TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – It was standing-room-only at the Hillsborough County School Board meeting on Tuesday afternoon. As the new superintendent, Addison Davis, prepared to sign his contract, dozens of moms and dads lined up to address board members face to face.
Parents were fired up and frustrated over two major topics that affect their children in Hillsborough County schools – overcrowding and school boundaries.
Right now, the Bay Area is experiencing a growth explosion in nearly all counties, with Pasco and Hillsborough seeing the biggest increase.
However, with a population increase in families moving to Tampa Bay, there’s also a need for more schools.
And, with campuses already crowded, there’s often little room at existing schools.
Parents spoke out about their concerns regarding two proposals involving several middle schools in Hillsborough County including Barrington, Rodgers and Giunta.
Some moms and dads do not like the idea of new boundaries being drawn with their kids “being forced,” they say, to attend new schools.
Parents are also upset as they describe some school as “struggling” campuses.
“Upsetting, upsetting, very upsetting,” said Catherine Xavier.
The mother of two was in tears Tuesday as she told board members, “I do understand that it’s overcrowded, but it’s not something unknown to us.”
Her daughter, Elizabeth, attends Barrington Middle School in Lithia.
She begged the board to keep kids in their current campuses. “I think every mother wants the best education for their children that they can have.”
However, some parents say they want change if it helps with the issue of overcrowding.
Board members admit this issue is one that keeps them up at night.
They told parents this is a difficult decision and extremely frustrating. School leaders also admit they know the proposals being discussed are touchy topics, and some people will be left unhappy in the end.
One dad, Jason Depew, told 8 on your Side, “It’s frustrating, it’s really awful. But, I feel like our government is responsible for looking at the long term solution.”
The school board released the following scenarios regarding the proposals being discussed:
Scenario A would move Pod 1 (on our maps on our website) from Barrington to Rodgers. This would reassign 223 students from Barrington to Rodgers Barrington is currently at 109% capacity. This proposal would move Barrington to 97% capacity. Rodgers is currently at 67% capacity. This proposal would move Rodgers to 76% capacity.
Scenario B would have moved all of Panther Trace into Rodgers and move the Kingswood area (north of the Alafia River) from Rodgers to Giunta This would reassign 354 students from Barrington to Rodgers, and 139 students from Rodgers to Giunta. This would have made Barrington 85% capacity and move Rodgers to 70% capacity.
Board members will discuss this again on March 10th when they cast their final vote.
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