History of Education in Pasco County


This page was last revised on Nov. 2, 2021.

The earliest school in what is now Pasco County may have been the Fort Dade Academy. Author and soldier Francis Calvin Morgan Boggess (1833-1902) wrote in his autobiography that he taught at the Fort Dade Academy in the early 1850s. He wrote (in the third person):

When the author landed in Fort Brooke the country had but few settlers and it was impossible to get employment. He had no money but found a gentleman and lady from Alabama and lived with them as one of the family. Mr. Gideon Tyner, who lived at Fort Dade came down to Tampa to catch a supply of mullet. He had no school in his vicinity and he prevailed on Mr. Boggess to go and teach school for them. School teaching was repugnant to him but as there was nothing else to do he accepted and went home with him. The school house had only one door in the end, had no benches to sit on or to write. With the aid of the young man, as there were several older than the teacher, benches were made and he taught a successful school for three months making thirty- five dollars a month.

A 1928 newspaper article, based on a talk given by Jasper Carter, has:

In 1874, the first public school was opened about five miles beyond San Antonio, for this territory. Mr. Carter can remember attending that school, also that his father paid the then huge sum of $4.00 monthly for his board so that he might be near this school. And, by the way, Mr. Carter says that he is the lad who would not outspell the little lady in his class and take the head of the class from her. It actually happened that he missed the word intentionally to accede to her class leadership in spelling.

A list of Hernando County schools in 1877-78 here includes these schools believed to have been located in what is now Pasco County: Ft. Broome (Dade City), Willow Oak (Darby), Brushy Branch (Pasco), Prospect, Wesley Chapel, Fort Dade Seminary (Dade City), Townsend House, Union (between Zephyrhills and Wesley Chapel), Baillie (Elfers), Lang (Hudson), Anclote, Sea Island (SE Pasco), New River (west of Zephyrhills), Pine Grove (Loyce), and Pleasant Plains (Land O’ Lakes).

In 1887 a new county named for Samuel Pasco was created from the southern third of Hernando County. The Pasco County School Board was created that same year. Augustine H. Ravesies was appointed the first superintendent of schools. At this time there were 37 teachers in Pasco County. Their salaries ranged from $20 to $35 per month.

Recorded deeds show that on Aug. 16, 1887, the Hernando County school board transferred the schools in the newly-formed Pasco County to the Pasco County school board.

At the time of the creation of Pasco County, most schools were wooden structures consisting of one or two rooms. A typical school employed one teacher, who taught first through sixth or eighth grade. Schools sometimes closed because attendance became too low, perhaps fewer than ten students. Schools were also occasionally moved within a community as the population of school-age children shifted. A number of schools were destroyed by fire and at least one was blown down by a storm. Individual schools or school districts were headed by (usually) three trustees, who were locally elected. The trustees normally recommended to the county school board the name of the teacher to be hired, and usually the county school board approved the requests. Typical enrollment at the one-room schools was around thirty students, but some schools had as few as ten or fifteen students. The school year was typically three months, from October through December. Mary Abigail (Howell) Murray recalled that when she started school in the fall of 1887, “the seats were made of a half of a log with the flat top up, and legs placed in auger holes that were bored in the round rough side.” She also wrote, regarding her first teacher, Prof. B. L. Blackburn, “It was a custom then for teachers to take turns ‘boarding around.’ When it came the week for him to board at my Aunt Jane’s the spare company room was given an extra cleaning and the best embroidered pillow slips, softest feather pillows, and the oldest girl’s pet patchwork quilt was brought out and used.”

Until racial integration of the schools in the 1960s, blacks normally attended separate schools. The first black school may have been the Hernando Colored School, which may have been located near what is now Trilby and which was in operation by 1888. (However, this school may have been located in Hernando County.) Other early black schools were located at Dade City (about 1888), Lake Buddy (1890), St. Thomas (1894), Flat Ford (1894), San Antonio (1897), and Ehren (1901). Black schools later operated at Lacoochee, Odessa, Zephyrhills, New Port Richey, and Fivay.

The oldest existing high school in Pasco County is Pasco High School, which was originally also referred to as Dade City High School or simply as “the high school.” It is not clear exactly when the school opened, although a reference to “the graded and high school” is found in school board minutes of 1889. The high school became a separate institution from the grade school in 1901. [An 1885 directory of Florida refers to a Clear Lake High School in San Antonio, although this school could have been what is now called a junior high school. A school known as Fort Dade Academy operated in the 1850s; it is not known what grades were taught. A newspaper advertisement of July 11, 1884, shows Fort Dade High School and Ellerslie Academy.]

The first school board meeting recorded in the minutes occurred on July 18, 1887. The minutes from that meeting have: “The Superintendent was instructed to proceed to Brooksville and make a formal demand for Pasco County’s share of the school property [illegible] from the division of the late Hernando County.”

The list of schools in the minutes of Sept. 5, 1887, is: Macon, Hebron, Oak-Dale, Pasco, Clay Sink, Loyce, Blanton, Fort Dade Academy, St. Thomas, Bethlehem, O’Berry, Dade City, Vereen, Clear Lake, Enterprise, Hatton, Prospect, Matchett Lake, Beulah, Hays, Oak Dale, New River, Sumner, Emmaus, Baillie, Port Richey, Buddy Lake, Wesley Chapel, Richland.

In 1887 teacher salaries were set as follows: for a 3rd grade certificate, $20 – $25 per month, 2nd grade certificate, $30 – $35 per month, 1st grade certificate, $40 – $45 per month.

On Jan. 2, 1888, the school board, hearing that some teachers failed to observe Thanksgiving day, passed a motion directing that teachers observe all state and national holidays and suspend school on those days.

A document dated Feb. 8, 1888, indicates the school board at that time consisted of G. W. Bearden, J. W. Higgins, M. Jones, Stephen Weeks, and W. B. Hay.

At the June 23, 1888, school board meeting, it was reported that the school enrollment was increasing rapidly and that the census of school-age children just taken showed that there are in the county between the ages of 4 and 21 years of age 1,311 children and between the ages of 6 and 21, 1,234 children.

On March 11, 1889, the Benedictine sisters in San Antonio established Holy Name Academy, with 40 boys and girls. The following September the sisters began teaching at the San Antonio and St. Joseph elementary schools and their academy became a “select school for young ladies.” Later in 1889 the main Saint Leo College building, a three-story structure, was constructed. On June 4, 1889, the Order of St. Benedict received a charter from the state legislature to confer college degrees. This date is considered the founding date of Saint Leo College and Saint Leo Abbey. On Sept. 14, 1890, “St. Leo’s College” was formally dedicated. It is the first Catholic college in Florida.

School board minutes of October 2, 1899, indicate that on account of “a disease similar to smallpox in the turpentine camp near school #22 (?)” the county superintendent was directed to suspend the school until the danger of it spreading was past.

School board minutes of February 3, 1890, show that the suspension of a student, Eddie Blocker, was upheld by the board. A thorough investigation was held with witnesses called, and the principal’s action was sustained.

A report submitted to the state by Superintendent Robert M. Ray for the year ending Sept. 30, 1891, and published in 1892, stated that every school district in the county except two had a special tax of from 2 to 3 mils levied for the purpose of building and furnishing and extending school terms. Ray wrote, “I would suggest that there be a still lower grade of certificate for colored teachers, if possible to have it. Pasco will, as appears now, be unable to have a single colored school taught this year.”

In 1893, a five-month school term was recommended.

In the report to the state for the two years ending June 30, 1896, Superintendent Robert M. Ray reported an enrollment of 1123 pupils, 48 teachers, and 42 schools, “including the graded school which is in a flourishing condition and has, happily, been a success from the day it opened.” He reported that the length of the school term is five months, supplemented from one to three months in about 25 districts by the special tax levied by the districts. The value of school property was $14,000.

In 1897, typical teacher salaries were $30 or $45 per month.

On Jan. 6, 1898, the San Antonio Herald reported, “The Prospect school house was burned Friday night and as there is suspicion that it was set on fire purposely, the county commissioners have offered a reward of $50 for the conviction of the guilty parties.”

On Feb. 10, 1898, the San Antonio Herald reported, “The Dade City graded school will remain open for the full term of ten months, while the balance of the county has to be satisfied with six months.”

On Oct. 5, 1899, the San Antonio Herald reported, “The public school in the Darby settlement was closed by order of the School Board on account of sickness.”

In report to the state in 1900, the county school superintendent reported that there were 35 subdistricts in Pasco County. Each district levied a property tax and was able to extend the school term from four to six or eight months.

On Jan. 11, 1900, the San Antonio Herald reported, “The graded schools of the county were left in the lurch by the School Board last Saturday. The usual extension of the term was refused in order to cut expenses, as recommended by the Grand Jury at its session last Spring.”

On July 1, 1901, the school board appointed Mrs. J. B. Johnston as Principal of the high school in Dade City. However, the board subsequently discovered that Mrs. Johnston had taught black teachers during the summer in the Peabody Summer Normal School for Colored Teachers in Gainesville, and her appointment was rescinded. [Apparently she did serve as principal during the 1900-01 term.]

On Sept. 13, 1904, the Clay Sink schoolhouse with furniture and library burned. The county school board met in a special session on Sept. 17 to authorize construction of a new school.

School board minutes of March 6, 1905, have: “On motion Miss Bigger was allowed to continue her music classes but to excuse those who can not sing, and those whom their parents request to be excused.” She was apparently teaching at the high school in Dade City at this time.

