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Hear what parents and students have to say about Hillsborough's school redistricting plans

Two people, one an employee and another a student, looking at proposed school district maps for Hillsborough County.
Octavio Jones
WUSF Public Media
The Hillsborough County School District is hearing from members about its three options for redistricting, which could impact thousands of students.

The changes could "repurpose" 12 schools, meaning students would need to shift to other facilities.

Parents in Hillsborough County are voicing their concerns this week in a series of public meetings over the school district's potential plans for redistricting.

The change could impact up to 24,000 students, as current proposals would close several schools considered "underutilized" and shift students to other facilities throughout the county.

The school district says closing some schools and combining populations could save up to $31 million.

“I just don’t feel that closing any school is going to be good for our students," Hillsborough County school board member Karen Perez said. "Boundary changes have happened in the past, but they’ve included the feedback of our constituents, and they’ve been smooth boundary changes. But this has not been smooth, it hasn’t had the feedback of our constituency."

During a Monday public meeting about the changes at Middleton High School, parents, students and other constituents were able to speak with district officials about their issues with the changes.

The district is hosting community meetings at various schools throughout the county the rest of this week.

Sarah Holly:

Sarah Holly

“My biggest concern is, if they’re taking students from different schools and putting them all into one school, what are the teachers gonna do with all of those students in a classroom? I am a retired educator, and I thought in elementary, if I had 20 students, it made a big difference from having 15. That’s my biggest concern because we already lost so much with COVID, and all I see more losses in what the district is doing now. I just see more loss in educating our children.”

a woman with a mask on speaking with Hillsborough Superintendent Addison Davis about redistricting in a large auditorium.
Hillsborough Schools Superintendent Addison Davis speaking with community member Rosa Webster of the National Council of Negro Women.

Earlishia Oates:
“My son, he will be going into high school next year. His community high school now is Armwood. With the change, Middleton would be his high school. And I don’t feel that would be a safe place for him to be, knowing that some of the kids that go to Armwood now are not friends with the kids at Middleton.”

Earlishia Oates

“The outcome, first of all, is to have had the superintendent bring this to our attention and ask for our input before he made a decision, because I still feel like this is already finalized. He’s just doing this for show.”

Jennifer Montenez:

Jennifer Montanez

“Where I live, they put my son in a much further school, where here it’s only a 15-minute commute from my house. So the school that they have him going to is 30 to 35 minutes away from where I live. So I didn’t understand why the sudden change. I thought literally that I was the only one feeling this way, but coming here and seeing all of this, I see I’m not the only one.”

Jennifer Montanez

“I don’t trust the public school transportation, because of the bullying and the accidents and so much things happening. As a single mom, I like to make sure my son goes to school in a safe way, so I like to take my son physically to school. It being 30 minutes away, it impacts my personal job, where I would have to come back to work late, or I would have to report to work late.”

A man sits in a podium with his leg on the chair in front of him as he and other members of the community hear about school redistricting plans for Hillsborough County.
A community member sits and listens as Hillsborough School District officials explain potential plans for redistricting.

Edwin Costa (8th Grader):

Edwin Costa

“My biggest concern are like, all these transitions, you’re not getting kids to have a say in what decisions are being made in their county. This belongs to the community, not just the school board or the superintendent. I feel like everyone should have a say at the end of the day.”

I’m Octavio Jones, a frequent contributor to WUSF, and native of Washington D.C. I’ve also spent an extensive time of my life in North Carolina.
As a host and reporter for WUSF, my goal is to unearth and highlight issues that wouldn’t be covered otherwise. If I truly connect with my audience as I relay to them the day’s most important stories and make them think about an issue past the point that I’ve said it in a newscast, that’s a success in my eyes.