In an effort to deal with a projected rise in the Hernando County student population over the next few years, the Hernando County School Board has been planning a partial rezoning of certain schools for the 2023-2024 School Year. That plan was changed in a School Board workshop on February 14th.
One of the zones at issue is the rapidly growing area of northwest Hernando County. That zone includes Winding Waters K-8, as well as Weeki Wachee High School. According to Jim Lipsey, the District’s Manager of Planning, Design, and Construction, Winding Waters is currently at 98% student capacity. Lipsey explained that Winding Waters is one of the “feeder schools” that has students who will eventually go to Weeki Wachee High School. Recent studies indicate that high school still has very limited student capacity and is projected to fill rapidly as the population of the area grows.
At the February 14th workshop, the School Board discussed and finalized a plan to postpone rezoning until the 2024-25 school year. At that time, the School Board plans to initiate a district-wide comprehensive rezoning effort. A complete rezoning will not only alleviate the Winding Waters problem but help address the future needs of schools reaching maximum student capacities in other parts of the county.
In the interim, the district plans to add twelve new classrooms and five portable units to Winding Waters, which will add enough capacity for just under 400 new students. The portable units are not intended to be a long-term fix, as the district is only leasing them for a short-term period, Lipsey said.
A recent study commissioned by the School Board projects that the Hernando County School District will grow by 3,000 students over the next five years and 8,000 students over the next ten years.