In a 1908 report to the state, the school superintendent reported that many schools were operating for a term of eight months. The report referred to the Dade City High School and a junior high school in Trilby. It also reported that there were five black schools in the county, each operating for a term of four months.

A 1909 publication listed the members of the school board as: District 1: W. C. Crum, Lacoochee; District 2: M. J. Kersey, Kenney; District 3: L. J. Sellers, Pasco.

Minutes of May 4, 1909, have: “On motion, the school board made demands on the County Commissioners that they pay the salary of the County Supt. of Pub. Instruction out of the general funds, as the constitution provides and the supreme court has decided. The Commissioners waived the payment until the next first Monday.”

The 1910 report to the state indicated that the county school board was attempting to consolidate many of the schools.

In the early 1910s, Prof. P. W. Corr, the principal of the Dade City high school, operated the South Florida Normal Institute, a school for teachers, in the high school building during the summers.

At the end of the 1909-10 school year, several small schools were closed and a new two-story Zephyrhills Consolidated School was built between Fifth and Sixth Streets and Seventh and Eighth Avenues.

In his report to the state dated Oct. 14, 1912, County Superintendent of Public Instruction M. L. Gilbert wrote, “The average salary of white male teachers is $75.00 per month, and that of the white female $65.00; school term some seven and one-half months.”

On June 18, 1915, the Dade City Banner reported: “The county school board met Monday, and received bids and let contracts for three new school buildings for this county. A contract was let to Fuller & Cripe to erect a school building at New Port Richey, their bid being $2,200. The Pasco contract was let to Isaac Cripe, the price being $664. The contract for the Anclote building was let to P. J. McKendry for $443. A contract was also awarded E. M. Staley, of this city, for the building of brick toilets for the Pasco high school and installing sewer and plumbing work therein, the contract price being $1,342.30.”

In a letter to the voters printed in the Dade City Banner of May 26, 1916, Superintendent James W. Sanders, who was seeking reelection, mentioned that the County Board has provided for uniform county examinations of all students in seventh and eighth grades throughout the county. He mentioned there was a suit to determine whether the County Commissioners should pay the Superintendent’s salary, and there was a prosecution of a person who forged teacher’s certificates.

At the school board meeting of July 3-5, 1916, the school board ruled that a one-teacher school must make an average of 10 pupils, a two-teacher school must make an average of 30 pupils, and a three-teacher school must make an average of 60 pupils.

On March 14, 1917, the Tampa Morning Tribune reported:

The squabble over the location of the new school building in the Trilby-Lacoochee district seems to have been finally settled. This dispute has caused the holding of at least fifteen special meetings by the County School Board, and has delayed for several months the beginning of work on the building. One school house has already been burned, and threats were made that the new one would be blown up if not located where certain parties wanted it. The School Board had agreed with the contractors to insure the new building while in course of construction, but the insurance companies refused to write insurance covering it. The Trilby people sent a long petition to Governor Catts accusing the County Board of giving them a “dirty deal,” and the governor sent Rural School Inspector Turner to investigate the matter. He brought the contending factions together on a site just west of the lot on which the old building was burned, and it is presumed that work will now proceed.

On Aug. 7, 1918, the anti-Catholic Governor of Florida, Sidney J. Catts, having read that nuns were teaching in the public school in San Antonio, wrote to Supt. Sanders demanding they be fired. He had campaigned on a promise that no Catholics would be teaching in the public schools. Sanders replied to the Governor’s letter asking him what law gave him the authority “to inquire of prospective teachers their religious convictions or church affiliations.” He also explained to the Governor that school board members, not the superintendent, approved the hiring of teachers. The Governor wrote back demanding that Sanders read his letter to the school trustees and “notify them that they must put Protestants in the public schools of Pasco County.”

The school board complied with the wishes of the Governor. In Saint Joseph, nuns were removed from the school until Catts left office. Until it closed, the small St. Joe school was the only public school in Florida taught by nuns. In San Antonio, Saint Anthony’s Parish established a parochial school.

Oct. 11, 1918, the Dade City Banner reported that the county board of education decided on Tuesday to close all Pasco County schools for five weeks until Nov. 11 because of the influenza outbreak. However, the trustees of the Dade City school filed a lawsuit to block the closure, saying closing of the schools was unnecessary. School board minutes which are apparently from Oct. 14, 1918, have: “Upon motion of Mr. Larkin seconded by Mr. Douglass, Board voted to rescind all previous action as to closing the schools of Pasco County on account of influenza epidemic. Upon motion of Mr. Larkin seconded by Mr. Douglass Board voted to close all schools of Pasco County for an indefinite length of time. Supt. to notify all teachers of said action.” At its Nov. 4, 1918, meeting the school board voted to open the Dade City schools on Nov. 4 because of petitioners and court action. It voted to open certain other schools on Nov. 7 and Nov. 11.

On Feb. 3, 1919, the school board voted to close the Clay Sink school #23 on account of influenza.

On Apr. 12, 1919, the county school board voted to consolidate the Port Richey and New Port Richey schools. Opponents of the plan appealed to the Governor of Florida, but the Port Richey school was apparently closed at the end of the 1919-1920 school year.

In the 1920s and 1930s some schools operated as “strawberry schools.” At these schools children went to school during the summer and took the winter months off to help their parents with the strawberry harvest.

At its Sept. 5, 1921, meeting the school board approved a number of rules, including one setting the school day at 5 1/2 hours, not including recesses. Teachers were instructed to open school with appropriate exercises no later than 9 a.m., even if only one pupil was present. Teachers were not to wait until a majority of the students were present. Teachers were to abstain from and prohibit the use of tobacco in all forms at all times on school grounds.

The 1922 report to the state said, “We have four schools of the county doing high school work; one is a senior high, one is an intermediate, and two are doing junior work. The Thirty-five white schools of the county employ sixty-four teachers. Eight colored schools employ twelve teachers.” The report stated that teachers were paid according to the grade of his or her certificate, the enrollment of the school, and “the ability of the teacher to teach.” Salaries for white teachers ranged from $65 to $200 per month; black teachers were paid from $40 to $70 per month.

On Sept. 18, 1922, Gulf High School opened in New Port Richey, the first high school in western Pasco County.

In April 1923 a special election was held to vote on the consolidatioon of the Ellerslie, Elba Heights, Pasadena, and Sand Pond school districts with the Dade City district. All voted to come in except the Sand Pond district.

A June 1, 1924, report of the superintendent indicated that there were 27 white schools and 7 negro schools in the county. Of the 27 white schools, 16 have one teacher, 5 have two teachers, 2 have three teachers, 1 has 5 teachers, 1 has six teachers, 1 has nine, and 1 has thirteen. Of the 7 negro schools, 6 have one teacher and one has four teachers. In the history of the county about ten one-teachers schools have been eliminated by consolidatio0n, two since January 1, 1921. There are 9 transportation routes, a truck owned by the contractor being used on each. Every driver is a man. the routes range from 3 to 5 miles each. About 206 pupils were transported this year, at a cost of about $795 per month. The length of term of the white schools this year ranged from 5 to 8 months; the terms for the negro schools ranged from 3 to 6 months. The salaries of the white teachers, exclusive of the principals and the high school teachers, ranged from $65 to $150 per month, depending on the size of the school, the position of the teacher in the school, and the qualifications of the teacher. The report listed three schools “doing Senior High work,” Pasco, Zephyrhills, and Gulf, although only Pasco was accredited that year as a Senior A school. The Trilby school was accredited as Junior A.

A new Zephyrhills School, for students of all grades, was dedicated on Sept. 10, 1926. It was a concrete and hollow tile structure, finished in stucco, and was built from the proceeds of a $50,000 bond issue voted by the Zephyrhills district.

On Sept. 10, 1926, the Dade City Banner printed some remarks by School Superintendent O’Berry: “Practically every school in the county is crowded to the limit. More rooms, more desks, more teachers, are needed in almost every community, and we haven’t got the desks or teachers or the rooms in which to put them if we had them. While practically every school in the county has a larger enrollment than ever before, the greatest congestion is at Trilby, where the facilities are taxed to the utmost, and it is impossible to add to them. Here in Dade City four more teachers are needed, but cannot be used until the new building is ready. Over on the west coast we opened one new school, Anclote, and it started off with 35 pupils. The New Port Richey graded school will not open until October 1, when the new building will be ready. This building will be one of the best in the county and will be capable of caring for every child in that section. Pasco County has this year the best corps of teachers it has ever had, I believe, and this year should, and probably will, be the most successful in its history.”

On January 3, 1927, a new two-story $150,000 grammar school building opened in Dade City, coinciding with the end of the Christmas vacation.

In Feb. 1928, Schools Superintendent E. B. O’Berry, seeking re-election, stated that every high school of the county was on the highest accredited list of the state and that during his present term a considerable amount of the debt left by the former administration had been paid.

At its meeting on Aug. 6, 1928, the school board adopted rules regarding the transportation of students. Bus drivers were instructed to report pupils who were disobedient on the bus to the school trustees, who were granted authority to deny temporarily transportation to the students. Students were not permitted to jump off the bus before it had come to a complete stop.

On Aug. 7, 1931, the Zephyrhills News reported, “The date of opening of most of the schools in Pasco County has been postponed from August 31 to September 28, by the board of public instruction of Pasco County, at a special meeting held July 27. Certain schools that can be financed from special funds may open on August 31, among these being Crystal Springs, San Antonio, Darby, Ehren, Drexel, Fivay and Myrtle.”

