1. Pasco

Pasco school choice options begin to shape up

Plans to offer Pasco County families more public school options are beginning to shape up, even before superintendent Kurt Browning pulls together his choice advisory committee.

The district is moving ahead with plans to rebuild Sanders Elementary School in Land O'Lakes as a K-5 STEM magnet, assistant superintendent Ray Gadd told the Gradebook on Thursday. The school, which closed in 2010, is targeted to ease crowding at nearby Connerton and Oakstead elementary schools when it reopens, perhaps as early as 2015.

It would pull about 300 students from those two schools, Gadd said, and then have the rest of its seats available for families that apply. Design work is already under way for Sanders. A curriculum team is also evaluating whether to create similar programs for Shady Hills and Quail Hollow elementary schools when they reopen after renovations, which are currently ongoing.

Other ideas also are in the works. Those include a discussion of whether to convert the Marchman Technical Education Center into a full high school with a focus on technical training programs, and consideration of opening a new middle-high school in Wesley Chapel to help ease crowding at Long Middle and Wiregrass Ranch High.

In addition, Browning and a team of east Pasco educators spent much of Thursday visiting schools in east Florida that employ the Cambridge international diploma curriculum.

Browning is still selecting members of a committee to offer ideas for magnets and other choices that the district can implement. He has said he intends to make a recommendation to the School Board by January, so there's plenty of time to put programs in place for the 2014-15 school year.