Several public schools in Pasco County are filled to capacity - and that means school boundaries must be redrawn to ease overcrowding.
At issue are two separate rezoning matters taking place at the same time in Pasco County: one in the Trinity area and one in Wesley Chapel. Jeffrey Solochek, an education reporter for the Tampa Bay Times, says rezoning committees have made their recommendations.
“The expectation is that the school board will vote on both recommendations for their final vote,” he said. “They have two public hearings before the final vote on January 17. That gives the people who want to apply for school choice plenty of time to prepare before the February 1 application opening.”
The overcrowding issue in Pasco County means hundreds of students will have to change schools.
“What you have is a finite number of seats in each school,” said Solochek. “You have neighborhoods that sit on the outskirts versus neighborhoods that aren't and when somebody makes a recommendation to move one, it winds up with somebody else being unhappy. "
For the past several years, Florida has been one of the fastest growing states in the nation. As a result, Solochek says the issue of school overcrowding isn't going away anytime soon.
“This is a school district that is growing after a short period of basically flat growth,” he said. "But it has always been one of the faster growing school districts in Florida and it continues on that path."
The public discussion over changing school boundaries has been going on for several months and at times, debate has been heated.
“It really gets people riled up,” said Solochek. “I have never seen a group of parents sit through a four hour rezoning committee and putting it up on Facebook Live so that people can watch it as it happens. These people are really concerned about where their children are going to school and that has created some bad blood. At one of the parent meetings there were a lot of people who in their zeal to remain in the school, trashed some of the other schools. It was really unfortunate. Hopefully at the end of the day it will be resolved and things will work out in the end.”