At the start of the 1931-32 school year, Gulf High School was headed by an acting principal, pending action by the Florida Supreme Court on the appointment of a principal. There was a dispute between the county school board and the school trustees over who should be principal.

On Nov. 20, 1931, the Dade City Banner reported that the school board voted to request the Bank of Pasco County to secure funds for the payment of teachers and transporters for at least two months.

In August-October 1933 schools in Zephyrhills, San Antonio, and Trilby were destroyed or heavily damaged by fire. Arson was suspected.

At its meeting on March 4, 1935, the board voted to send a telegram to Governor Sholtz apprising him of the acute financial condition in the county and urging that he endeavor to secure Federal aid for our schools. At its April 15, 1935, the board decided not to pay for telephone service in any school after the present term.

On June 4, 1937, the Zephyrhills News reported:

The Senior and Junior High Schools of Pasco County this month are graduating around 100 young people from their ranks and the Board of Public Instruction are furnishing the diplomas for them. The Zephyrhills school will graduate 20, and Gulf High of New Pt. Richey 18, on this Friday nite, and Dade City will graduate 35 on next Monday night, while on Thursday night of this week, the Junior High at Lacoochee granted diplomas to a class of 26 pupils. Mr. Revels, the county schools, states that all the upper schools have done excellent work the past year, and have made much progress in improving the course of study. He expects at least two of the schools not now on the state accredited list to be there for next year, namely Zephyrhills and Drexel.

On June 7, 1937, Mittye W. Pierce was appointed principal of the Elfers school, where she was to remain for 42 years. The school was later renamed Mittye P. Locke Elementary School in her honor.

On the night of July 6, 1936, Moore’s Academy, the black school in Dade City, was destroyed by fire. Arson was suspected.

On Dec. 30, 1938, the New Port Richey Press reported that State Superintendent Colin English announced that eight public schools in Pasco County fulfill state educational requirements and are on the list approved by the State Board of Education as standard schools. The schools are Dade City Elementary, Gulf High, Lacoochee Elementary, Lacoochee Junior High, Pasco County High, Pierce Grammar, Zephyrhills High.

On July 14, 1939, the Dade City Banner reported, “Quite a sizable deficit still existed and the board was confronted with the question of a reduction in teachers’ pay. Due to the fact Pasco county teaches now only receive moderate wages members of the board and the county superintendent expressed as being opposed to salary cuts, feeling it would tend to lower the standards of the schools. Faced with an apparent deficit of ten percent unless more income was received from real estate taxes, the idea was advanced that teachers and transporters be paid each month ninety percent of the amount they are now receiving. It was felt the employee would then know definitely the amount they would receive each month. Later if real estate taxes were paid and the ten percent was available checks would be mailed. However, final decision on this action was delayed until next meeting.”

In September 1939 the Pasco County Teachers’ Association was organized. The first officers were D. C. Cripe, President; Mark St. Clair, Vice President; Mrs. Eva Dixon, Secretary and Treasurer. In October 1939 an executive board was selected, consisting of Dale Smith and Mrs. T. K. Weyher of Pasco High School; D. A. Daboll and Mrs. D. D. Neal of Dade City Grammar School; J. M. Lanier and Fred Marchman of Gulf High; Bruce Cornelius and Robert Conner of Zephyrhills; Mrs. Jennie Sheldon of Pierce Grammar School; Mrs. Agatha Andrews and Mrs. Leona Sable of Lacoochee Junior High; Mrs. Jack Dowling of Trilby Grammar School; Mrs. Mittye P. Olson, Miss Ruth Giddens, and Mrs. Burton Atwater at large.

In an editorial titled “Let Us Have Nine Months of School,” the Dade City Banner wrote on Jan. 12, 1940, “During the first semester of our school year it was apparent there was not sufficient funds to carry on for nine months without lowering the scale of teachers’ salaries or lowering the efficiency of the school by employing less efficient teachers. … If we do not get a nine months’ term then Pasco High will fail to be an accredited institution.” The editorial asked local residents to make contributions to the school.

In October 1943 the Trilby school was destroyed by fire.

In announcing his candidacy for reelection in 1944, Superintendent of Schools Walter C. Craig said, “The financial condition of the county school system has never been better than it is today. Salaries of teachers and transporters are paid in full promptly and on the first day of each month. All invoices for services and supplies are paid promptly when due. During the past three years the bonded indebtedness of our school system has been decreased to $73,000.00. For the first time in the history of Pasco county all schools, white and negro, from the first through the twelfth grades, are being operated nine full months. Vocational agriculture was added to the curriculum in 1941. Courses in wood working, carpentry, and farm shop are available in all senior high schools.”

On May 21, 1945, the Hudson School was destroyed by fire.

On Sept. 7, 1945, the Evening Independent reported that the opening date for the schools in New Port Richey had been changed to Sept. 20 because rains had damaged the roads to the extent that children residing in the outlying districts would not be able to secure bus transportation before then.

On Jan. 30, 1948, the New Port Richey Press reported that the school board put into use five new school buses following the Christmas holiday, bringing to 23 the total number of buses used in transporting pupils to the various schools.

On April 4, 1949, the school board appointed these principals: Pasco High School, Burch Cornelius; Dade City Grammar School, David A. Daboll; Lacoochee, Mrs. Agatha Andrews; St. Joseph, Sister Catherine Dunne; Zephyrhills, Leon R. Luckenbach; Sanders Memorial, D. C. Cripe; Pierce Grammar, W. G. Stephens; Gulf High, Arthur H. Stevens; Elfers, Mrs. Mittye P. Olson. Negro schools: Moore Academy, Odell K. Mickens; Floyd Academy, Vera L. Goodwin.

In 1950 a state auditor’s report on transactions of the Pasco County School Board was critical of the building of William E. Floyd Academy, a black school in Lacoochee, for $40,431. The auditor said the school cost almost twice as much as it should have, and the school was built without requesting bids or letting a contract. The school board released a statement blaming the State Department of Education for requirements for the school which were “extravagant and elaborate.” The statement also said the school had to be built quickly because the owners of the buildings then in use demanded possession of the buildings. Circuit Judge John U. Bird summoned a grand jury panel to convene on July 31 to investigate the auditor’s report. On Nov. 10, 1950, Governor Fuller Warren removed from office James F. Croley, chairman of the school board. The Governor said that Croley and former Superintendent Walter C. Craig made most of the arrangements for building the Lacoochee School without competitive bids in violation of law. The Governor also said that much of the fault with the board’s administration lay in its policy of letting individual members confine most of their responsibility to affairs from their own districts, but that the policy had been changed to make all members jointly responsible for the entire county.

In September 1950 the start of the school year was delayed six days because of a hurricane.

In June 1951, the school board accepted the resignation of Leon R. Luckenbach, the Principal of Zephyrhills High School, who quit because he refused to grant a diploma to a member of the senior class who had joined the Marine Corps. Luckenbach refused to attend the graduation exercises. A member of the board of trustees and a member of the school board asked Luchenbach to grant the diploma, but Luckenbach refused, reportedly because the student lacked a quarter of a credit. According to school board members, state law allowed a member of the armed forces to receive a high school diploma who lacked as many as 2½ credits.

In May 1953, a delegation which included PTA leaders and about 20 students attended a school board meeting to defend Pasco High School Principal O. S. Bandy, whom the board had intended to replace after one year in the position, apparently for a lack of discipline at the school.

In 1955 the school board purchased a school bus to transport 120 black students from Zephyrhills to Moore-Mickens Academy in Dade City; Zephyrhills black schools were closed [Zephyrhills From A to Z].

In the primary election in May 1956, Chester Taylor defeated Mark St. Clair for superintendent of schools by 42 votes.

In 1956-57 there were sixteen elementary and secondary schools in the county, with an enrollment of 6,449 pupils.

In January 1961 the school board revised the school calendar, closing white schools on Friday, January 27, to allow students to attend the Pasco County fair. Black schools were closed on Jan. 26 for the same reason.

Charges of misconduct against three Gulf High School teachers were addressed at a school board meeting on March 30, 1962. Following the meeting, James E. Pannell resigned, effective April 10, and Edd Webb resigned effective at the end of the school year, although both denied wrongdoing. A third teacher, Fred Smith, was exonerated.

On Sept. 9, 1963, voters in the west Pasco school subdistrict defeated a proposed $1,250,000 school bond issue by a margin of 16 votes—1,120 in favor and 1,104 against. The proceeds of the bond issue were planned to be used for science laboratories, homemaking class facilities, an industrial arts shop, commercial classrooms, and a gymnasium at Gulf High School, a new Elfers elementary school, an addition to Richey Elementary School, and purchase of a site for a school in Hudson.

In December 1963 Gulf High School was removed from the list of approved schools of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The loss of accreditation was attributed to inadequate facilities, in particular science laboratories, which had been planned from the proceeds of the bond issue which voters in western Pasco County had voted down recently. [Accreditation was restored in 1964 following the approval of a bond issue on November 3, 1964.]

In 1966 a major controversy developed over the naming of a new school in Elfers. The school board planned to name the school Stevenson Elementary School, honoring the late Richard D. Stevenson, a highly-respected former school board member who had served for 18 years. Most Elfers residents apparently wanted the name Elfers Elementary School transferred to the new school, as they were concerned that the name “Elfers” was in danger of disappearing, and with it the identity of the community. (The name Elfers Elementary School was retained, but in 1983 the name of the school was changed to Mittye P. Locke Elementary School, honoring its long-time principal, and there was no controversy.)

