TAMPA, Fla. — Tensions were high Tuesday in a crowded school board meeting filled with frustrated parents in Tampa.

What You Need To Know

  • The Hillsborough County Public School Board held its regular meeting but spent the first hour and a half hearing from people, many of whom were against potential boundary redistricting

  • The district has been presented three different scenarios that would move boundaries within the district, many parents at the meeting opposed the second and third options that would move their children from Plant High School to Jefferson High School 

  •  Public meetings are being held all week to learn more on the scenarios and for people to voice their opinions

  • HCPS' superintendent says all comments from the public will be considered in the district's decision

The Hillsborough County Public School Board held its regular meeting but spent well over an hour hearing from the public who spoke out against potential boundary redistricting.

Liam Smith is only 11, but that isn’t stopping him from making his voice heard. He’s a student at Grady Elementary, and is standing in front of the Hillsborough County Public School Board to share why he’s opposed to potential boundary redistricting.

“If you change north Bon Air and Westshore Palms school zones, I won’t get the same educational opportunities,” Smith said.

Because even at 11, Liam knows he wants to go into engineering and coding. Something that’s offered on his current curriculum path to Plant High School but not in two of the three proposed new boundaries that would send him to Jefferson High.

“I will lose all my friendships I have made in the past six years,” Smith said.

It’s why so many parents are here tonight. They saw the three scenarios and many of them feel their kids won’t benefit from going to schools other than Plant High or Coleman Middle School.

Some say it’s not an easy decision.

“You got a big dilemma on your hand,” said Robin Lockett, one of the people who spoke during the public comment period. “The most important thing for me is how will you be sensitive with equity. People don’t want to be bused out and we don’t want to be bused in.”

It’s a sentiment shared by many for well over an hour during the meeting. One by one, speakers came up to share their thoughts and it’s all leading to that big decision on what the board may or may not choose to do. 

The district is considering the change because it could potentially save them roughly $150 million.

“People have spent their entire lives,” Smith said, “like my mom here, living in the same house and living here just for the district.”

Which is how Liam’s dad, Brad Smith, feels too. He was one of the speakers who says this decision can be life altering for his son.

“This is not only going to rob the future for my son but other students in his position,” Brad Smith said.

These comments are all important, according to the district’s superintendent, who said Monday that no decision has been made and the feedback they get from folks like Lockett and the Smiths will factor in the ultimate choice.

Until then, kids, like Liam, will keep making sure their voices aren’t lost in this discussion.