By Tamas Mondovics

Already approved residential growth that is expected to generate additional students has prompted Hillsborough County Public Schools officials to inform adjacent property owners and area residents about the district’s plans to build a new high school in Ruskin/Balm in the South County Area.

The neighborhood meeting held on Tuesday, November 7 at Shields Middle School, 15732 Beth Shields Way, Ruskin, collected input from residents on the proposed site for the new school. Attendees were also given facts, and future next steps the district is planning to take in the process.

According to school officials, the future high school is projected to open in August 2020. The nearly 47-acre proposed site is located on CR 672 (Balm Rd.) east of U.S. 301, within the East Bay High School attendance boundary across from the Ayersworth and Mirabella subdivision.

County Road 672 is the dividing line between attendance boundaries of East Bay and Lennard High School.

District officials emphasized that the new school will provide the needed relief to high schools in the area. Currently, nearby Lennard and East Bay High Schools are at or over capacity; 116 percent, and 92 percent respectively. Attendance boundaries are yet to be established along with the school’s name, a process to be followed by the School Board’s Policy 7250.

One of the most concerning topics for all projects within the county is transportation and traffic impacts, which according to HCPS, are a continual process.

“Our District will continue to work with Hillsborough County to address traffic management,” HCPS officials said.

Working with the county includes a major modification to change the current zoning, which has been filed with Hillsborough County. The change would allow the proposed site to be used as a high school.

Future steps in connection with the project include detailed architectural and site plan; collaborating with Hillsborough County on traffic management; educational programming; principal selection; school naming; bus routes, and attendance boundaries and public outreach.

HCPS officials are encouraging residents to share their input on the proposing the coming year.

For more information about Hillsborough County Public Schools please visit, www.sdhc.k12.fl.us.