In the 1966-67 school year, African-American students were allowed to attend Gulf High School. Prior to this year, the small number of black students living in New Port Richey were required to attend high school in Tarpon Springs or Clearwater.

The Associated Press reported in newspapers of May 4, 1967:

NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla.—The Pasco County School Board has ended its battle with the Department of Health, Education and Welfare over desegregation. Chester Taylor, superintendent of schools, announced Wednesday he will sign Form 441B to end the dispute and that several changes will be made in the school setup in the county. Twenty teachers will cross the color line, Taylor said, and four Negro students from Dade City will be transferred to Land O’ Lakes, where they live. Floyd Academy, a Negro school in Lacoochee, will be closed and Mickens High School in Dade City, which is Negro, will be eliminated. The Moore-Mickens Plant will be converted into a junior high school or a new elementary system with equal student body and teaching staffs. The Booker T. Washington School in New Port Richey also will be closed and its pupils transferred to the white elementary school. Litigation against the county will be set forward to October and if the county complies with new regulations, it will be dropped, Taylor said.

On Feb. 19, 1968, a three-week statewide strike by teachers began. Schools in Pasco County continued to operate, using substitute and volunteer teachers. On Feb. 21, 1968, the West Pasco Chronicle reported that Pasco schools would be closed to students on Thursday and Friday after three days of operation with substitute teachers attempting to fill the vacancies created when 140 of the county’s 397 teachers did not report for classes. It reported that at Gulf High School, 26 of 51 teachers had resigned. The schools were closed to give teachers and substitutes a work period to orient themselves and plan for classes the following week.

On Sept. 23, 1969, Pasco County voters rejected a proposed $9.9 million bond issue for the purpose of building new schools and remodeling existing schools. According to a 1972 newspaper article, the school board approved a $9.9-million bond issue for construction of new schools, but canceled the referendum seven days before the voters would have decided. Opposition had developed from groups in western Pasco County because the bond issue earmarked $6-million for eastern Pasco County and only $3-million for western Pasco County.

On Nov. 6, 1969, the Dade City Banner reported: “The Pasco County School Board Tuesday agreed to raise the annual salary of School Supt. Chester W. Taylor from $17,000 to $18,000. The Southern Association of Schools has ordered all counties which wish to remain accredited to provide for superintendents salaries in excess of any paid other county school personnel. A principal must receive more than any teacher working in his school. Taylor’s salary has been lower than those of Assistant Supt. Fred Marchman and Dade City High School Principal Wayne C. Malone.”

In May 1970, voters again rejected a proposed bond issue, this time by a 2-1 margin. During this period, many schools were extremely overcrowded because of recent population growth.

On Nov. 3, 1970, voters rejected a proposal to make the schools superintendent an appointed position.

On May 28, 1970, the St. Petersburg Times reported that the school board decided to eliminate remaining all-black schools in Pasco County. It decided that all sixth and seventh grade students in the Dade City area into the Moore-Mickens school and students in grades 8 and 9 would attend the new Pasco Junior High (the old Pasco High School). Students in kindergarten through 5th grade in the Dade City area would attend either Dade City Grammar School or Pasco Elementary School.

At the beginning of the 1970-71 school year, the new Pasco Comprehensive High School opened, with white and black students, and the all-black Mickens High School was discontinued. A new integrated school also opened in Lacoochee.

On March 15, 1971, the school board approved a proposal to operate double sessions at all elementary schools in western Pasco County, at Zephyrhills High School, and at Sanders Memorial Elementary School. At Richey Elementary and Hudson Elementary double sessions were approved for grades 1-4, and at Sanders Memorial Elementary double sessions were approved for grades 1-5.

On Sept. 13, 1971, enrollment figures showed a large increase in student population in western Pasco County. Gulf Junior High and Gulf High School had a combined enrollment of 2681, compared to 1886 the previous year. Hudson Elementary increased from 637 to 944 and Elfers Elementary from 868 to 1048. School board chairman Dr. Robert Hartzell reported, “We are facing a crisis here with financial demands rising rapidly with the tremendous jump in enrollment that we fully realize will not reach a peak until March or April and a capital outlay budget that is already stretched to the breaking point.” The school board asked Gov. Askew to send financial aid to keep the school system from collapsing.

On March 21, 1972, Doug Manuel, a student at Gulf Comprehensive High School, presented to the school board the results of a survey of high school students in western Pasco County. The survey showed that 90% of students were opposed to a 45-15 calendar, 8% approved it, and 2% had no opinion.

On Aug. 31, 1972, school superintendent Chester W. Taylor Jr. resigned with four months remaining in his term. He had often been at odds with the school board. Fred K. Marchman was appointed interim superintendent by the Governor.

On Sept. 3, 1972, the St. Petersburg Times reported:

A record-shattering enrollment is expected here Tuesday as Pasco County schools open for what may be the last conventional school year. Opening in the shadow of a Sept. 12 bond issue referendum, school officials expect about 17,000 students to jam the system’s already overcrowded classrooms. First day enrollment last year was 13,530, but rose to more than 15,600 during the school year. Officials expect the trend to continue, adding at least 3,000 students each year for the foreseeable future. The hopes of school officials and parents cross the county are pinned on the two-pronged bond issue which could bring in $18.1-million for the construction of eight new schools and other facilities. Officials view the bond issue and the implementation of a 45-15 school year as the only answer to overcrowding 2woes which forced eight of the county’s schools on double sessions this year. The unusual 45-15 program is scheduled to begin in July 1973 at the close of the current school year. It will mark the end of the conventional nine months vacation. Students will, instead, attend nine weeks of classes alternating with three weeks vacation on a year-round basis. Pasco is the first Florida county to adopt the 45-15 school year which puts one-fourth of the student population on vacation at all times. This year two-thirds of the county’s students will attend school on double sessions. … All schools in western Pasco are on double sessions along with Sanders Memorial in Land O’ Lakes, Zephyrhills High School and East Zephyrhills Elementary School. … This year school buses will start picking up children in their homes shortly after 5 a.m. and won’t deliver the last ones home until 7 p.m. Some schools will begin first session classes at 6:45 a.m. and won’t finish the end of the second session until 5:55 p.m.

A September 8, 1972, UPI statewide newspaper article reported:

Double sessions and a spread-out West Pasco County School District combine to force some students to begin an hour and a half bus ride to school at 5:10 a.m. Mrs. Jewell Strickland, a school bus driver for 17 years, picks up her first passenger at that time as she starts her morning run from County Line Road in northwestern Pasco. The winding route takes the yellow bus along bumpy dirt roads, into the small community of Aripeka and then to the school doors here. All junior and senior high school students in West Pasco County attend school here and double sessions, staggered bus runs and crowded classes will be the rule for the rest of the year. School officials hope to put into effect a plan next summer which would initiate an extended school year with one-fourth of the total enrollment on vacation at all times.

On September 12, 1972, voters rejected a proposal to make the schools superintendent an appointed position by a vote of 10,671 to 6,763, but approved by a vote of 9,444 to 8,136 a $16-million bond issue which allowed the construction of Land O’ Lakes High, Hudson High, Zephyrhills High, Bayonet Point Junior High, Quail Hollow Elementary, Cypress Elementary, Northwest Elementary, Shady Hills Elementary, and Anclote Elementary. The schools were designed by architect Eoghan Kelley of Sanford.

In the fall of 1972, Pasco-Hernando Community College began offering classes at St. Leo College, First Baptist Church of Dade City, the old Gulf High School in New Port Richey, and a vacant furniture store in Brooksville.

In the election for superintendent in November 1972, Republican Rodney B. Cox defeated Democrat Dr. Robert Marsh, the principal of Gulf High School.

On Dec. 19, 1972, the school board voted unanimously to begin the 45-15 extended school year program in all county schools, effective next summer.

On March 20, 1973, schools superintendent Rodney B. Cox died in office at age 48. On March 27, Gov. Askew appointed Raymond B. Stewart to replace him, although the Pasco County school board had recommended that Thomas Weightman be appointed instead. Weightman had been serving as acting superintendent during the illness of Cox; he resigned that position was named principal of Principal of Cypress Elementary School at his request. Stewart met with each board member to ask for their cooperation, but he recalled later, “It was quite obvious at the time that I was not their choice.” Mr. Stewart and the board had a difficult relationship. In 1974 he said, “I will not surrender the administrative responsibilities given to me by state law to insure the balance of power. I am, however, ready to cooperate with the school board and to work within the guidelines of existing board policies, as I have always done.”

On April 3, 1973, the school board voted to change the name of Dade City Grammar School to Rodney B. Cox Elementary School, at the request of Charles Lease, principal of the school, and 80 others who signed a petition. The board had previously agreed to name a new elementary school in the Shady Hills area after Cox, but rescinded that action to give the name to the school where Cox served. The new school was named Shady Hills Elementary School. Other school names approved at the same meeting were Cypress Elementary, Land O’ Lakes Junior-Senior High School, Hudson Senior High School, Anclote Elementary School, and Zephyrhills Junior-Senior High School.

On June 25, 1973, ground was broken for four new elementary schools—Anclote, Cypress, Shady Hills, and Northwest. The ceremony was held at the site for Anclote Elementary in Holiday.

