Pasco eyes tech school on county's east side

By Sarah Blazonis, Reporter
Last Updated: Friday, December 29, 2017, 5:16 PM EST

With the new year expected to see the opening of Wendell Krinn Technical High School in New Port Richey, Pasco County Schools officials say they'd eventually like to open a tech school on the east side of the county as well.

  • District plans to open new school in west Pasco in 2018
  • Possible east Pasco school location on property the district owns in Dade City
  • In the meantime, enrollment at Wendell Krinn open to entire county

"My message to those folks in that area is hold on, hang tight, be patient," said Superintendent Kurt Browning.

The district plans to open the new school in west Pasco in August. Course offerings will include air conditioning, refrigeration, and heating technology, automotive maintenance and light repair, and bio med.

"It's another choice for the families that we serve, and it's something we've looked forward to for a long time," said Allen Altman, the school board member who represents the east side of the county.

Altman says he's pushed for more technical education opportunities in Pasco schools for years. While he'd like to see a school like Wendell Krinn in the area he represents, he thinks the new school can only help that effort.

"I am convinced now that with the help of my fellow board members, our superintendent, legislative leaders, on top of the overwhelming show of support that we've had from employers that it will become a reality in east Pasco County," he said.

Ridgewood High is being converted into the tech school after this academic year. Browning says it was chosen partly because of how close it is to Marchman Technical College and its resources, and partly because Ridgewood is a low-performing school.

A video posted by the district to its Facebook page promoting the school got overwhelmingly positive comments, but a number of people also said they felt like east Pasco was left behind.

"We really are trying to make it so that regardless of where you live in Pasco County, as a student, you will have access to high-quality career and technical education programs," Browning said.

Browning said a possible location for an east Pasco tech school is on property the district owns on Handcart Road in the Dade City area. He estimates the cost to be around $50 million.

"The dollars that we have, whether it's the impact fees or the Penny for Pasco or PECO money, state capital money that we get, that's going to just deal with new student growth," said Browning. He says the district sees anywhere from 1,300-1,600 new students enroll each year.

In the meantime, enrollment at Wendell Krinn will be open to the entire county.