School board OKs high school rezoning

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Panel nixes project to alter elementary zones

By Mike Wright

INVERNESS — Citrus County School Board members nixed the idea of rezoning elementary school students next year but will move forward with a rezoning plan for two high schools.

Board members said they thought the proposed elementary rezoning would cause anxiety for parents and children while providing little relief for schools. On the other hand, they embraced a plan to move 160 students in the Citrus Springs-Pine Ridge area from Lecanto High School to Crystal River High School next year.

Board member Thomas Kennedy, who has elementary-school-age children, said he lives in the affected area.

“From a parent, that would be wonderful,” he said of the proposed high school rezoning. “This makes logical sense.”

Chuck Dixon, director of planning and growth management, had recommended several boundary changes to ease student populations at Pleasant Grove and Forest Ridge elementary schools. Plans included moving groups of students to Citrus Springs Elementary, Central Ridge Elementary, Hernando Elementary, Inverness Primary and Floral City Elementary schools.

Dixon said the plan would equalize student populations in the district’s elementary schools. All elementary schools but Pleasant Grove are under capacity.

Board members found fault with the plans, however. They said elementary rezoning would only move population burdens from one school to another. For example, proposals would have moved 45 to 60 students from Pleasant Grove or IPS to Floral City Elementary. 

Board member Pat Deutschman said Floral City cannot handle more students without renovations the district cannot afford.

“I can’t see how we can justify moving a single student down there,” Deutschman said.

Kennedy had concerns about moving 50 to 60 students from Central Ridge to Citrus Springs Elementary. He noted Central Ridge’s population includes 69 students who have “out-of-zone” waivers. Of those, 20 are children of school staff. He said it wasn’t fair to relocate 50 Central Ridge students when the school population includes a similar amount of students who are actually zoned to another school.

Deutschman said she didn’t think the rezoning was necessary, especially considering the anxiety brought upon parents and students who are forced to change schools.

“We tend to rezone the same pockets of people,” she said. “They go this way, they go that way.”

While dismissing the elementary rezoning, board members agreed the high school rezoning makes sense. Dixon said with Crystal River’s new entrance off Turkey Oak Drive, the affected students will be closer to CRHS than LHS.

The rezoning would not impact students who will be seniors next year.

Dixon scheduled two public meetings to gather parent input. The board is expected to make a final decision on the rezoning in April.

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