On Sunday night, July 8, 1973, the night before class were to begin at Hudson High School, the school’s first principal, 48-year-old Forest L. Mayer, died from a heart attack. He was stricken while working at the school and died about 11 p.m. at Community Hospital in New Port Richey. Coy Pigman was named principal of the school the following month.

To accommodate the rapid growth in population which began in the late 1960s, in July 1973 some schools began operating on a “45-15” schedule. This schedule continued through the 1976-77 school year.

In June 1974 school board member Robert Hartzell proposed that Gulf High and Gulf Junior High schools switch facilities. He said the agricultural complex and athletic complex at Gulf High were inadequate, whereas if it moved to the junior high facility it could be expanded to accommodate 4000 students. The board decided to have Superintendent Ray Stewart study the move. The school principals had already begun space allocation studies. [The schools did switch facilities, in 1977.]

On July 8, 1974, the New Port Richey Press reported that Anclote, Cypress, Northwest, and Shady Hills elementary schools would open today and that it was hoped that these openings will end double sessions for these schools for the first time since 1968. Of the four, only Shady Hills students were to register at their own school, as the other schools were not quite ready. Anclote students were to register at Elfers Elementary, Cypress students at Richey Elementary, and Northwest students at Schrader Elementary.

On March 9, 1975, the St. Petersburg Times reported that Bayonet Point Junior High School would open in a new building tomorrow, and Zephyrhills High School and Land O’ Lakes Junior Senior High School were nearing completion. These two schools were the last of eight schools built as a result of the 1972 bond issue, and the article reported, “The completion of the eight new schools will see all Pasco children return to single sessions for the first time since 1968.”

In June 1975 the four Pasco County high schools had graduation ceremonies at staggered times to allow School Superintendent Thomas Weightman and the school board members to attend every ceremony. Gulf Comprehensive’s ceremony began at 6 p.m. on June 26 and Hudson’s began at 8:30 p.m. Pasco Comprehensive and Zephyrhills held their graduations the following evening, at 6 and 8:30 p.m. respectively.

Pasco County School District In the summer of 1975 new district offices opened near the geographic center of the county on U. S. 41 in Land O’ Lakes. Until this time, administrators had worked at city hall in Dade City, the administrative annex at Pasco Junior High School, West Zephyrhills Elementary School, and at the adult education building in New Port Richey.

In the 1980s, Richey Fundamental School was the only school in the district that did not draw enrollment from geographic boundaries. Vacancies were filled on a first-come, first served basis, and parents waited in line, sometimes for more than 24 hours, to have their children enrolled. At its meeting on May 14, 1991, the school board voted to convert Richey Elementary to a traditional neighborhood school.

Moon Lake Elementary School opened at the start of the 1982-83 school year, under Principal Kathy Lane.

In 1984 the school board voted to adopt a uniform grade structure with kindergarten through sixth grade for elementary schools, grades 7 and 8 for middle schools, and grades 9 through 12 for high schools. At that time the district had both middle schools beginning with 6th grade and junior high schools beginning with 7th grade. The new structure was in place by the start of the 1987-88 school year.

In 1986 voters rejected a proposal to change the position of schools superintendent from an elected to an appointed one.

In July 1987 the school board adopted a policy of adding the sixth grade to middle schools, based on new state legislation.

At its meeting of July 20, 1988, the school board voted to name two new schools for current administrators, superintendent Thomas E. Weightman and Mary Giella, the assistant superintendent for instruction. Because of criticism of the decision, the board subsequently adopted a policy that if a school is named for an elected official or Pasco School Board employee, the individual should have left public office or school district employment for at least two years.

As a result of the November 8, 1988, election, the Pasco County School Board became the only all-female school board in Florida. It was believed to be the first all-female school board ever in Florida.

At the start of the 1991-92 school year, River Ridge Middle-High School opened with 2200 students. It was the first Pasco County school in the modern era to include grades six through twelve.

In 1992 Pasco, Lake Myrtle, and Centennial elementary schools were experimenting with a model known as “continuous progress” which allowed students to learn in multi-age groups. The model was later expanded to other elementary schools in Pasco County. In the 1990s, students in each Pasco County high school were divided into four “learning communities” according to their career interests.

On Nov. 8, 1994, voters again rejected a proposal to change the position of schools superintendent from an elected to an appointed one.

On June 15, 1999, the school board adopted a rule requiring high school students to wear identification badges, beginning in the coming school year. The rule was adopted in response to a school shooting that occurred in Colorado two months earlier. [At the start of the 2005- 2006 school year, students were required to have the ID badges in their possession but were no longer required to wear them.]

On Aug. 18, 2003, Governor Jeb Bush attended the dedication of Bishop McLaughlin High School, the first Catholic high school in Pasco County in modern times. It had opened for classes on Aug. 11.

Pasco County school buses On March 9, 2004, Pasco County voters narrowly approved a one-cent increase in the sales tax. About half of the proceeds were to go to the county school system, which was expected to receive $196.8 million over ten years.

The 2005-2006 school year began for students on August 8, and for teachers on August 1, as Pasco County, like most counties in Florida, continued to move up the start date in recent years in order to give students more time to prepare for the Florida Comprensive Assessment Test (FCAT).

During the 2005-2006 school year, many schools began using eSembler, web-based gradebook and attendance software purchased by the school district which allows parents to access this information on-line.

In 2006 three high schools—Land O’ Lakes, J. W. Mitchell, and Wesley Chapel—held their graduation ceremonies on Sunday, May 21, at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa to accommodate the large number of persons attending.

On August 8, 2006, students began attending six new schools: Wiregrass Ranch High and Dr. John Long Middle in Wesley Chapel; Paul R. Smith Middle in Holiday; Gulf Highlands Elementary in Port Richey; Trinity Oaks Elementary in Trinity; and Oakstead Elementary in the Oakstead development west of Land O’ Lakes. [Trinity Oaks Elementary and Wiregrass Ranch High opened in temporary facilities, as construction was not complete for either school. Both schools began operating in their own facilities on Jan. 9, 2007.] The student count made on the tenth day of school showed 60,167 students in the district’s schools.

During the 2006-07 school year, the district began training all teachers in teaching techniques recommended by Learning Focused Solutions, Inc. The district contracted with the company in an effort to improve student achievement.

In the election on Nov. 7, 2006, voters again rejected a proposal to change the position of the schools superintendent from an elected to an appointed position. The vote was 58%-42%. At this time it was pointed out that the Pasco County School District was the largest district in the United States having an elected superintendent. [Some larger jurisdictions have elected superintendents but they are divided into school districts which are smaller than the Pasco district.]

At the board meeting on Nov. 21, 2006, Frank Parker, a former New Port Richey mayor, and Allen Altman were sworn in as new members, ending an 18-year period during which the board consisted entirely of women. [At one time the Pasco County School Board was said to be the only board in the U. S. composed entirely of women.]

On Feb. 28, 2007, the school board voted 3-2 to reject a proposed plan which district officials and the teachers’ union had negotiated to reward certain teachers with higher pay. The plan, created under a state initiative called Special Teachers Are Rewarded, would have given bonuses to certain teachers under a complicated formula based largely on their students’ test scores. Teachers voted down the plan on Feb. 28 and March 1.

On May 1, 2007, the school board voted 3-1 to allow students who did not pass the FCAT but met other graduation requirements to participate in the high school graduation ceremony. A seven-year old policy had previously barred those students from participating.

On August 20, 2007, five new schools opened: Double Branch Elementary in Wesley Chapel, Gulf Trace Elementary in Holiday, New River Elementary in Wesley Chapel, Charles S. Rushe Middle in Land O’ Lakes, and Sunlake High in Land O’ Lakes. Rushe Middle became the county’s first three-story self-contained school. Several of these schools began in portable classrooms, as their new facilities were not yet ready.

On Sept. 25, 2007, the school board unanimously rejected the Merit Award Program, a state program which would have given bonuses to about 20 to 25 percent of teachers and school-based administrators. Pasco County teachers had earlier rejected the plan by a vote of 2,497 to 772.

On June 30, 2008, the employee union agreed to accept a delay in the annual pay increases, until the district and union officials could gather additional financial data, mainly the cost of health benefits. Superintendent Heather Fiorentino earlier proposed $16-million in spending cuts, including the elimination of the step increases.

On July 8, 2008, a new telecommunications building at district headquarters was dedicated. The building was designed to keep key instructional, business, and communications systems running in the event of a major hurricane.

On Aug. 19, 2008, which would have been the second day of school, schools were closed because of the threat from Tropical Storm Fay.

On Nov. 4, 2008, Superintendent Heather Fiorentino, the Republican candidate, was elected to a second term, defeating Steve Donaldson, the Democratic candidate. Donaldson was a social studies teacher at Gulf High School.

On Dec. 16, 2008, the union and the school district reached a tentative agreement on a new contract which kept salaries at the same level as the previous school year. Employees received no step increases, which are raises based solely on years of service in the district. The district had earlier announced cutbacks in expenditures because of decreased funding.

In July 2009 Superintendent Heather Fiorentino said that the district had cut back its instructional staff by about 250 positions in the past year and she said that she would not reintroduce those jobs unless enrollment surged again.

At the start of the 2010-11 school year, three new schools opened: Fivay High School and Connerton and Odessa elementary schools.

In May 2011 the union approved a contract for 2010-11 that provided no raises for the third year in a row. The district planned to announce layoffs because of budget cuts.

