Randall Middle and Bevis Elementary Schools are benefitting from the money raised from Hillsborough County’s half-penny tax with improvements this summer.

The Hillsborough County School District (HCSD) used the student break to perform many much-needed upgrades thanks to funds from the half-penny sales tax approved by voters in late 2018. Schools throughout the county, including two in the FishHawk area, received air conditioning improvements since the students left the buildings in March.

“Thanks to the taxpayers of Hillsborough County, our district has invested more than $121,000,000 to address essential needs in our schools,” said HCSD’s Erin Maloney. “With students and staff physically off campuses since March, it has allowed construction crews access to get ahead of schedule on planned major A/C and roofing projects in our schools. Despite the slowdown of some equipment delivery and lower-than-projected sales tax revenue, our district is still on track to planned projected for this year.”

Twenty-six schools throughout the county received improvements this summer, including Randall Middle School and Bevis Elementary School.

According to Randall Principal Claire Mawhinney, the work was extensive in some areas of the school with the replacement of air handlers and ductwork in multiple areas.

“The company lead says that the A/C will be ready for students when they arrive,” she explained. “Having a comfortable learning environment is essential. The HVAC work will benefit our students, families and staff.”

Bevis Elementary also received new air conditioning units this summer, replacing units that were original from when the school opened more than 20 years ago.

“The project consisted of all-new rooftop units as well as replacing and upgrading the controls, ductwork and insulation in areas around the school,” said Principal Becky Thoms.

According to Maloney, normal repairs and maintenance projects that are typically funded through existing property tax millage also continued.

“This funding provides a new source of revenue, accelerating projects that otherwise would not have been tackled for many years into the future or may not have been able to be completed at all,” said Maloney.

The referendum proceeds can be used only for permanent capital purchases including buildings, maintenance, technology and security.

“We are so thankful for the new air conditioning project,” said Thoms. “Receiving the money from the Hillsborough County Tax Referendum allowed us to move forward on this project and provide optimal conditions for our staff and students to work and learn.”

To learn more about the half-penny tax and how it is being used by the school district, visit www.sdhc.k12.fl.us. A list of projects can be found at hillsboroughschools.org/citizenoversight.

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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.