Summer Referendum Update

How the half-penny sales tax is improving our schools!

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From the moment the last school bell sounded on May 28th, work crews have been busy in our schools, overhauling air conditioning units, painting interior and exterior walls, and installing equipment like phone systems, security enhancements, and classroom technology.

The summer time is our busiest period from a construction standpoint while students and staff are not on campus. Thanks to you, the voters of Hillsborough County, the Education Referendum helps make all of this a reality. District leaders are ensuring the needs of our schools are being met, in large part with Referendum funding, while making sure we are good stewards of taxpayer dollars.

Over the ten-year referendum, our goal is to complete more than 1,700 new initiatives and projects—creating a competitive, modernized element where our children have a sense of pride in their learning environment.

I recently had the opportunity to visit Liberty Middle School and Freedom High School, two of the fourteen campuses with major referendum projects taking place this summer. At these two schools alone, the district is making a $12 million investment. The two-phase project includes major A/C replacements, and upgrades to fire alarm systems, network infrastructure and intercom systems. Next year, Freedom will receive a synthetic turf and a freshly paved athletic track.

To date, we have completed more than 330 projects and I am so thankful for the continued collaboration between our Operations team, construction crews, and our vendors. We are committed to putting locally-owned, small businesses and minority-owned businesses to work when possible.

This summer, crews are busy completing significant projects that will invest $73 million into our schools. This extensive work is expected to be completed by July 28th.

We are always working ahead and looking to the future. The projects for next summer are already in the early stages. The architecture and engineering teams have been selected for the next ten major projects slated for the summer of 2022. In addition, fourteen other significant projects are being planned throughout the remainder of this year and into next summer, including partial or complete A/C replacements.

We emphasize A/C replacements in the summer due to the scope of the work and the obvious importance of a comfortable learning environment here in Florida. I also would like to mention that we have 22 playgrounds on the list to be completed in the next three years, which will provide students with updated activity equipment to release energy and improve their physical well being.

The community’s willingness to give back allows us to not just band-aid our facilities but create thriving and robust schools to prepare our children for jobs that do not exist today. Our facilities will be the best of the best when it comes to safety, security, and infrastructure.

We will always lead in a transparent manner. We want the community to know that the money they are extending to public education through this referendum is genuinely being used in a manner in which it should be used — for our children. Information on our school projects in progress and those that have been completed can be found on our website at

I want to thank the Hillsborough County taxpayers for investing in our schools and our students. A special thank you to our independently-run Citizens Oversight Committee, led by Betty Castor, for their thoroughness, knowledge, and commitment to affirm the money is being utilized to its fullest potential. The future begins here in Hillsborough County Schools.


Addison G. Davis

Superintendent of Schools

Third Summer of Major Projects in Progress

This summer, fourteen major construction projects, including air conditioning overhauls, are in progress totaling an estimated $73 million. This includes ten new projects and four carryover projects.

Crews are expected to wrap up projects by July 28th in time to get faculty, staff and students back in the classroom for the 2021-22 school year.

You can view a list of current projects completed and in progress here.

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Background on the Education Referendum

In November 2018, district leaders educated voters in Hillsborough County about the benefits of a half-penny sales tax Education Referendum.

The money is spent solely on improving our facilities and other capital projects in our schools - replacing air conditioning units, improving old roofs, enhancing security systems, and repaving parking lots, among other necessary projects.

Voters showed up in force and approved the Education Referendum.

The district remains committed to spending at least $500,000 at every school and we are proudly well on the way to fulfilling that promise.

The half-penny sales tax was estimated to raise approximately $121-131 million per year for ten years. Much of that will be generated by the many visitors that come to the Tampa Bay area, but all of it will benefit students in Hillsborough County.

Once the referendum passed, a Citizen Oversight Committee was assembled to oversee the spending, progress, and completion of school improvement projects. Working together to provide clear and transparent referendum information to the families and citizens of Hillsborough County, the committee is made up of an impressive group with a longstanding commitment to the children and families of Hillsborough County.

We have invested more than $246 million into our schools

Since our first round of funds arrived in April of 2019, we have completed more than 330 projects.

Over the past year and half, we were conservative in our project planning due to the economic impact of COVID-19 on tax collections, and we reduced our work by 30%. At this time, we are estimated to be down $4 million overall from what we originally projected would come in with referendum dollars. However, we expect to recover that loss in the near future.

As of June 2021, we have invested more than $246 million into our schools with 80% of the projects awarded to local businesses and 25% awarded to small and minority-owned businesses. Our district uses more minority-owned businesses than other districts in the area.

“Certainly without that referendum, big projects like these would be almost impossible to do, so we are very grateful to our greater Hillsborough County community for passing the referendum in order for our schools to receive these necessary upgrades. - Principal Cronin, Pizzo K-8 School

Media Coverage

Click here to read the Osprey Observer article

A Half-Penny Makes A Big Difference For Schools

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Click here to view the ABC Action News coverage

Hillsborough County Schools provides update on referendum spending

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Click here to view the Bay News 9 coverage

Hillsborough County schools getting millions of dollars in upgrades this summer

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Click here to view the WTSP Channel 10 News coverage

Transparency with your tax dollars: How Hillsborough Schools is spending your money

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Revenue from a half-penny sales tax can only be used on capital expenses, which includes repairs, maintenance, technology, and security.

Those specific projects include:

  • Replacing or overhauling air conditioners
  • Fixing leaky roofs
  • Exterior and interior painting
  • Upgrading safety and security systems
  • Providing state-of-the-art equipment
  • New classroom technology

Aside from our referendum projects, the district’s normal repair and maintenance projects are funded through existing property tax millage. Our district will continue to receive this millage money and will direct it to regular repairs and upgrades.

The referendum funding provides a new source of revenue, accelerating projects that otherwise would not have been tackled for many years or may not have been completed at all.

Major Referendum Projects in Progress this Summer

Chamberlain High School

Partial HVAC Replacement, Network Infrastructure, Telephone/Intercom

Budget: $ 7,000,000

Construction Company: JE Dunn Construction | Architect: Anston-Greenlees, Inc.

Freedom High School / Liberty Middle School

Partial HVAC Replacement (FHS/LMS), Fire Alarm System (FHS/LMS), Network Infrastructure (FHS/LMS), Telephone/Intercom (LMS)

Budget: $ 12,000,000

Construction Company: Core Construction/Horus Construction | Architects: Ranon & Partners, Inc.

Robinson High School

Partial A/C Replacement, