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What to know about Hillsborough County's plans to change school boundaries

back of a school bus from the outside
Hillsborough County Schools
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The district is urging the public to share feedback about the proposals and will announce a decision in late February.

The district is weighing three different scenarios that could shutter schools and affect thousands of students and staff.

As many as 24,000 students in Hillsborough County could be shifted to new schools next year under redistricting proposals officials are considering.

A virtual engagement period is underway and in-person meetings will be held next month so the community can weigh in.

The district is considering three scenarios that could affect about 100 schools or more but also result in millions of dollars in savings, according to Hillsborough County Public Schools Superintendent Addison Davis.

The goal of the plan is to improve efficiency within the district and address imbalances in enrollment. Right now, Davis said, some schools are overcrowded while others are operating well below capacity.

“When we look at schools that are being overutilized, those are ones operating at 110% (capacity) or greater, and underutilized is 60% or under, and we have 24 schools that must be addressed,” Davis explained.

The most aggressive scenario the district is exploring would shutter seven schools, or “fully repurpose” them, while partially repurposing several others. Students and staff would have to switch to nearby campuses, allowing the district to use freed up space for other initiatives.

Some ideas Davis shared included training or bilingual services centers, administrative offices and affordable housing for staff.

That plan would affect about 24,000 kids, while the least aggressive scenario would affect closer to 11,000 students and only involve fully repurposing three schools.

“We've got to do a better job of leveraging and maximizing our facilities but at the same continue to make sure that if we move students from one location to the next, they continue to have a high-quality education experience every single day,” Davis said.

A man in a blue suit talks into a microphone. There are children's books behind him.
Hillsborough County School District
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Hillsborough Schools TV
Hillsborough County School District Superintendent Addison Davis spoke at the Dorothy C. York Innovation Academy on Aug. 3 to welcome new students this upcoming school year.

Teachers and school staff would not lose their jobs under any scenario, Davis stressed. The district would also provide support to students, families and staff affected by the move before and after they transition.

Adjusting the boundaries could save the district anywhere from $147 million to $194 million in combined capital and operating expenses, Davis said.

“Those are all dollars that we can go back and address deferred maintenance or expand innovative solutions, and then also we could go back and try to properly compensate our employees” Davis said, acknowledging expenses associated with the changes could eat into the savings.

For example, Hillsborough Schools is paying New York consultant WXY Studio about $500,000 for developing these recommendations.

How to learn more

Davis acknowledges the plans could disrupt the lives of thousands of families. He's urging the public to explore the proposals online and share feedback about them in the comments section.

The district is also hosting 10 in-person meetings at various high schools the week of Jan. 9-13. Community members will be able to view boundary maps, submit feedback through the interactive tool, and speak with members from the HCPS and consultant project team.

“While we have three scenarios recommended. This could change and I hope there is somewhat of a fourth scenario that’s a hybrid model that the [school] board might bring to the table,” Davis said. “So we just want as much feedback as we can to make the best decision for the district.”

The district plans to make a final decision in late February.

You can explore how the plans might affect your community and share feedback with the district through this online tool.

Here's a schedule of in-person engagement events, each running from 5:30p-8:30p:

Monday, Jan. 9, 2023

Middleton High School, 4801 N. 22nd St., Tampa

Plant City High School, One Raider Place, Plant City

Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023

Brandon High School, 1101 Victoria St., Brandon

Sumner High School, 10650 County Rd. 672, Riverview

Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023

Plant High School. 2415 S. Himes Ave., Tampa

Leto High School, 4409 W. Sligh Ave., Tampa

Thursday, Jan. 12, 2023

Gaither High School, 16200 N Dale Mabry Hwy., Tampa

Sickles High School, 7950 Gunn Hwy., Tampa

Friday, Jan. 13, 2023

Bloomingdale High School, 1700 E. Bloomingdale Ave., Valrico

Wharton High School, 20150 Bruce B. Downs Blvd., Tampa

I cover health care for WUSF and the statewide journalism collaborative Health News Florida. I’m passionate about highlighting community efforts to improve the quality of care in our state and make it more accessible to all Floridians. I’m also committed to holding those in power accountable when they fail to prioritize the health needs of the people they serve.