School construction is on the horizon to accommodate the influx of families in Southeastern Hillsborough County.

Plans are moving ahead with the new schools in the SouthShore area. As detailed in the full story on page 17 of this edition, the new K-8 school in the Waterset community is looking for a name and already has a principal who is looking forward to welcoming students in August.

Hillsborough County has also proposed changes in school boundaries in the Riverview area to prepare for Collins Elementary to expand to include middle school students. These changes will affect some students currently attending Barrington, Eisenhower and Rodgers Middle Schools.

For more information, visit www.hillsboroughcountyschools.org.

Original Story Printed March 2021.

“Preparing students for life is our top priority,” said Hillsborough County School Superintendent Addison Davis.

While this goal is a noble one, the reality of Davis’ job, which includes overseeing the daily operations of the seventh largest school district in the country, means Davis spends his days supervising school principals and district staff, working with school board members and managing fiscal operations.

One of the many challenges he faces is keeping pace with the tsunami of growth occurring in Southern Hillsborough County. Even with the opening of Sumner High School in Riverview, built to relieve overcrowding at East Bay and Lennard High Schools, and Belmont Elementary in Sun City Center, explosive and continued growth means boundary changes and new school openings for 2021 and beyond.

Wimauma Elementary will see an addition to its current building and will add another 306 students. The projected cost of the project is $7,224,354.

Plans for an addition to Spoto High School in Riverview are expected to be completed in August and will add 500 students to its capacity, bringing total capacity to 2,581 students. The new building will also be home to Spoto’s Culinary Academy and its National Academy of Finance. The projected cost is $16,058,922.

“The new addition to our school brings an abundance of excitement to the school and the community,” said Principal Dr. Haggins. “As we continue to experience an abundance of growth in Spoto’s boundaries, families can send their children to school with the assurance of appropriate class sizes and seamless class-to-class transitions.”

A new PK-8 school is planned on a 16.79-acre parcel near Waterset, located south of Paseo Al Mar Blvd. and west of I-75, with a capacity of 1,800 students. Its projected cost is $44,647,614.

Plans are also in place for Collins Elementary in Riverview to be converted into a PK-8 school with a building addition at a cost of $15,894,846.

The construction projects will be paid for in part by school impact fees, which are fees assessed by Hillsborough County for the impact on schools that is created by new housing developments. In 2020, the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners increased the school impact fee to approximately $8,000 per housing unit.

School construction is guided by Florida’s concurrency guidelines, which involves other government agencies and is achieved when adequate school facilities are available to accommodate increases in student enrollment resulting from new residential development.

To view the school board’s five-year comprehensive plan for the School District of Hillsborough County, visit www.sdhc.k12.fl.us.

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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.