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School district buys land for six years down road
The board will pay $900,000 for 20 acres, where Elementary T is set to open in 2013.
By JEFFREY S. SOLOCHEK, Times Staff Writer
Published November 1, 2007
ZEPHYRHILLS - Richard and Kim Kinney had no plan to sell 20 acres of their homestead on Otis Allen Road.
Then the Pasco school district came to call.
Now, the Kinneys, who run a horseshoe business from their barn and boast one of the country's largest camphor trees, will become neighbors to an elementary school.
The School Board, in what seems to be a continuous land acquisition mode, is set to pay the family $900,000 for the site that eventually will house what is called Elementary T.
Just a couple of weeks ago, the board approved a contract for property for a future high school near Crews Lake.
Elementary T is slated to open in 2013. It will be the ninth new elementary school to rise in Pasco in six years, including the three that began classes this year.
The far eastern reaches of the county have not grown as rapidly as the more suburban areas, such as Trinity and Wesley Chapel. Rather, the growth has remained slow but steady, to the point where, as assistant superintendent Ray Gadd put it, "all of a sudden, you go, 'Whoa.' "
As in, how did all these kids get here?
And when you take a look at the three closest schools, it's clear that they are arriving.
Woodland Elementary, with a permanent capacity of 670, currently enrolls about 970 children. West Zephyrhills Elementary, built for 774 students, has about 855 attending. And Chester Taylor Elementary, which has 536 seats, enrolls 843 youngsters.
"The growth is a little bit slower, but we still need a new elementary school out there," Gadd said.
The district is buying the land now, even though the construction isn't scheduled to begin until 2011, so it can secure a better price than if it would wait, Gadd added: "The assumption is, five years out, land prices will increase."
Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 813 909-4614. For more education news, visit the Gradebook at blogs.tampabay.com/schools.