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Pasco’s oldest charter school seeks 33 percent enrollment boost

Dayspring Academy would have 1,200 students for 2020-21.
The Regency Park Civic Association in Port Richey no longer could afford to keep up its civic center building and grounds. It donated the property to Dayspring Academy charter school, which plans to create a high school there. [Jeffrey S. Solochek | TImes] [JEFFREY S. SOLOCHEK]

Dayspring Academy, Pasco County’s first charter school, has informed the school district of its plans to increase its student body from 900 students to 1,200 next fall.

The 33 percent enrollment growth would come as the arts-themed school expands its academic offerings to include a pre-collegiate high school in 2020 and a second elementary school in 2021.

It would be able to take these steps because two community organizations donated property to Dayspring for the purpose of adding classrooms. Since Dayspring is considered “high performing” by the state, its request is a mere formality: The School Board must approve it if the space is available.

In his letter to the district, charter board chairman Eric Seltzer noted that Dayspring was among the top 5 charter schools in Florida’s accountability system. He also mentioned that the school received more than 3,000 applications for limited seats last year.

The community contributed the two new sites “as a result of the need for high quality education options in west Pasco,” Seltzer wrote.

That’s a not so veiled dig at the school district’s off-again, on-again attempts to kick start educational improvements in the area along the U.S. 19 corridor, where outcomes on state measures have been middling or worse over several years. The School Board recently rejected the administration’s plan to shutter some schools in the region and use the funds to amplify the opportunities at other campuses.

The result has been for the district to extend its planning of programmatic changes, with a phased in implementation beginning next year.

Dayspring founders Suzanne and John Legg have been critical of the district’s efforts, suggesting improvements for the schools serving west Pasco’s poorest neighborhoods should come more quickly and more aggressively.

Related: <b>RELATED: </b> Dayspring charter school wants to improve education in west Pasco. ‘We’re not waiting.’

So after years of slow expansion, Dayspring has decided to press ahead with its own plans. District officials, meanwhile, continue to move forward with their own initiatives to add advanced and magnet programs throughout the region.