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Hillsborough County could soon rezone attendance boundaries for several schools

The school district says they have to do something due to all of the growth in the Lithia, Riverview, and Fishhawk areas.

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — Here’s a situation any concerned parent or property owner can relate to.

The Hillsborough County School Board is considering a boundary change that could move hundreds of kids from an A-rated school to average - and in some cases - below-average schools in the same neighborhood.

“We moved here, specifically, to go to this school,” said Eric Walkover, standing outside Mulrennan Middle School.

Walkover and scores of other parents are worried that if school boundary maps are re-drawn, their neighborhoods could get pushed out of their A-rated middle schools and placed instead at another local school that currently has a C or even D rating.

Specifically, the district is looking to move kids out of Mulrennan, Barrington and Randall Middle Schools, placing them instead at Giunta and Mann Middle Schools.

“My suggestion is to allow the families that already live in this neighborhood to stay,” said Walkover. “The reason we moved here is for those schools. Period. End of story.”

The school district says they have to do something due to all of the growth in the Lithia, Riverview, and Fishhawk areas.

Several schools are already at or 3 to 5% above capacity now. And in just three years, those same schools would be 30% overcapacity if no action were taken. 

“That being said, this is just a proposal,” said the school district’s Amber Dickerson.

Dickerson says they are open-minded and willing to hear parents’ concerns. But it would be irresponsible, she says, to spend $12 million for an addition at existing schools when there’s plenty of room at others.

“So, we really want to tap into the capacity in the middle schools that we already have,” said Dickerson.

Parents say it’s about more than just their children’s education. Many students have made what they hope will be lasting friendships with other kids and teachers.

Parents are also worried property values could tumble if their neighborhood is no longer assigned to their area’s top school.

“I don’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars to put on the line to buy another house in this school district,” said parent Nikki Drake. “Just for another one to sell.”

Hillsborough County Schools is planning two public meetings where parents can get more information, voice their concerns, or suggest alternatives.

The first of those meetings will be held Tuesday night at Rodgers Middle School between 6 and 7 PM.

Another is slated for January 8th also at Rodgers, between 6 and 7 PM.

The school district says it understands parents’ concerns and stresses. No final decision has been made at this point when it comes to re-drawing those boundaries.

But if they move forward with changes, and if parents don’t like where their child is placed, they can still apply to attend a different school through the district’s school choice program.

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