TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The battle of school rezoning in Hillsborough County is heating up.
Frustrated South Tampa families filled the Plant High School auditorium for a boundary analysis presentation by Superintendent Addison Davis.
The parents say they are worried about their property values and their children having to switch schools during their high school years.
They are urging the school board to reject two proposals that would change the boundary for one of the best public high schools in Tampa Bay.
“Do you feel like they’re listening to you and other parents’ concerns?” News Channel 8 asked parent Michele Smith.
“I hope so,” she said. “I truly hope so. It’s our children’s futures in their hands.”
Smith and her husband are raising their 11-year-old son Liam in the same home where she grew up in Tampa’s North Bon Air neighborhood.
“I went to Grady (Elementary School) and Coleman (Middle School) and then all my friends went to Plant and I was forced to go to Jefferson,” Smith said.
She doesn’t want the same fate for her son.
“It’s going to change my life and everything we’ve worked for,” Liam said.
Two of the proposed boundary changes would require Smith’s son to attend “C” rated Jefferson High School rather than “A” rated Plant High School.
“It doesn’t have as much AP classes and then on top of all that it doesn’t have any of the electives I want to do which is coding and engineering,” Liam said.
With their signs saying ‘no to scenarios 2 and 3,’ Liam and his parents joined hundreds of concerned families at the meeting that got testy at times with parents interrupting Superintendent Davis.
Davis explained the district is trying to save millions of dollars, repurpose underutilized schools and lessen overcrowding at schools like Plant.
“The passion was great,” Smith said. “I don’t like the format. I think we should be able to ask questions live.”
Families from the Beach Park neighborhood are protesting proposal three, which could force up to 24,000 students across the district to change schools.
“We really feel like OK, three divides our entire neighborhood almost in half and takes all these kids to Jefferson,” said Paula Perry, a spokesperson for the Beach Park neighborhood.
Dr. Stacy Hahn represents the Plant High School families on the Hillsborough County School Board.
“I can tell you that I am fighting every day to make sure District 2 families stay in District 2 schools,” she said.
Hahn points out she just has one vote on the boundary maps and she’s encouraging South Tampa families to share their concerns with all of the school board members.
The board will gather for an important workshop about rezoning on Jan. 31.