Parents from Shady Hills Elementary are voicing opposition to a plan to send their children to Crews Lake Middle while Shady Hills is undergoing a massive renovation.
Mixing elementary school students with middle school students is a mistake that could prove dangerous for the younger children, who would be easy targets for bullies, the parents told the Pasco County School Board Tuesday evening.
“I feel placing these students in Crews Lake will be a disaster waiting to happen,” said Craig Rogers, whose 6-year-old son attends Shady Hills.
Shady Hills Elementary, built in 1975, is scheduled for an $8.5 million renovation and school district officials say students need to be moved elsewhere while the work is happening.
The district wants to make Crews Lake Middle a K-8 school during the two years that Shady Hills needs to be closed, beginning this August.
Superintendent Kurt Browning and his staff held a meeting with Shady Hills parents March 12 to explain the plan, but the parents weren’t happy with what they heard and appealed to the school board to come up with an alternative.
One solution, the parents suggested, is to handle Shady Hills the same way the district is handling an $11.5 million reconstruction project at Schrader Elementary in Port Richey. Portable classrooms are being moved onto the Schrader campus so students can remain there while their 40-year-old school is torn down and rebuilt.
“If you can put Schrader in portables for one year, why can’t you do the same for Shady Hills?” asked Rosemary Rogers, president of the Shady Hills Parent-Teacher Organization.
Board members made no decision on whether to work out a different plan.
A similar renovation project is planned for Quail Hollow Elementary. Students there will be moved to either Wesley Chapel Elementary or Watergrass Elementary in the interim.
Both Quail Hollow and Shady Hills were built in the 1970s and are often referred to as Kelley schools because they were designed by architect Eoghan Kelley.
The schools used a windowless, open-classroom concept that was popular throughout the country at the time and harkened to the days of one-room schoolhouses.
In Pasco, where a 1970s population boom fueled the need for more schools, the school district built three high schools, one middle school and five elementary schools using the Kelley concept.
About two years ago, the school board began contemplating the need for major remodeling at the Kelley schools, which aren't up to current building codes and don't mesh well with 21st century academic needs.
The district lacked the necessary money for the work, though, until voters in November renewed the Penny for Pasco sales tax.