On Sept. 13, 2011, the school board gave final approval to its $1.04 billion 2011-12 budget, a spending plan that came about only after more than 500 jobs were eliminated, unpaid furlough days imposed on employees, and other spending cuts initiated.

On Oct. 4, 2011, Vice President Joe Biden spoke at Oakstead Elementary School in Land O’ Lakes, advocating passage of a jobs bill.

On Aug. 14, 2012, incumbent Schools Superintendent Heather Fiorentino lost the Republican primary race against Kurt S. Browning, a former Pasco County Elections Supervisor and Florida Secretary of State. Browning, who faced only a write-in candidate in the general election, was sworn in as Superintendent on Nov. 20, 2012.

In March 2013 schools superintendent Kurt Browning announced a plan to eliminate about 100 jobs in order to cut $23 million in spending for the coming school year. He said that he plans to eliminate of all media specialist and literacy coach jobs, moving people holding those positions into classrooms if they are certified. A Media Tech Assistant would be in charge of the media centers.

On Aug. 19, 2013, Crews Lake K-8 School opened. It is the first modern K-8 school in Pasco County history, combining the existing Crews Lake Middle School with Shady Hills Elementary School, which is temporarily closed for renovation. Quail Hollow Elementary School also closed for a two-year period for reconstruction; students attended wither Wesley Chapel Elementary or Watergrass Elementary school.

In August 2013 the school board and employee union reached an agreement on contracts for teachers and school-related personnel providing for raises for the first time in six years.

During the 2015-16 school year students at Anclote Elementary attended school at Gulf Middle School while their school was being rebuilt. The school year opened with the first magnet school, at Sanders Memorial Elementary School. Quail Hollow Elementary School opened in an entirely remodeled building.

The threat of high winds from hurricanes closed schools on Sept. 1 and 2, 2016, and on Oct. 7, 2016.

On Jan. 20, 2017, Adam Kennedy, the Principal of Crews Lake Middle School, was killed in a traffic accident.

In August 2017 Cypress Creek Middle High School opened off Old Pasco Road midway between SR 52 and SR 54. Students in grades 6 to 12 attend, but there was no senor class in the first year. Also opening on the same date was Bexley Elementary School at 4380 Ballantrae Boulevard in Land O’ Lakes.

All Pasco County schools were closed for six days in September 2017 because of Hurricane Irma. Many of the schools had been used as shelters.

On Nov. 7, 2017, the school board approved a plan to transform Ridgewood High School into a magnet technical high school for the 2018-19 school year. The timing of the closing of Ridgewood was to an extent forced by the state’s accountability program, as Ridgewood had earned a D grade in the previous two years and would have faced state intervention. On Dec. 19, 2017, the school board unanimously chose the name Wendell Krinn Technical High School for the new school.

In late 2018 the school board proposed to close Lacoochee Elementary School at the end of the 2018-19 school year and Mittye P. Locke Elementary School in 2020 and Hudson Elementary School School in 2021. However, on Dec. 18, 2018, the school board, by a 3-2 vote, rejected the plan to close Lacoochee Elementary School.

On Jan. 14, 2020, the school board voted to close Hudson Elementary School.

Schools were closed in late March 2020 because of the coronavirus spread. On March 31, 2020, the school district began a distance learning program with students using computers at home. High school proms were canceled and it was hoped that graduation ceremonies could take place in August.

Schools opened on Aug. 24, 2020, during the pandemic, with students having the option of in school or on-line learning. Cypress Creek Middle School opened on this date.

Schools opened on Aug. 10, 2021. Starkey Ranch K8 opened on this date. Hudson Middle opened as Hudson Academy and Northwesst Elementary opened as Hudson Primary Academy.

On Nov. 2, 2021, the school board voted to change school start times to allow for four bus runs instead of three because of the bus driver shortage, beginning in the second semester.


Date Name Remarks
July 8, 1887 Augustine H. Ravesies Information is here.
Jan. 9, 1889 Robert M. Ray Born in 1859 in Kentucky; resigned Sept. 23, 1896
Oct. 9, 1896 David O. Thrasher Born Aug. 28, 1848; a county judge; selected as Mayor of Dade City in 1905; died Apr. 12, 1912
Jan. 3, 1905 John Barnes Born June 30, 1864, near Lake Pasadena; died April 19, 1947, Tampa; taught at Prospect, New River, and Vereen schools earlier. The 1900 census shows him as a teacher living in St. Petersburg.
Jan. 5, 1909 Rev. Mozelle L. Gilbert Born in Kentucky in 1857. Appointed by the Governor as the first school board member in 1887; was chairman of the board for 12 years before becoming superintendent. Died in 1951. More information is here.
Jan. 7, 1913 James Wilton Sanders Born, Sept. 7, 1887, in Hawthorne, Fla. Taught in Levy, Marion, Sumter, Polk, and Pasco counties, and had four years experience as a high school principal before being elected superintendent at age 25. He was the Principal of the Zephyrhills school by 1912. After serving as superintendent, he became Principal of Dade City Grammar School. He became a judge in 1927. Died on Nov. 25, 1938. In 1948 Sanders Memorial Elementary School was named for him.
Jan. 4, 1921 Edmund Britton O’Berry Born in Blanton, Dec. 18, 1872; was a teacher for more than 30 years before being elected Superintendent three times
Jan. 3, 1933 Fred Owen Revels Born Nov. 18, 1886, in San Antonio, Fla. Was a candidate for superintendent in 1928, at which time he was superintendent of the high school in Trilby; taught for 20 years before being elected; was teaching in Hillsborough County and spending weekends at home in Dade City at the time of his election
Jan. 7, 1941 Walter C. Craig When elected in 1940 he was a trustee of the Dade City School; a 1948 newspaper article reported Craig had lived in Pasco County over 40 years.
Jan. 4, 1949 Mark St. Clair Born in Statesboro, Ga. Was a member of Gulf High School’s first graduating class in 1924. Was an assistant principal in Leesburg and the long-time principal at Lacoochee. Died in 1995 at age 90. His father taught at Gulf High School and other Pasco County schools; his mother was also a teacher.
Jan. 8, 1957 Chester W. Taylor Jr. Born in Sanford, but lived in Dade City most of his life; graduated from Pasco High School in 1942; World War II veteran; taught business and government at Pasco High School; resigned as Superintendent on Aug. 31, 1972, to take a position at Saint Leo College, where he taught in the 1970s and 1980s; died on Aug. 6, 2005, at age 80
Sept. 1, 1972 Fred K. Marchman Born, 1912. Taught at Gulf High School and was Principal of Pierce and Richey Elementary Schools. He was appointed interim superintendent by Governor Reubin Askew. Died in 2005. More about Marchman is here.
Jan. 2, 1973 Rodney B. Cox Cox was a naive of Bradfordsville, Ky. He came to Dade City from Pine Knot High School in Pine Knot, Ky., where he was athletic coach. He was a principal-teacher at the Trilby School before becoming a teacher at Dade City Grammar School. Cox was an unsuccessful candidate for superintendent in 1968. He was principal of Dade City Elementary School at the time of his election in 1972. He died of cancer in office on Mar. 20, 1973, at age 48. He held a master’s degree in administration and supervision of public schools from Western Kentucky University. His wife Betty was a teacher at Moore-Mickens Middle School in Dade City at the time of his election. His son Steve was the first Pasco High School graduate to return as an administrator. He retired as principal of Moore-Mickens Education Center in 2010.
Mar. 28, 1973 Raymond Bryant Stewart Appointed by Governor Askew on Mar 27, 1973. Was Principal of Zephyrhills High School for 9 years and taught also in Manatee County; sought election in 1974 but was defeated. Served in the state legislature. Died on May 25, 1986, at age 56
Nov. 15, 1974 Thomas E. Weightman Born in Pennsylvania; 1953 graduate of Pasco High School; attended Stetson University and Florida State University; taught at Pompano Beach Senior High School in Broward County; came to Gulf High School in 1961 as a teacher and coach and later became assistant principal; was principal of Gulf Junior High School until appointed assistant superintendent of Pasco County schools in 1973; appointed acting superintendent following the illness and subsequent death of Supt. Rodney Cox; was Principal of Cypress Elementary School when he announced his candidacy in 1974. Resigned Aug. 31, 1996. An interview with Weightman is on YouTube here.
Sept. 1, 1996 Dr. John Long Born in Wauchula on Sept. 20, 1946. He was appointed by the Governor on Sept. 1, 1996, and subsequently elected twice. Also served in the state legislature. Died on Oct. 26, 2005
Nov. 16, 2004 Heather Fiorentino Born in Columbia, S. C., Jan. 25, 1958; moved to Florida in 1976; married to Joseph Fiorentino III; was a teacher and state legislator; first elected to the House of Representatives in 1998; A. A. degree from Pasco-Hernando Community College, 1978; B. A. degree from USF, 1984; Locke Elementary Teacher of the Year, 1994; elected School Superintendent on Nov. 2, 2004
Nov. 20, 2012 Kurt S. Browning Born in Dade City, Aug. 22, 1958; elected Pasco County Supervisor of Elections in 1980 at age 22 and served in that position for 26 years; selected by Gov.-elect Charlie Crist as the 29th Florida Secretary of State in Dec. 2006; after briefly leaving Tallahassee in 2010, was selected by Gov.-elect Rick Scott to be the 32nd Florida Secretary of State in 2010, and held that position until Feb. 17, 2012. Graduated from Pasco High School in 1976; graduated from USF in 1982 with a bachelor of arts degree in Political Science; earned a master’s degree in Public Administration from USF in 1994. Married Kathy Jones in 1983.

