TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Hillsborough County parents, students and teachers are anxious to find out if enough school board members are prepared to move forward with boundary changes that could shuffle thousand of students to new schools.
The school board has called a special meeting for 10 a.m. Tuesday.
“At some point, they need to make a decision,” parent Jerry Boyle said.
For the past three months, Boyle and parents from the North Bon Air and Westshore Palms neighborhoods have mobilized against rezoning scenarios that move their children to lower-rated schools in South Tampa.
“They moved to these two neighborhoods because they were more affordable than things south of here and because of the great schools,” Boyle said.
Superintendent Addison Davis’ recommendation would keep Boyle’s children on track to attend top-rated Plant High School.
“If there’s a change,” Boyle said, “they will not have the same opportunities they current have.”
According to Davis, his plan addresses enrollment issues at very overcrowded and underutilized schools, while moving few students to new schools than in other scenarios.
“This moves 15,000 kids and it also stabilizes the school district for five years, according to Superintendent Davis, and you get those financial savings,” Boyle said.
While Davis’ plan would save nearly $14 million a year, some board members have said it doesn’t save enough money and that it could disproportionately impact students of color.
“Our job is to make sure for that amount of savings the impact that we’re looking at having on our students’ lives and our families’ lives is worth that much money,” said District 3 Board Member Jessica Vaughn at last Tuesday’s school board meeting.
In Carrollwood, there is support for the superintendent’s plan.
“We want a K-8 whether it goes through or it doesn’t we will still be fighting for that K-8,” parent Brittany Cooper said.
Several moms from Carrollwood tell News Channel 8 that too many students are leaving the district because there is not a strong middle school option in their community.
“We see that Carrollwood (Elementary) is doing a great job, we see that Chamberlain (High School) is doing a great job and we want to help bridge that gap in between to keep these kids and to give them an opportunity to stay in the public school system,” parent Krista Mills said.
The special board meeting on Tuesday morning will begin with public comment.
Board members could call for and vote on the superintendent’s recommendation or one of the other three scenarios developed by a consulting firm.
There is a possibility that board members call for a motion to delay this critical vote to a later date.
If there are four votes in support of any of the boundary change proposals, the board members will come back for a final vote in two weeks.