TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – It is a major decision that could force thousands of students to change schools and affect home values across Hillsborough County.
The first school board vote on the redistricting proposals is set for next Tuesday’s meeting.
With one week to go until the highly anticipated vote, Anand Prasad and his wife from Tampa’s North Bon Air neighborhood spoke during public comment Tuesday afternoon.
“We don’t have kids yet,” Prasad said, “but we’re here because we like to plan ahead and we’re also here for our neighbors.”
His neighbors have organized their own meetings, emailed board members and submitted comments online about the two scenarios that rezone their children to lower-rated schools.
They said they feel like the superintendent listened to their feedback when he made his recommendation. None of their children would be zoned out of highly rated Plant High School and Coleman Middle School.
“Scenario 4 was created based on that feedback so it may not be perfect but it can quickly address capacity and financial issues,” parent Danielle Caci said during her public comment.
Superintendent Addison Davis told News Channel 8 the projected annual savings from his plan are more than $14 million.
But at last week’s school board workshop, Chair Nadia Combs said Scenario 4 isn’t aggressive enough.
“We will be back here in two or three years,” Combs said. “So those families that feel relieved you’re not touched this time do not think it’s sustainable.”
Parents like Caci fired back.
“Some were seemingly criticized for standing up for our children and there was talk about going back to other scenarios that didn’t have broad community support,” she said about the workshop.
While South Tampa families are all in on Scenario 4, some parents from the county’s northernmost schools are not.
Two moms from Turner/Bartels K-8 school said it does not solve the issue of more than 200 middle school students being bussed from the Fletcher and University of South Florida area to near the Pasco County line.
“They’re spending some days 45 minutes on the bus each way and if Scenario 4 goes forward they’ll stay doing that,” parent Holley Townsend told the school board.
The school district boundary website said Davis’ plan saves the district more than $5.3 million in transportation costs and “reduces the distance students travel to school by 39,862 miles.”
There will be another round of public comment next Tuesday before the first school board vote on the proposed boundary changes.
Families can also attend community meetings Wednesday night at Webb Middle School and Thursday night at Madison Middle School and Chamberlain High Schools.