DADE CITY, Fla. — Parents in a rural Dade City area said they were in shock after learning their child’s elementary school may be closing down.
- Lacoochee Elementary enrollment has declined for years
- Enrollment currently at 280 students
- Plan would rezone students to Rodney B. Cox Elementary
Pasco County Schools is considering shutting down Lacoochee Elementary School due to low enrollment numbers.
Parent Savanna Harris couldn’t believe the phone call she got from Lacoochee Elementary on Tuesday.
"I was shocked,” Harris said.
It was a robo-call informing parents of the district's consideration of the plan. As the head of the school's PTO, she was devastated.
"That school holds the community together," Harris said. "I’m scared what closing it would do to the community and the students."
Nothing to do with performance
Superintendent Kurt Browning recommended the closure to the school board. He said it has nothing to do with school performance, but more to do with declining enrollment and keeping teaching in a remote part of the county.
"The reason is it’s difficult to get teachers to go to Lacoochee, and we have great teachers there, but anytime we have vacancies, when they find out Lacoochee is so far, in a very remote portion of the district, it is tough to get teachers to go that far,” Browning said.
Enrollment has been declining at Lacoochee for years. Currently, there are 280 students there.
Under the plan, students would be rezoned to Rodney B. Cox Elementary, about seven miles south, in Dade City. Bus transportation would be made available.
"Bottom line is, I want the very best for those kids in Lacoochee. I can’t provide that to them under the current scenario,” Browning said.
Parents plan to fight change
The school board still needs to approve the plan.
In the meantime, Harris says she and other parents plan to do what they can to change the minds of school leaders.
"I don’t know how uprooting everything they know to be true and safe and consistent could be beneficial in any way,” Harris said.
The school board is holding a workshop on this issue on November 6, with a final decision coming in December.
If the district chooses to go forward with the plan, the change would take place next school year.