If you want to know how fast the State Road 54 section of central Pasco County is growing, look no farther than Odessa Elementary School.
It faces the same scenario that Wesley Chapel Elementary encountered a decade ago. The students keep pouring in, filling the classrooms beyond capacity no matter how many get reassigned as new campuses open.
In Pasco’s latest student count, Odessa reported having 1,126 children in prekindergarten through fifth grade. It’s built to hold 762. It was projected to have 991 students this year.
To put that into perspective, Odessa’s kindergarten class of 208 children is only slightly smaller than Lacoochee Elementary School’s entire K-5 population of 266.
Its student body is larger than that at 10 of Pasco’s 16 middle schools. It’s within 100 students of three high schools.
The school is booming even after the district rezoned the homes of about 300 students out of Odessa and into newly opened Bexley Elementary.
Principal Teresa Love, who has run the school since it opened, says the overcrowding has not been a major cause for concern.
“We are a solid team that pulls together as a family does, and we are working through the challenges,” Love said via email. “We will get relief when Starkey Ranch K-8 opens.”
That’s in 2021.
Other Pasco schools with the largest student populations in their levels are Seven Springs Middle at 1,599, with John Long Middle right behind at 1,597, and Wiregrass Ranch High at 2,288, with Mitchell High at 2,110.
The School Board is scheduled to consider a rezoning on Nov. 19 that would ease the crunch at John Long Middle and Wiregrass Ranch High. Plans for the other schools are further off.