TAMPA, Fla.— — On Thursday, Hillsborough County Public School leaders gave an update on the district’s referendum spending and how tax dollars were hard at work funding projects for local schools.
As of this month, the district says it’s invested more than $246 million into its schools, with 80 percent of the projects awarded to local businesses and 25 percent awarded to small and minority-owned businesses.
“This project will allow us over a ten-year referendum to be able to create 1,700+ new initiatives and projects in our schools to be able to create a competitive, modernized element where our children have a sense of pride every single day,” said Hillsborough County Schools Superintendent Addison Davis.
Over the ten year referendum, the district says it plans to overhaul more than 200 A/C units, fix more than 60 roofs, and plans to invest $23 million in upgrading safety and security systems, as well as dedicate $25 million to new classroom technology.
On Thursday morning, school leaders highlighted work being done at both Freedom High and Liberty Middle Schools. ABC Action News asked the Superintendent if projects would be possible without referendum dollars.
“Openly, the answer is no. We have replaced so many A/Cs, roofing, added new flooring, really updated our facilities. There’s just no way,” said Davis.
The district has 14 major projects planned this summer. School board chair Lynn Gray explained that the referendum also addresses the learning environment.
“The better that we have not only the aesthetics, but the comfort level of air conditioning, and the security level of the various security measures, the safer our children are, and the better that they will learn,” said Gray.
The district also shared they’ve been conservative in project planning and have reduced work by 30 percent due to the economic impact from COVID-19.
“We want the community to feel that the money that they’re extending to public education and for this particular project that’s identified on the ballot is genuinely being used in a manner in which it should be used, and it’s for our children, so it’s always a win,” said Davis.