With the projected population growth within the borders of the nation’s eighth larges 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. 

“We know growth is coming,” said Superintendent, Jeff Eakins. “Impact fees will only go so far. We need to ask, what’s next.”

For more information please visit www.sdhc.k12.fl.us.

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