HILLSBOROUGH CO., FL. - 1,000 new homes are coming to the North Hyde Park area and it’s causing headaches for the Hillsborough County Public Schools. Now, they have to figure out how to fit future new students in an already over-crowded neighborhood.
Without just up and building a brand new school, HCPS does not have many options. Right now, the district is looking to re-draw the school attendance boundaries as a way to accommodate the more than 250 new students they’re expecting to get.
Due to current capacity shortages and overcrowding at Gorrie Elementary (112 percent of capacity); Wilson Middle (113 percent of capacity) and Plant High (95 percent of capacity), along with continued future growth already approved within these school attendance boundaries, Hillsborough County School planners say it is necessary to adjust the boundaries to balance enrollments.
The school district is proposing to reassign this area from Gorrie, Wilson and Plant to Just, Madison and Blake, effective for the 2017-18 school year. These school zones are consistent with the downtown Tampa and the Channelside areas attendance zones, the district said.
Within a relatively small geographic area, generally described as: south of Kennedy Blvd; north of the Selmon Expressway; west of the Hillsborough River and east of South Boulevard, there are three approved unbuilt residential developments totaling over 1,000 residential units, district leaders said.
Based upon countywide student generation rates, these projects could generate over 250 students who cannot be accommodated at their assigned schools, school planners said.
"They will have a huge impact on these three schools if students move into them," said Lorraine Duffy Suarez, who works on growth and planning issues for Hillsborough County Schools.
She said it is necessary for the district to take action now to prevent further overcrowding.
"We're getting out in front of it," Duffy Suarez said. "I think families can be assured that we are trying to resolve problems before they even become a problem."
Currently there are no students attending public schools within this geographic area. No current Plant, Gorrie or Wilson students will be affected, school leaders said. Only students who will be living in the three proposed new developments will be affected by the rezoning.
ABC Action News spoke with one of the developers of Lafayette Place, one of the three new proposed housing developments near the Hillsborough River. John LaRocca, Senior vice president for Hillsborough River Realty Co., said it was too premature to comment on the rezoning now, as the development has not been constructed yet and no families have been affected yet.