Pasco Co. parents fight school re-zoning plans, state case to keep kids closer to home

District to decide on final plan Thursday

NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. -

Parents in Pasco County say they are panicked over a possible plan to redraw school boundaries and bus their kids across a portion of the county. 

Dozens of those parents stated their case inside a packed high school theater, demanding that school officials delay the re-zoning plans. 

"We can see the lights when football is on," said parent Paul Hayes. 

Hayes and his family live less than one mile from Mitchell High School in New Port Richey. 

That short distance was the biggest selling point for them when moving from Pinellas county.  One re-zoning plan being considered by the school district would send his children a few miles away to Gulf High School. 

"We put our kids first," said Hayes.  "That was the main reason we picked this neighborhood."

Hayes joined hundreds of other Pasco county parents to sound off Monday night, claiming the district has left them in the dark about their plan to fix school overcrowding. 

"None of the neighborhoods were given this information until August and up until that point the school board continued to deny that there was any rezoning taking place," said parent Krista Dreckmann. 

A spokesperson for Pasco County Schools points to J.W. Mitchell High's student population, currently operating at 130% capacity right now. 

"This is a very divisive issue, we have neighbors against neighbors, it's very tough for everybody all around," said Linda Cobbe with Pasco County Schools. 

Five plans are currently being considered that could reroute hundreds of students out of their neighborhood schools.  For more information on the district's plans, click here: http://www.pasco.k12.fl.us/planning/rezoning/

T-shirts and handmade signs were present in the crowd, demanding school officials delay their plans. 

At the heart of it all, one of the most receptive speakers was a sophomore from Mitchell High School, who said she was speaking out because she knows just how much is at stake. 

"Transferring students halfway through their educational career is stressful, frustrating and would send anxiety levels through the roof," said Jessica Hory. 

Re-zoning committee members will meet Thursday morning to narrow down the existing five plans to just one.  That will ultimately be decided by the school board. 

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