Some citizens want to eliminate the penny from circulation, saving the government close to $85 million annually, but pennies become dollars, and dollars can become millions.

In November 2018, voters in Hillsborough County passed the half-penny sales tax Education Referendum, which was expected to raise millions of dollars to improve facilities and other capital projects, from replacing air conditioning units to new roofs to repaving parking lots.

To date, the District has received more than $260 million. That’s a lot of half-pennies.

“The Education Referendum has been a vital resource these past two years, giving our district the ability to create the right learning environment for all students,” said Hillsborough County Public Schools Superintendent Addison Davis.

The independent Citizen Oversight Committee, made up of members from a wide range of political, geographic, ethnic and professional backgrounds, was formed to review all spending related to the $121-$131 million a year generated by the sales tax.

The District has spent $240,146,730.64 so far on projects throughout the District.

In our area, the sales tax funded Bevis Elementary and Randall Middle Schools’ AC unit upgrades last summer, stage lighting and AC upgrades at Lithia Springs Elementary, grades K-3 and 4-5 playgrounds at Alafia Elementary and a pre-K playground at Pinecrest Elementary.

In the future, funds will be used for fire evacuation improvements and network infrastructure at Barrington Middle, a fire alarm control system and playgrounds at Bevis, bleachers and grandstands and painting and waterproofing at Bloomingdale High, an AC overhaul at Cimino and FishHawk Creek Elementary, a public address system at Newsome High, gym floor repair at Randall and fire evacuation improvements at Stowers Elementary.

In all, the District expects to complete more than 1,700 projects in the next decade, including more than 2,000 AC units and more than 60 aging roofs, and spend $23 million in upgrading safety and security systems and providing state-of-the-art equipment and facilities designed to create a safe environment for learners.

For more information about the school projects funded by the half-penny sales tax, visit

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MIchelle Caceres has been writing for the Osprey Observer for seventeen years. She enjoys writing human interest pieces about inspiring members of the community who are working to better our community. She lives in FishHawk Ranch with her husband and recently became an empty-nester. When not writing, Michelle is serving her church community, reading and enjoying Florida's weather.