Growth Management Update| April 2021
South Hillsborough County is growing! You’ve probably experienced the impacts in many areas of daily life, including your child’s school, where increases in residential development result in higher enrollment. The growth has placed strains on high schools and middle schools in particular. For example, recent enrollment counts show Barrington Middle School at 93 percent and Shields Middle School at more than 100 percent of their available capacity.
Over the years, plans to address overcrowding at these schools through boundary changes and other efforts have not gained widespread support. Currently, the School District is pursuing multiple strategies to meet demand for classroom space and avoid the need for programmatic changes to alleviate overcrowding. We’d like to share the following updates on these efforts:
New school halted Plans for a new school to open in August 2022 on Bishop Road in Wimauma have halted due to concerns by Hillsborough County government over road infrastructure. This school would have helped alleviate space in area middle schools by providing room for 1,600 students.
New magnet and PK-8 conversion The School District has now pivoted its focus to two projects aimed at alleviating middle school capacity: A brand new PK-8 magnet school and the conversion of Collins Elementary School to a PK-8. Together, these projects will create room for an additional 1,188 middle school students.
Future Middle and High School Looking to the future, the School District is planning to build another middle school and high school in the South County area within the next five years. Like the above halted school, the School District’s ability to build these schools requires county approval, and the same transportation concerns would likely apply.
Read on for more detail on new and potential schools.
Waterset PK-8 Magnet School
The School District will soon break ground on a magnet school within the Waterset development in Apollo Beach. The school is expected to open August 2022 and will have an overall capacity of 1,620.
Currently, this area lacks magnet programs and overcrowding limits choice options. The Waterset PK-8 is designed to help meet these needs.
The school is intended to be a first-of-its-kind, application-based Magnet School that implements the International Baccalaureate program with unique arts and science pathways.
Collins PK-8 Conversion
The School District is planning an addition to Collins Elementary School to convert it to a PK-8. The addition is expected to open in August 2023, making room for 594 middle school students.
The expansion will include features that will allow the campus to accommodate middle school students, including band and media center additions, expanded dining, as well as improved vehicle circulation.
To relieve overcrowding at Barrington Middle, the current Collins Elementary School boundary would need adjustment, a process that requires public engagement and School Board approval. The change could potentially relieve
Barrington Middle for the long term by shifting an estimated 400 middle school students to the Collins PK-8. To reiterate, boundary changes require School Board approval before implementation.
Middle School “WW” and High School “UUU”
The School District is planning for the construction of a new middle school and high school, temporarily named Middle School “WW” and High School “UUU.” The timing of their opening relies on the School District’s ability to build on the previously mentioned Bishop Road property or another potential site site southeast of State Road 674 West Lake Drive in Wimauma. The School District is appealing a decision that halted plans for the construction on Bishop Road. The West Lake Drive property is subject to the same approval process and area transportation issues will likely be a factor in the decision.
Middle School “WW” would be planned to relieve Shields Middle. This school would add 1,685 middle school seats, which could house the growth around Shields Middle. High School “UUU” would have capacity for 2,410 to 3,000 high school students. An attendance boundary change, if approved by the School Board, would allow the new high school to relieve growth in enrollment at Riverview and Bloomingdale High Schools.
Approval of the Bishop Road and West Lake property is a critical step to developing these new schools. If they’re not approved, programmatic changes will have to occur along with the use of modular buildings. The programmatic change could include double sessions at the middle and high school levels. Double sessions allow for different grades to attend at different times of the day to maximize the use of a school building.