Hillsborough School board approves boundary changes

By Fallon Silcox and Laurie Davison, Team Coverage
Last Updated: Tuesday, May 16, 2017, 8:34 PM EDT

Boundary changes for the Hillsborough County schools, the nation's eighth-largest district, were approved by a 6-1 vote Tuesday. 

After months of research and public meetings, school board members voted today on whether to implement boundary changes. About a dozen schools will be impacted in North Tampa and New Tampa.

The vote will impact the attendance boundaries for the following elementary and middle schools: Hunter's Green, Clark, Mort, MOSI, Pride, Shaw, Heritage, Witter, Forest Hills, Pizzo, Greco, Adams, Sligh, and Van Buren.

Some school board members called this one of the most difficult decisions they've ever been called upon to make. In the end, however, they decided that the changes were necessary.

"We have to move students, and even though that's not always a pleasant thing to do, it has to happen," said board member Cindy Stuart.

Under the new boundaries, more than a dozen schools will be impacted. Students will be able to attend schools closer to their homes, rather than being bussed to schools further away.

Some parents showed up at the school board meeting to voice support for the plan.

"I think it makes sense for kids to go to their neighborhood school," said parent Dina Martinz Tyson. "They can build friendships and build a sense of community and within walking distance."

However, others fear the new boundaries will affect diversity. Still others claim this is a way for the district to save money at the expense of students.

"There are no winners out of this," said parent Steven Hancz. "The only thing that is going to win out of this is the bean counters to save on cost.

Board members and Superintendent Jeff Eakins denied that money was the sole driving factor in the vote.

The boundary changes will be implemented in the 2018-19 school year, and will include some exceptions for students currently enrolled in schools.