Chalklines: Consultant Predicts Need For 11 Elementary, 3 Middle And 6 New High Schools For Hillsborough

Story by Tamas Mondovics

Local Home School Group Hosts First Annual International Cultural Fair

Bloomingdale and surrounding area home school students and their families with Brighter Light Learning, filled the recently renovated community meeting room at the Bloomingdale Regional Library last month to host the group’s first annual International Cultural Fair.

Organized by the parents, the students managed to feature, display as well as offer a brief presentation on nearly a dozen countries of their choice.

Presentations included photos, crafts and in most cases a taste of traditional ethnic foods representing each country.

To allow home school students additional opportunities for association and interaction Brighter Light Learning holds regular monthly craft fairs and field trips as well as weekly play time at local parks and community centers. Brighter Light is currently in the process of building its website, brighterlightgroup.com.

Study Projects The Need For Three Dozen New Schools By 2030 At A High Cost

With the projected population growth within the borders of the nation’s eighth largest school district, Hillsborough County Public Schools (HCPS) has plenty on its future to do list.

According to school officials, a recent study by Tindale Oliver, a consulting firm, reviewed multiple sources of data to make projections based on trends in population growth rates, student generation rates, planned and proposed development, existing capacity, the cost of debt and maintenance and the estimated cost of building new schools.

The study reportedly took into account the role of charter schools which can mitigate the need for new schools.
By the numbers, officials said that over the next 15 years, Hillsborough County is projected to grow at an annual rate of 1.3 percent, bringing in an estimated 10,000 new homes per year and roughly 5,400 new students every year, with most of the growth expected in South Hillsborough County, followed by north Plant City.

Tindale’s report estimates that a minimum of 11 new elementary schools, three new middle schools and six new high schools will be needed in South Hillsborough County alone, not to mention current and future school renovations and deferred maintenance. As for the cost of all of this, the long range study reportedly estimates that current impact fees will only fund half of the bare minimum number of schools that will be needed in the future.

“School infrastructure is very expensive and requires in-depth planning and an investment in the future,” said Steve Tindale during the school board workshop.     
 
The report indicates the district will need to build between 23-38 schools or a minimum of 1.5 new schools per year between 2018-2032 to accommodate student enrollment.

With an average cost between $20 and 60 million dollars per school, over the next 15 years, construction is expected to cost approximately $1billion. Maintaining older school buildings for safety and functionality is expected to cost $2.51 billion during the same time period. 

School officials emphasized that adding to the challenge of equalizing growth is that redrawing boundaries is unlikely to resolve the need for more schools because of the great majority of the projected growth is in the southern part of the county, while the underpopulated schools are located in the northern communities.
“No matter how we shuffle boundaries, we don’t have enough classroom seats given the projected numbers,” Tindale said in the release.

In part, school board members asked district staff to seek creative solutions such as the possibility of leasing space for new schools in addition to constructing new schools.
“We know growth is coming,” said Superintendent Jeff Eakins. “Impact fees will only go so far. We need to ask, what’s next.”

For information visit sdhc.k12.fl.us.