HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Hillsborough County Public Schools hosted its first two community meetings on Monday evening on the proposed rezoning that could result in up to 24,000 students switching schools.
“Everybody has a unique situation,” Bob Flaherty said. “I’m just here to speak on behalf of my daughter.”
Flaherty said he did his research on HCPS before moving from Buffalo to the Riverview area last summer.
“100 percent,” he said, “that is the sole reason we purchased the home in the area we purchased it for that school specifically.”
If the school board approves any of the three proposed boundary changes, Flaherty’s daughter would have to switch from Newsome High School to either Sumner High School or Riverview High School.
“So this is a huge impact for my family personally,” Flaherty said. “It’s not even about the resale value of my house if I ever sell it someday. It’s about my daughter’s education and keeping her where she is.”
During the community meeting at Plant City High School, Chief of Operations Chris Farkas told the parents in attendance the three scenarios school board members are considering are not set in stone.
“And every single time there ends up being another iteration of it,” Farkas said. “We get feedback from the community and the community tells us this doesn’t work or have you thought about it this way.”
Farkas also explained how zoning changes targeting under-enrolled and overcrowded schools could help the district save money.
“If we’re able to repurpose a school and don’t need a principal or an assistant principal or a guidance counselor there and they can go work in a vacancy over there, that’s a savings,” Farkas said. “If we don’t have a student nutrition staff because we’re not serving lunches it’s now an office building, that’s a saving.”
While Flaherty is hopeful school leaders will listen to feedback from him and other parents, he said he understands why the district is exploring big changes to its school boundaries.
“From what I understand (the schools) are overcrowded and there are changes that need to take place,” he said. “I get it.
Parents, including a group from South Tampa that are opposed to changes to the Plant High School zone, are expected to take their concerns directly to school board members during public comment at Tuesday afternoon’s regular meeting.
Superintendent Addison Davis said he is encouraging parents to go online and provide feedback. He expects to make a recommendation to the school board by the end of the month.