Our School Board’s attempt last year to rezone students was just deemed void. This causes two problems. The first problem directly affects our students. They may now be forced to move to the school they were previously zoned to, which would cause them to be uprooted in the middle of the school year and cause issues with class size for our students and our teachers. The article above states that Kurt Browning, our superintendent, can reassign them back to the school they are currently at. This would prevent the students from feeling disrupted in the middle of the school year by making the court decision pointless.
The second problem this brings up is current plans to rezone. Again. One claim in the article is that the School Board did not keep the decision open to the community, which is what the Sunshine Law is meant to protect. During the last School Board meeting, when two fathers defended their children’s needs to not be moved to another school for a second year in a row, the microphones were not working. This made it very difficult for those in the crowd, myself included, to hear the parents. I cannot imagine how the School Board members managed to hear the parents well enough. Once the discussion of the rezoning was over, the microphones came on within the first couple of sentences of the next speaker, just in time to hear all of the achievements of our students in Pasco. While I would like to believe this was done unintentionally and was a coincidence of the technology, I also believe we need to maintain more open communications with the community. Why were there not backup microphones? Why was there not a longer attempt to bring the microphones up before starting the meeting?
Another issue with the rezoning is the fact that rezoning will not solve our problems of overcrowding in our schools. As I’ve mentioned before, we have essentially only 4 elementary and 4 middle schools that are open during school choice. The rest are frozen due to capacity, meaning they would not be able to take any more students, or frozen due to class size, meaning they would only be able to take students for certain grade levels as they pack the classrooms. We the immense developing of neighborhoods, especially in central and east Pasco, we are bringing more children to our schools. I averaged the capacity percentages of our schools. As a whole, Pasco Elementary Schools are at 91.6% capacity, Pasco Middle Schools at 90% capacity, and Pasco High Schools at 96.5% capacity. At this rate, we already have no more space in our schools. We as a county have also chosen to turn one of our existing schools into a technical school. While this might be a nice option for our students, it is removing a location to spread our students around, as we may end up having fewer enrollees in the technical school than there are currently in it as a traditional school. Where will those remaining students go?
It’s time. We must start building schools for our growing population now, so that we’re prepared when it starts to grow. We must start raising our teacher pay to be on par with our surrounding counties, so teachers will live here and teach here instead of living here and teaching in a county where they can get just enough more money to be drawn away.