Lithia Springs Elementary School in Valrico received a new air conditioning system.

As of last month, Hillsborough County Public Schools (HCPS) had collected more than $31 million from the Half-Penny Sales Tax Referendum passed by voters in November of 2018. According to school district officials, 102 projects are taking place over the summer throughout the county, including a new air conditioning unit and other upgrades at Lithia Springs Elementary School in Valrico.

“Currently we have 21 air conditioner overhauls or replacements and 13 new roofs being completed,” said Tanya Arja, Hillsborough County Public Schools Media Outreach.

“We look at the age of the equipment, the last time there was a major upgrade to the system and the number of work orders sent in by a school,” she said. “Over the past three years, we have had more than 250 maintenance requests from Lithia Springs Elementary, which was operating with air conditioning equipment from 1992.”

HCPS has put together five and 10-year plans organizing and prioritizing the projects, but adjustments will be made to the list if there is a major breakdown or increase in work orders.

“The list is reviewed by the roofing department for synergy with their projects and with planning and construction before a final determination is made on which projects are going to be completed,” said Arja.

So far, more than $5.6 million has been spent on school projects and in the first year, in addition to the new roofs and air conditioners, 50 playgrounds, tracks and athletic courts are expected to be replaced, 31 painting and carpeting projects should be completed and more than $1 million will be invested in school security.

“Over the next 10 years, funds from the half-penny tax will overhaul or replace A/C systems at 203 schools,” said Arja. “Each summer, our district expects to complete approximately 20 major school air conditioning projects as the funds are generated by sales across the county.”

In addition to the air conditioners, HCPS’ 10-year plan includes more than 1,700 projects, such as 63 aging roof replacements, $23 million in safety and security improvements, $25 million in classroom technology upgrades and the building of four new schools to relieve overcrowding. At least $500,000 will be invested in each school.

“Since the moment school ended, our teams have been hard at work delivering on our half-penny promise,” said Arja.

For the latest updates on referendum projects and a list of schools on the five and 10-year plans, visit

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Kate Quesada
Assignment Editor Kate Quesada started working at the Osprey Observer in 2004 after graduating from the University of South Florida with a masters degree in Mass Communications. Since then, she has held various positions at the paper and has been working as the assignment editor since January 2020. She lives in Lithia with her husband Mike and sons Dylan and Max and stays active in the community on school PTA boards and volunteering with local organizations.