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Tuesday, Sep 25, 2018
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Enrollment growth anticipated for Pasco County charter schools, with two more to open in the fall

Most of Pasco County’s more established charter schools expect to see their student population remain stable in 2018-19.

Even so, enrollment in the county’s charter schools is expected to grow by about 1,100 children — or nearly 25 percent — in the fall.

Two new charter schools will lead the way.

Union Park Charter Academy, set to open in Wesley Chapel, is a Charter Schools USA facility that projects opening with 615 students in kindergarten through sixth grade.

Plato Academy Charter School is expected to debut with 288 children in kindergarten through third grade. A sister school in Trinity, which began with 72 students, looks to grow to 260 as it completes its new building and adds fourth-grade classes.

A couple of existing charter schools also anticipate strong growth.

Classical Preparatory, which recently added a new classroom building and extra grade levels, is projected to add nearly 180 students, bringing its total to 850. And MYcroSchool, a 9-12 grade online program that came close to being shut down this year, plans to more than double its enrollment from 40 to 100.

Another new charter school is on track to open in Wesley Chapel, where most of the district schools are over capacity, in fall 2019.

The total charter enrollment in Pasco is expected to be 5,513 in the fall. By contracts, the number could rise to 7,342.

TESTING CONFLICT: It’s that time of year again when parents who want to participate in the national Take Your Kids to Work day get to choose between time with their children or testing.

The annual event again conflicts with Florida’s spring assessment window, and not surprisingly, schools are encouraging parents to make sure their children show up for the exams on April 26.

Percent tested is part of the state grading system, after all.

The Pasco County School District has set up guidelines for families who still want to bring their sons and daughters to work with them, though.

Parents can get their principal’s okay to take their children out, provided no tests are scheduled for that specific day. But they have to consult with the principal and teachers in advance.

District employees who want to participate will have to wait until May 21.

"Employees also must prearrange their children’s absences with their principals and teachers if they plan to participate on May 21," the administration stated in a memo to staff.

REZONING FALLOUT? Pasco County schools superintendent Kurt Browning doesn’t need a new home loan.

He also isn’t considering a move to Magnolia Estates or Riverside Estates, two communities west of Seven Springs Boulevard whose children were recommended for a move from one school to another until Browning rejected that staff proposal.

But shortly after the School Board held a public hearing on his rezoning plan, Browning’s email box began filling with messages from real estate agents asking to meet about his inquiries into several half-million-dollar homes in the area.

He also received a response to a request for loan information, offering four matched lenders to choose among.

Browning, who recently added a pool to his east Pasco home where he’s lived since 1996, sent a note back to each email, telling the senders he’s not interested.

"I didn’t make an inquiry," he wrote to realtor.com, where much of the information came from. "I’ve either been spammed or hacked."

No one in the school district wanted to guess why someone might have submitted false requests for real estate information in the superintendent’s name.

Spokeswoman Linda Cobbe said Browning sent all the information to the Sheriff’s Office for review.

CLOSING CEREMONY: Ridgewood High School is seeking former students and staff members to participate in its formal closing activity, scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday May 22.

During the event, school officials plan to distribute pictures, trophies, awards and other memorabilia to the people who earned them over the years. Other items, such as sports team uniforms, will be sold.

After a 90-minute open house, the event will feature a ceremony in the gym at 7:30 p.m.

Former faculty and staff who plan to attend should call Cathy Tezber at (727) 774-3901, email her at [email protected], or complete the online RSVP at http://rhs.pasco.k12.fl.us/mform/view.php?id=76855. Ridgewood High School is located at 7650 Orchid Lake Road in New Port Richey.

Contact Jeffrey S. Solochek at [email protected] Follow @jeffsolochek.

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