PASCO COUNTY, Fla. - Two sisters are both in for a big change next school year.
“It feels really crazy. I don’t like it at all,” said 8th grader Lennon Tobey.
Lennon is headed to high school, but because of rezoning passed Tuesday night, she’s not going to nearby Mitchell high. It’s just three miles away. Instead, she and her entire Longleaf neighborhood are now zoned for River Ridge high school about 7 miles away.
“River Ridge is a great school, but we’ve got 10,000 acres of forest and two rivers literally that the kids will have to cross to get there,” said father Bret Tobey.
As for Campbell, she’s in her first year of middle school. But and now she’ll have to switch schools again.
“It will be hard transitioning and meeting new friends. I’ve already made so many new friends at Seven Springs. I don’t really want to leave them,” she said.
The Pasco school district said the changes are needed because of overcrowding.
“We definitely know that rezoning is a very difficult process, it’s something we’ve been through before and many other counties have as well,” said assistant superintendent Betsy Kuhn.
But many parents have complained the process was flawed and won’t even fix the problems.
“It’s been painful to watch and painful to watch the kids get dragged through,” said Tobey.
Seniors to be won’t have to move. They are grandfathered into their existing schools.
For everyone else, applying for school choice might be the only hope to stay. You can apply for school choice starting February 1st, for a variety of reasons.
“We would encourage anyone who’s interested to apply and the district will try to prioritize as much as we can,” said Kuhn.
Exceptions will be made. For example, students in Mitchell’s exceptional student education program won’t be rezoned because that program doesn’t exist anywhere else.
The district is already putting out a plan to help with the transition. It includes hosting open houses, having students write welcome letters to their new classmates. And even giving out t-shirts to encourage school spirit.