Board mulls shifting students to other schools

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By Mike Wright

CRYSTAL RIVER — A few hundred students could be headed for new schools next year because of population shifts in the county’s Central Ridge and Inverness areas.

The Citrus County School Board today will review tentative boundary lines for two high schools and five elementary schools. It would be the first significant rezoning in at least six years.

Chuck Dixon, director of planning and growth management, said the rezoning is necessary to balance student populations at Crystal River and Lecanto high schools. Also, rezoning is necessary to relieve crowding at Pleasant Grove and Forest Ridge elementary schools.

He said a consultant is recommending middle school rezoning to align with new high school boundaries. The staff report, however, said middle school rezoning is not necessary.

“We’re going to have to do that at some point, but not this year,” Dixon said. “If we don’t have to do it, we don’t do it. It’s disruptive.”

The moves would not include students who next year will be in the fifth or 12th grades. Dixon said the district traditionally does not rezone students who are in the final year at their school.

Maps of the proposed rezoned areas will be available on the district’s website — www.citrus.k12.fl.us — following today’s school board meeting.

Three community meetings are also planned for school district officials to meet with parents. The meetings are: 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Crystal River High School for high school rezoning; 6 p.m. Feb. 7 at Citrus Springs Middle School for elementary and high school rezoning; 5:30 p.m. Feb. 21 at Inverness Primary School for elementary and high school rezoning.

The proposed rezonings include:

* Moving 125 to 130 students in the Citrus Springs area from Lecanto High to Crystal River High School. Dixon said the renovations at CRHS moved the entrance to Turkey Oak Drive, which is closer to many Citrus Springs students than Lecanto High. CRHS has about 1,250 students compared to Lecanto High’s 1,745 students.

Dixon said students enrolled in academies, such as the Art Academy or International Baccalaureate at Lecanto High, would be allowed to stay put.

* Moving 50 to 60 Pine Ridge and Citrus Springs students from Central Ridge Elementary to Citrus Springs Elementary.

* Moving 40 to 50 Citrus Hills students from Forest Ridge Elementary to Hernando Elementary.

* Moving 45 to 50 Highlands students from Pleasant Grove Elementary to Inverness Primary.

* Moving 15 to 20 students north of Gobbler Drive near Old Floral City Road and U.S. 41 from Inverness Primary to Floral City Elementary.

* Moving 25 to 30 students from the Heatherwood area from Pleasant Grove to Floral City Elementary.

A final decision on the rezoning is expected in April.

Contact Chronicle reporter Mike Wright at 352-563-3228 or mwright@chronicleonline.com.