TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) —The last day of school is often a celebration as kids gear up for the summer ahead. But for students at one elementary school in Tampa, it was sad goodbye—after the school board voted to shut it down earlier this month..
Just Elementary was the only school in the district to receive an “F” grade from the state in 2022. That paired with plummeting enrollment lead the school board to vote to shut it down.
“A lot of history from over there,” said Akeem “Benjie” Barnes, who lives a block away from the school.
It was a sad day for community members like Barnes who went to school there in the 1960s when it was Just Junior High School.
“Growing up over here, it changed a lot,” he said. “Then they started shutting those projects down moving people God knows where, but that took a lot from that school because a majority of the kids that grew up over there went to that school.”
But the fight isn’t over just yet.
The school district is now forming a committee to figure out the best use for Just Elementary moving forward, something Hillsborough County NAACP President Yvette Lewis hopes is a school that will serve this community.
“Have the resources for the kids, have qualified teachers, [and] have full staff,” she explained. “It will look like a school is supposed to look like in Hillsborough County.”
“What will that mean to the people who live around here?” asked 8 On Your Side reporter Nicole Rogers
“That means that a promise was kept,” Lewis said. “That means someone was listening. That means there’s something better for our students.”
Superintendent Addison Davis wants to reopen the school in a year or two, transitioning the school to a Montessori focus starting with early childhood and gradually adding grade levels.
But Lewis says it’s up to the community to ensure this school isn’t lost forever.