Hillsborough County faces pressure to build new schools

Long Range Plan says 23-38 schools needed

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. - The pressure to build more new schools is building as the southern part of Hillsborough County is growing fast.

The Hillsborough County Schools Long Range School Planning study predicts the district will need anywhere between 23 and 38 new schools over the next 15 years.

For Justin Stanton, who moved his family to Riverview two years ago, he says more schools are needed.

"Buildings left and right," he said. "Schools are getting overwhelmed."

The Long Range School Planning Study was commissioned by the school distrct and created by Tindale Oliver, a transportation, community planning and design, transit and public finance firm. Their workers crunched the numbers to give the district a better idea of what will be needed longterm.

Under the "probable" scenario, the Long Range plan predicts of the 38 new schools, 31 will be in the southern part of Hillsborough County. The majority would be elementary schools. There would be 25 elementary schools, five middle schools and 8 high schools, according to the Long Range plan.

This scenario suggests Hillsborough County Schools will start building schools when school reaches 150 percent of its capacity. This will reduce the need to redistrict and add portables, according to the Long Range plan.

However, school board members are now left trying to figure out how to pay for the new schools that are needed.

"This is a community issue," said Susan Valdes, Hillsborough County School Board member.

"There has to be a buy in from our community that education has a priority in this community and until that happens, I think the district can only stretch a dollar so far," said Sally Harris, Hillsborough County School Board member.

A new elementary school costs about $20M to build, a Tindale Oliver representative told board members. The overall pricetag for the "probable" scenario is around $1.2 billion.

Under the "probable" scenario, the district would build about 2.5 new schools a year for 15 years.

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