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Potential rezoning for Winding Waters K-8

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The Hernando County School Board (HCSB) heard a presentation by Davis Demographics at a workshop on January 24, 2023, regarding Hernando County school capacity potentially facing a significant increase in student population over the next ten years.

Currently, Winding Waters K-8 is at 97.5 percent capacity with enrolled students. Forecasts project Winding Waters growing overcapacity in 2024.
Winding Waters is also the county’s newest school to be constructed and is currently adding 12 classrooms. In addition, new housing developments in the area are estimated to add 435 students to the Winding Waters boundary.

The board was presented with two rezoning scenarios to address the capacity issue at Winding Waters.
The first scenario would send some students in the southernmost attendance boundary for Winding Waters to Pine Grove Elementary school and West Hernando Middle school. Pine Grove has a capacity for 30 percent more students, and West Hernando has 45 percent.
The second would involve rezoning elementary school students of three school zones; the southern area of Winding Waters, the western area of Deltona Elementary School, and Spring Hill Elementary west of US 19 / Commercial Way. These students would be zoned for Westside Elementary school, which currently has a capacity for 30 percent more students.

Additionally, it would move students in the eastern section of the Winding Waters boundary to Pine Grove.
Middle School students currently in the southern Winding Waters boundary would be zoned for Fox Chapel Middle School, which has a capacity for 28 percent more students. Those in the eastern Winding Waters zone would be moved to West Hernando Middle School, with a current capacity of 45 percent over its current enrollment. Both scenarios are expected to result in a reduction of approximately 500 students at Winding Waters.
No decisions were made during this meeting.

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This informational workshop was the first of a series. The first public workshop was held on January 26th. An online comment period ran from January 30 through February 3. A second public workshop will be held on February 16, 2023, at 6:00 PM at the Weeki Wachee High School cafeteria. A second online comment period via the HCSB “Let’s Talk” app will take place between February 20 – 24, 2023.

A second workshop will take place before the regular meeting, in which a public hearing will be held on February 28, 2023, at the HCSB Meeting room at 6:00 PM. The final decision will be made at the School Board meeting on March 28th, 2023, at 6:00 PM.
As growth throughout the county is projected to bring 9,832 single-family homes, 1,239 apartments, and 925 villas and/or townhomes, school capacity in the K-8 grades is expected to increase as well. Findings by Davis show that in elementary grades, only Explorer K-8, Spring Hill Elementary School, and Westside Elementary are expected to see a decrease in students at five and ten years. Explorer is expected to see a decline in middle school students as well. No reason was given for the forecasted census decline in these schools.

Davis concluded that over the next ten years, students within the Winding Waters boundary will increase to over 1500. Parrott Middle School is projected to add 890 students, and for high schools, Hernando High and Weeki Wachee are on track to add 1,200 and approximately 1,100 students, respectively.

Lorne Woods, a representative with Davis, discussed what the rezoning might look like in terms of boundaries and busing. Davis’ plan is to keep existing neighborhoods together and continue current busing while limiting impacts on the school board’s transportation system.
Specifics of proposed busing of students to West Hernando or Pine Grove were not discussed at this meeting.
Concluding, Woods said, “The ultimate goal of any type of rezoning is not to have to do it every couple of years, maybe half a decade or so … your district is considered, I’ll say it’s a fast-growth district. It’s not wrong to say it. You have over 12,000 planned or active housing units coming online over the next ten years … that’s significant, and your county geography — it’s a bigger impact.”

Lisa MacNeil
Lisa MacNeil
Lisa MacNeil is a reporter for the Hernando Sun as well as a business technology developer, specializing in website development, content management systems, and data analysis.
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