Pasco County parents, superintendent at odds over school boundaries

Last Updated: Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Students are being moved to new schools next year in Pasco County. The debate over new boundaries has been going on for months.

Some parents are especially upset with the superintendent after a committee voted for a boundary and he shot it down. That's something that will likely be a topic of frustration at a public hearing being held Tuesday night.

Parents in Wesley Chapel are fired up after a boundary committee worked for months, ultimately deciding on a map called Option 20 to ease overcrowding in the east side schools. But when it hit Superintendent Kurt Browning’s desk, he decided to go with another option known as Option 13.

"If he is to say he is going to do something and he's publicly come out and said he was going to do something such as trusting the committee he selected, then he is to stand behind the committee," said parent Christina Helm.

Browning said he didn't intend to change the committee recommendation but after seeing it he says he realized he needed to use his authority to make sure what goes to the board is best for the schools.

"One of the things that caused me some concern was the number of times that a student in their secondary career, in the middle and high school, would be moved under map 20," Browning said.

But many parents just don't agree. "Option 13 breaks up communities, breaks up the feeder patterns, it doesn’t give balance to socioeconomic," said parent Alani Atalugama.

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Some parents told us they believe Browning is favoring the Seven Oaks Community. "Seven Oaks has been told, they've been kind of put on notice that they weren't touched this year under my recommendation. But when we build the new middle school they will be rezoned to Cypress Creek Middle and Cypress Creek High School,” said Browning.

However that will only happen if the county raises the impact fees that have been set at $4,800 for the past nine years.

"He threw away a decision and the impression I got from that email was that 'I'm [Browning] favoring one community over the rest of Wesley Chapel,'" said Atalugama.

Browning's decision holds weight but ultimately it will be up to the school board on what boundaries are set in January.

The Pasco County School board is holding its first of two public meetings on the boundaries starting Tuesday. The meeting starts at 6 p.m.

The next meeting and final vote will be on Jan. 17.