called “administrative placements” — things such as contract-permitted transfers of employee children, or assignments to comply with court orders.

At the end of the day, he said, slightly more than a dozen students would remain in the mix.

“It just didn’t justify resetting school choices because it didn’t get you anything,” Browning said, noting the board did not reset choice when it rezoned Mitchell High School, either.

Still, Browning said, his staff continues to examine this and other ideas that parents have brought forward as they prepare for the final action on the rezoning.

One of those concepts is for a more gradual phasing in of the new boundary maps. Several parents have asked that children get to complete the highest grade level at their current school, with the reassignments to take place afterward.

The district leadership team is “having some discussions about it,” Browning said, and might adjust its recommendation partially. No decision has been reached, he stressed.

Parents will have the chance to voice their views directly to the board at 6 p.m. Tuesday. The board is scheduled to vote on the map two weeks later.

Related: <b>RELATED: </b> Pasco parent concerns rise as plan advances to send their children to different schools