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Hillsborough County School Board votes to approve boundary changes in a 4-3 vote

 Seven members of a school board sit at wooden dais in front of two flags and a blue curtain.
Courtesy of
Hillsborough County Public Schools
The Hillsborough County School Board voted 4-3 Tuesday to approve outgoing Supt. Addison Davis' proposal for new school boundaries. The changes will go into effect before the 2024-25 school year.

The Hillsborough County School Board voted 4-3 to approve new school boundaries. The plan will take effect in the 2024-25 school year.

Amid concerns over leadership changes, the Hillsborough County School Board voted in favor of approving boundary changes that will affect 15,000 students.

By a close 4-3 vote Tuesday, the board decided to move forward with new school boundaries originally proposed by outgoing Superintendent Addison Davis in February.

In a move that will likely be among his last as superintendent, Davis told board members the plan would save the district over $13 million.

“I urge this board to move forward with this recommendation, regardless of leadership changes, because this is the right thing to do for the school district," he said. "Don't wait, don't push this back off."

Interim Supt. Van Ayres will take over for Davis on July 15. Davis told the board that Ayres and the entire superintendent's office are committed to getting the boundary changes right.

Despite Davis' reassurances to the board, there was plenty of back-and-forth between members about the decision.

District 2's Stacy Hahn said not moving forward with the recommendation would put the board back another two years — one to go through the process again and one to implement it.

"I know that it was started under Supt. Davis, but it was based on the needs of our schools," she said. "And the capacity issues in our schools really wasn't his big vision. It was based on data."

District 3's Jessica Vaughn said with Ayres stepping into his new role mid-July, the vote should have been tabled "until the transition of the new superintendent is fleshed out."

“We've talked about rush decisions, and we've talked about 12 months and stability and culture," Vaughn said. "To me, the feedback that I'm getting from the community, overwhelmingly, is to please hold off on this.”

And Board Vice Chair Henry "Shake" Washington said whether the vote was tabled or not, "my answer is going to be no."

"If we do it tonight, if we do it a month from now," Washington added, "it's still a no because it has not helped my students in District 5."

Washington, whose district spans approximately from Fletcher Ave. to Riverview Drive and Armenia Ave. to N. Kingsway Road, said he has 4,300 students changing schools because of the plan.

But Board Chair Nadia Combs said, after a year of planning and community engagement, the decision could not be pushed off any longer.

“We cannot keep kicking this can down. This is a hard decision," she said. "I have read every single email, it is so hard, but I have to do what's right for the entire district.”

The boundary changes will move the county from 23 very over- and very under-utilized schools to two, Davis said. Very over-utilized schools run at 110% enrollment or greater; very under-utilized schools run at under 60% enrollment.

In addition, Davis said six schools would be repurposed, with Just Elementary already having closed. He said Adams Middle School would potentially transition in two years as a collegiate academy, while the other four school facilities — Cleveland and Kimbell elementary and McLane and Monroe middle — could be used for district staff.

The new changes will go into effect for the 2024-2025 school year.

Nothing about my life has been typical. Before I fell in love with radio journalism, I enjoyed a long career in the arts in musical theatre.