PASCO COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Students in Pasco County head back to the classroom early Monday morning as the first day of the new year began.
Some students in Wesley Chapel stepped foot into a brand new school. Cypress Creek Middle High School has students in grades 6-11 this year and is expecting about 1,500 kids to be enrolled.
School principal Carin Hetzler-Nettles has been with the school system for several years and even graduated from Pasco County schools.
“It’s making those connections with kids and getting them engaged in school so they can do the right work, get their academics and head out into this world and knock it out of the park,” she says as the year begins.
Cypress Creek Middle High is one of two new schools to open in Pasco County this year. The other new school is Bexley Elementary in Odessa. Both were built to help ease the big issue of overcrowding.
Other than building new schools, the school district also rezoned several school boundaries which has many parents and students outraged.
News Channel 8 has spoken with dozens of parents, who say they chose to buy the house they live in based on where they wanted their children to attend school.
“I mean, I brought my family here, and I did what I needed to do and now I’m no longer welcomed at that school,” one parent says.
Superintendent Kurt Browning says that no matter where kids go to school in the county, they are sure to get a good education.
“Kids are resilient, they can adapt, kids can adjust and that’s what they are going to do,” says Browning.
Because Pasco is still one of the largest growing counties in the state, the school district is doing its best to keep up with growth. Four more new schools are in the works to help relieve some of the overcrowding.
To help fund these new schools, county commissioners are expected to approve a plan Tuesday, Aug. 15 that will increase school impact fees.
Developers are charged that fee for every new home that is built.
Right now they pay roughly $4,800. Under the new plan, we’re told the fee goes up to $8,300 over the next three years.
Some parents argue that isn’t enough for the county to build enough schools.
“I mean, it is a step in the right direction what we’re doing but we really need all the money. We’re way overcrowded,” says parent Claudine Judge.
Like her, many parents are pushing for the full impact fee, proposing roughly $12,000 added on to some new homes.
District officials say they need five new schools because of the exploding growth.
We’re told revenue from the raised impact fees will only cover the cost of four schools.
The commission is expected to make a final tomorrow, August 15th.
Be sure to watch WFLA News Channel 8 from 4:30 to 7 a.m. during the month of August. Every morning, we’ll bring you a special back-to-school story to help you and your family prepare for the school year.
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