Note: Beginning on Feb. 8, 1973, Thomas E. Weightman served briefly as acting superintendent during the illness of the superintendent.


Source: McCormick

No. Name of School Location Sec Twp Range
1 Ellerslie NW of Zephyrhills near Polk County line 4 miles S of Dade City on 35 A. 30-25-22
2 Willow Oak Discontinued in September 1887
4 Emmaus 2 miles W. of San Antonio where present county road barns stand. Cemetery still there. 4-25-20
5 Slaughter/Clay Sink Near Charlie Johnston home. NE of Dade City, 13 mi.
32 Indian Lake Just N of present Pasco-Hernando Jr. College.
9 Wesley Chapel E of Double Branch Baptist Church. Hwy. 54 W. 8-26-20
11 Fort Dade 1st. Academy N side of St. Joe Rd. Uphill from mud lake. NE from D. E. Hudson house. 2nd. Across from old Mobley home. 3rd. Across Roberts Barn Rd. 4th. Due south of Ft. Dade Mission about 1/2 mile. 30-24-20
13 Townsend House Near Hernando Co. line. Spring Lake, Hancock corner. 5-24-20
18 New Prospect Near Handcart Rd. S. edge of Gaskin settlement. 18-25-21
17 New River Due W of Zephyrhills
21 Baillie At the Baillie Settlement, later called Elfers
22 Hebron and Macon Became compromise between Dade and Trilby.
23 Hudson At Hudson east of cemetery 27-24-16
25 Clay Sink NE part of county 26-23-22
29 Owensboro At the RR crossing. Between Trilby and Blanton.
31 Matchet Lake Beside King Lake. Dr. Wirt’s old home.
32 Blanton Blanton 7-24-21 Moved over pm 2-24-20
36 Dade City 27-24-21
39 Clear Lake By old St. Leo Train Station. Was train station before became a school.
43 Oak Dale Oak Hill on River Road E of Dade City. 11-25-21
47 Richland Richland–Richland School Road.
54 Sumner Dade City
53 Vereen E of Hudson 30-24-17
57 Anclote W of Elfers
58 Macon First name for Trilby 27-23-21
59 Loyce About 3 miles N of Fivay Junction 9-24-18
51 River Land NE part of county. Became Slaughter. 28-23-22
66 Beulah Where brick school in San Antonio now stands.
68 Hatton Near Dade City
70 Baltree Pond . . .
73 Chipco Richard Hunt property now. S or SW of Blanton. 13-24-20
76 St. Thomas W of St. Joe. 28-24-20
77 Argo Merges with Bethlehem to become Vereen.
85 Gulf Key Aripeka
88 Port Richey Port Richey.
80 County Line Line between Pasco and Hillsborough, Oct. 1894. 2-24-19

In a separate table, McCormick shows Pasco School at 8-25-20, Loyce at 9-24-28, Fort Dade Academy at 30-24-21, and Enterprise at 5-24-22.

WHITE SCHOOLS (1915-1916)

Source: A 1915-1916 directory of schools in Florida, which appeared in The Florida Genealogist

Name of School Name of Principal and Teachers Post Office Pupils Enrolled Pupils above 8th grade
Slaughter Lester Mikell Riverland 19
Tucker Sophie Elslander Tucker 27 ..
Ellerslie Mrs. Ida Robinette Dade City 17 ..
Richland H. A. Hammer, Miss Ada Godwin, Miss Nola Jefferys Richland
Zephyrhills W. C. Finney, Miss Ruth Sumner, Miss Berdina Schenk, V. C. Mathews, Miss Frances Laughinhouse, Miss Lillie Geiger, Miss Uarda Briggs, Miss Marie Stewart, Miss Muriel Storms Zephyrhills 209 33
Childers Chas. Mikell Zephyrhills 24
Greer C. H. Martin, Miss Vera Martin Dade City 61
Sand Pond Miss Faye Caldwell Dade City 21
Oak Hill L. C. Carlton Dade City 26
Elba Heights Transported to Dade City
Trilby C. B. Fielding, Miss Mary Neal, Miss Corrine Jordan, Mrs. E. B. O’Berry Trilby 126 8
Blanton Miss Eugenia Shumate Blanton 29
Ft. Dade C. Lanier Dade City 22
St. Joseph Marie Therese San Antonio 26
San Antonio Marie Dilores, Marie Annunciatta San Antonio 44 2
Prospect E. S. Dew Dade City 19
Crystal Springs Mrs. Jessie Priest, Miss Fannie Croft Crystal Springs 42 3
Wesley Chapel E. D. Dodson, Mrs. E. D. Dodson, Marye Shearer Pasco 65
Matchet Lake Miss Gracia Reeder Pasco 15
Pasco Warren Bates, Miss Lottie Guy Pasco 46
Darby Miss Myrtle Johnson Dade City 26
Clay Sink Miss Corrine Tait Pasco 26
Ehren T. J. Garner, Miss Pearl Ford Ehren 44
Union Miss Sylvia Flint Zephyrhills 23
Myrtle Miss Blanche Claxon Lutz 17
Cootie River Harold Stephenson New Port Richey 11
Loyce Mrs. Nina Tracy Loyce 7
Odessa L. A. Penholster, Marvin Roberts Odessa 37
Anclote Miss Minnie Jones Anclote 25
Elfers C. W. Martin, Miss June Fuller, Miss Florence Morrish Elfers 69
Hudson D. Foster Hudson 27
Emmaus Carl Cripe Pasco 20
Port Richey Miss M. L. Liles Port Richey 25
Dade City P. W. Corr, Hattie Caldwell, Nina Percival, C. H. Smyth, Marjorie Mieghen, Jno. W. Gideons, Mrs. Antionette Martin, Miss Carrie L. Finney, W. Festus Cox, Miss Grace Farley, Miss Mildred Butts, Mrs. Lula Lattimore, Miss Edith Carter, Miss Nan G. Ward Dade City 349
Seven Springs Mrs. B. O. Baker Elfers 12
New Port Richey Miss Julia Harn New Port Richey 20

NEGRO SCHOOLS (1915-1916)

Source: A 1915-1916 directory of schools in Florida, which appeared in The Florida Genealogist

Name of School Name of Principal and Teachers Post Office Pupils Enrolled Pupils above 8th grade
Dade City J. D. Moore, Mattie Moore Dade City 104
Tucker Julia Lenox Tucker 55


School board records from Hernando County show the following Negro schools which may have been located in what would become Pasco County.

1884-85: Mount Pleasant, Brooksville Colored, Charles Settlement, Fort Taylor.

1885-86: Mount Pleasant, Brooksville Colored, Mount Olive, Fort Taylor.

1886-87: Russell Hill, Brooksville Colored, Fort Taylor, Mount Olive.


Booker T. Washington (b) 18
Dade City Grammar 594
Elfers 126
Floyd Academy (b) 99
Gulf High 286
Lacoochee 295
Moore Academy (b) 512
Pasco Elementary 517
Pasco High 614
Pasco Junior High 413
Pierce 253
Richland 18
Sanders Memorial 267
St. Joseph 52
Trilby 43
Zephyrhills Negro (b) 61
Zephyrhills 856

PRINCIPALS (1973-74)

Source: The 1973-74 personnel directory

Anclote Elementary School Lonnie G Tatum
Bayonet Point Junior High Gordon L Tucker
Rodney B Cox Elementary Charles E A Lease
Cypress Elementary School Thomas Weightman
East Zephyrhills Elementary James B Walker
Elfers Elementary School Mittye P Locke
Gulf Junior High School James E Campbell
Gulf Senior-High School Robert J Marsh
Hudson Elementary School David H Clark
Hudson Senior High School Coy W Pigman
Lacoochee Elementary School Randall Belcher
Land O’ Lakes Jr-Sr School H LeRoy McClain
Moore-Mickens Middle School O K Mickens
Northwest Elementary School Betty Crary
Pasco Comprehensive High Dr Wayne C Malone
Pasco Elementary School Dallas T Parker
Pasco Junior High School W G Andrews
Richey Elementary School W R Durden
Sanders Memorial School Marion Crawford
Schrader Elementary School Larry W Robison
Shady Hills Elementary Joseph A Souto
St Joseph School Sister Mildred Gelis
West Zephyrhills Elementary Ferd E Renninger
Zephyrhills High School James Davis


