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Carrollwood K-8 Initiative gains traction, parents continue to push for new middle school option

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Posted at 7:21 AM, Sep 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-22 07:59:38-04

CARROLLWOOD, Fla.  — Some parents in Hillsborough County are pushing for their local elementary school to be turned into a K-8 school, and the initiative is gaining traction.

“It is something that is incredibly needed,” said Krista Mills, Carrollwood K-8 Initiative Committee Chair.

“It is just a grassroots community campaign,” said K-8 Initiative Committee member, Raquel Pullaro.

It was started by parents.

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“Out of a desperate need of a middle school option, a valid middle school option,” said Danielle Eichmann, another K-8 Initiative Committee member.

“Currently our zoned middle school isn’t an option for our kids,” said Pullaro.

The school kids at Carrollwood Elementary are zoned for is Adams Middle.

According to state documents, it’s a “D” graded school. The Hillsborough County School District shows Adams Middle only has 45% enrollment.

Instead of sending their kids to Adams Middle, many families choose to instead put their kids in private schools or charter schools to avoid Adams.

“That’s what we’re kind of being forced into. We want to stay in the school district and in the public school system,” said Pullaro.

“My personal family has three daughters, and the cost of a private school is just not even in the cards,” said Mills.

“We’re finding that once the students leave, they’re leaving in not fifth grade. They’re leaving in third grade and in fourth grade. Earlier and earlier to accept these charter schools and K-8 school options for them,” said Pullaro.

“It’s unfortunate that currently, after fifth grade, there’s such a breaking point. There’s such a lapse when the kids scatter. Currently, there isn’t a place where they stay together and keep that continuity until high school,” said Mills.

“I have a first grader and a third grader, and I would love to see them continue in the district. And right now, I don’t think that’s an option for my family,” said Eichmann.

These parents are proposing to the district that Carrollwood Elementary be turned into a K-8 school.

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“Middle school is like the looming question. We move into this neighborhood what are we going to do for middle school?” asked Pullaro.

The group is working to see changes as soon as next school year, pushing for the addition of sixth grade right away.

“We’re here for the long haul. This is a longevity for our family,” said Pullaro.

“I think it’s a great thing for our community. I think it’s a great thing for the district because so many children right now are leaving,” said Eichmann.

Some students are on board with this plan too.

“It’s always felt kind of like home having my brother here since kindergarten like I really know this school and going to a different school would be a little different,” said Carrollwood Elementary fifth grader Owen Pullaro.

ABC Action News reached out to the Hillsborough County School District about this effort, and a representative sent us this statement:

“We appreciate the parents’ continued advocacy for their children. All school issues like this are under consideration as part of the larger school boundary analysis that the district is currently engaged in.”

“We feel like we have really, really great support. Superintendent Davis has been very supportive,” said Mills.

“Thus far, we’ve had really good feedback. I think that we need to continue because we really want a 'yes' vote so this can become a reality next year,” said Eichmann.

If the school district doesn't approve this, many families will have to find another way to move forward.

“I’d be really extremely disappointed. It just feels like it’s the right thing to do for our kids. It’s a step in the right direction. There’s no reason that it shouldn’t be done. So I would be devastated, along with the whole community, I think,” said Mills.