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Hillsborough County could see schools close, merge amid budget cuts

The idea is currently in the exploratory stage, according to the school district.

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — Parents in Hillsborough County could see their child attending a new school in a couple of years due to budget cuts, according to the school district.

The potential for closing and merging schools has been a topic of discussion on a list of ways the district is exploring after financial experts say it's $116 million in the red this year.

“Can we continue to have under-enrolled schools that are costing us a significant amount of money, to operate every single day when we could potentially close, consolidate or re-boundary? I think that has to be a strong conversation with the next 30 to 45 days,” Superintendent Addison Davis said at a January school board meeting.

At the time Davis agreed with board members who say the district deserves more money from the state, but COVID-19 is likely to make that difficult. 

The timeline for the potential changes? Well, school officials say they're in an exploratory phase and any action, if settled on, would not occur for a few more years.

Other options being considered to help with the budget include job loss, allocation changes, and cuts to electives and sports.

In an Oct. 2020 letter to families, Davis said music, art, IB, or magnet components will not be cut and that decisions are going to be made in a way that protects the "classroom experience" and minimizes the impact on the teaching staff. 

If the proposed solution takes shape schools that are under-enrolled and re-drawing attendance boundaries would be the district's focus.

Hillsborough County holds the seventh-largest school district in the nation with nearly 224,000 students on its roster.

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