Source: District web site, Personnel Department

Anclote Elementary School Carole Baird
Bayonet Point Middle School Thomas Rulison
Calusa Elementary School Chip Wichmanowski
Centennial Elementary School Susan Rine
Cotee River Elementary School Joan Palma
Cypress Elementary School Dr. Sharyn Disabato
Deer Park Elementary School Margaret Lewis
Denham Oaks Elementary School Ruth Biggs
Energy & Marine Center Gary Perkins
F. K. Marchman Adult Education Center Carole Pearson
F. K. Marchman Technical Education Center Carole Pearson
Fox Hollow Elementary School Richard Tauber
Gulf High School Cheryl Renneckar
Gulf Middle School W. Greg Wright
Gulfside Elementary School Deborah Minshew
H. Schwettman Education Center W. Alan Knight
Headstart Center Jeanette Reilly
Hudson Elementary School John Shafchuk
Hudson High School Dr. Art O’ Donnell
Hudson Middle School Lawrence Albano
James Irvin Education Center Linda Montgomery
Lacoochee Elementary School Chuck Rine
Lake Myrtle Elementary School Monica Joiner
Land O’ Lakes High School Albert Bashaw
Mary Giella Elementary School Sherry Heyen
Mittye P. Locke Elementary School Dennis Taylor
Moon Lake Elementary School Kathleen Vito
Moore-Mickens Ed. Center Steven Cox
Northwest Elementary School Renee Sedlack
Pasco Elementary School Barbara Munz
Pasco High School Jackson Johnson
Pasco Middle School Patrick Reedy
Pine View Middle School Max Ramos
Quail Hollow Elementary School Ginny Yanson
R. B. Cox Elementary School Linda Rodriguez
R. B. Stewart Middle School Bruce Baldwin
Richey Elementary School Terri Mutell
Ridgewood High School Wendell Krinn
River Ridge Middle/High School Tina Tiede
Saddlebrook High School Larry Robison
San Antonio Elementary School Jean Johnson
Sanders Memorial Elementary School Marti Meacher
Schrader Elementary School Mary Stelnicki
Seven Springs Elementary School Dr. John Mann
Seven Springs Middle School Roni Sushko
Shady Hills Elementary School Linda Terry
T. E. Weightman Middle School Andrew Frelick
W. Zephyrhills Elementary School Jeanette Lovelace
Woodland Elementary School Randall Belcher
Zephyrhills High School James T. Davis


Anclote Elementary B. J. Smith 3610 Madison St / PO Box 446 New Port Richey 34652
Bayonet Point Middle Thomas Rulison 11125 Little Road New Port Richey 34654
Calusa Elementary Deborah Minshew 7520 Orchid Lake Road New Port Richey 34653
Centennial Elementary Chuck Rine 38501 Centennial Road Dade City 33525
Chester W. Taylor Elementary Fran McCrimmon 3638 Morris Bridge Road Zephyrhills 33543
Cotee River Elementary Carole Baird 7515 Plathe Road New Port Richey 34653
Cypress Elementary Dr. Sharyn Disabato 10055 Sweet Bay Court New Port Richey 34654
Deer Park Elementary Margaret Lewis 8636 Trouble Creek Rd New Port Richey 34654
Denham Oaks Elementary Dr. Carole Geibel 1422 Oak Grove Boulevard Land O’ Lakes 34639
F. K. Marchman Technical Center Carole Pearson 7825 Campus Drive New Port Richey 34653
Fox Hollow Elementary Richard Tauber 8309 Fox Hollow Drive Port Richey 34668
Gulf High Cheryl Renneckar 5355 School Road New Port Richey 34652
Gulf Middle Ray Bonti 6419 East Louisiana Avenue New Port Richey 34653
Gulfside Elementary John Shafchuk 2329 Anclote Blvd Holiday 34691
Harry Schwettman Education Center Randy Koenigsfeld 5520 Grand Boulevard New Port Richey 34652
Hudson Elementary Kathy Rushe 7229 Hudson Avenue Hudson 34667
Hudson High W. Greg Wright 14410 Cobra Way Hudson 34669
Hudson Middle Lawrence Albano 14540 Cobra Way Hudson 34669
James Irvin Education Center Alan Knight SR 52 Dade City 33525
Lacoochee Elementary Ky Grand 38815 Cummer Road Dade City 33525
Lake Myrtle Elementary Monica Joiner 22844 Weeks Blvd. Land O’ Lakes 34639
Land O’ Lakes High Max Ramos 20325 Gator Lane Land O’ Lakes 34639
Mary Giella Elementary Sherry Heyen 18000 Shady Hills Road Spring Hill 34610
Mittye P. Locke Elementary Dennis Taylor 4439 Evans Ave / PO Box 307 Elfers 34680
Moon Lake Elementary Kathleen Vito 12019 Tree Breeze Drive New Port Richey 34654
Moore Mickens Education Center Steve Cox 38301 Dr. M. L. King Jr. Blvd. Dade City 33525
Northwest Elementary Renee Sedlack 14302 Cobra Way Hudson 34669
Pasco Elementary Barbara Munz 37350 Florida Avenue Dade City 33525
Pasco High Jackson Johnson 36850 State Road 52 Dade City 33525
Pasco Middle Patrick Reedy 13925 14th Street Dade City 33525
Pine View Middle Dave Estabrook 5334 Parkway Boulevard Land O’ Lakes 34639
Quail Hollow Elementary Susan Glickman 7050 Quail Hollow Boulevard Wesley Chapel 33544
Raymond B. Stewart Middle Bruce Baldwin 38505 Tenth Avenue Zephyrhills 33540
Richey Elementary Terri Mutell 6807 Madison Street New Port Richey 34652
Ridgewood High Dr. Art O’ Donnell 7650 Orchid Lake Road New Port Richey 34653
River Ridge Middle/High Tina Tiede 11646 Town Center Road New Port Richey 34654
Rodney B. Cox Elementary Leila Mizer 37615 Dr. M. L. King Dr Dade City 33525
Saddlebrook High Larry Robison 5700 Saddlebrook Way Wesley Chapel 33543
San Antonio Elementary Jean Johnson 32416 Darby Road Dade City 33525
Sand Pine Elementary Ginny Yanson 29040 County Line Road Wesley Chapel 33543
Sanders Memorial Elementary Marti Meacher 5126 School Road Land O’ Lakes 34639
Schrader Elementary Mary Stelnicki 11041 Little Road New Port Richey 34654
Seven Springs Elementary Dr. John Mann 8025 Mitchell Ranch Rd. New Port Richey 34655
Seven Springs Middle Roni Sushko 2441 Little Rd. New Port Richey 34655
Shady Hills Elementary Linda Terry 18000 Shady Hills Road Spring Hill 34610
Thomas E. Weightman Middle Andrew Frelick 30649 Wells Road Zephyrhills 33544
West Zephyrhills Elementary Madonna Wise 37900 14th Avenue Zephyrhills 33541
Woodland Elementary Randall Belcher 38203 Henry Drive Zephyrhills 33540
Zephyrhills High James T. Davis 6335 12th Street Zephyrhills 33540


Source: School district web site, June 12, 2007

Anclote Elementary School Carole Baird
Bayonet Point Middle School Steve Knobl
Calusa Elementary School Deanna DeCubellis
Centennial Elementary School Scott Mitchell
Centennial Middle School Tom Rulison
Charles S. Rushe Middle School Dave Estabrook
Chasco Elementary School Dr. John Mann
Chasco Middle School Lawrence Albano
Chester W. Taylor Elementary School Eva Hunsberger
Cotee River Elementary School Barbara Kleinsorge
Cypress Elementary School Teresa Love
Deer Park Elementary School John Shafchuk
Denham Oaks Elementary School Nancy D. Waters
Double Branch Elementary School Peggy Lewis
Dr. John Long Middle School Beth Brown
F. K. Marchman Technical Center Shelia D. Bryan
Fox Hollow Elementary School Lisa Miller
Gulf High School Thomas Imerson
Gulf Highlands Elementary School Margie Polen
Gulf Middle School Stan Trapp
Gulf Trace Elementary School Hope Schooler
Gulfside Elementary School Chris Clayton
Harry Schwettman Education Center Mimi Foster
Hudson Elementary School Linda McCarthy
Hudson High School David LaRoche
Hudson Middle School Steve Vangorden
J. W. Mitchell High School Ric Mellin
James Irvin Education Center Rick Saylor
James M. Marlowe Elementary School Terri Mutell
Lacoochee Elementary School A. Karen Marler
Lake Myrtle Elementary School E. John Abernathy
Land O’ Lakes High School Monica Ilse
Longleaf Elementary School Arlene Moreno-Bodden
Mary Giella Elementary School Cara Allen
Mittye P. Locke Elementary School Tammy Berryhill
Moon Lake Elementary School Donna Busby
Moore Mickens Education Center Steve Cox
New River Elementary School Lynn Pabst
Northwest Elementary School Tracy Graziaplene
Oakstead Elementary School Tammy Kimpland
Pasco Elementary School Barbara Munz
Pasco High School Patrick Reedy
Pasco Middle School James Lane
Paul R. Smith Middle School Dr. Chris Dunning
Pine View Elementary School Monica R. Joiner
Pine View Middle School Kim Anderson
Quail Hollow Elementary School Michelle Berger
Raymond B. Stewart Middle School Jackson Johnson
Richey Elementary School Ken Miesner
Ridgewood High School Randy Koenigsfeld
River Ridge High School Jim Michaels
River Ridge Middle School Jason Joens
Rodney B. Cox Elementary School Leila Mizer
San Antonio Elementary School Vanessa Hilton
Sand Pine Elementary School Ginny Yanson
Sanders Memorial Elementary School Mardee Powers
Schrader Elementary School Mary Stelnicki
Seven Oaks Elementary School B.J. Smith
Seven Springs Elementary School Vicki Garner
Seven Springs Middle School Chris Christoff
Shady Hills Elementary School Tom Barker
Sunlake High School Angie Stone
Sunray Elementary School Yvonne Romero
Thomas E. Weightman Middle School Shae Davis
Trinity Elementary School Kathryn Rushe
Trinity Oaks Elementary School Allison Hoskins
Wesley Chapel Elementary School Cynthia Harper
Wesley Chapel High School Andrew Frelick
West Zephyrhills Elementary School Emily Keene
Wiregrass Ranch High School Ray Bonti
Woodland Elementary School Steven Rinck
Zephyrhills High School Gerri L. Painter

front page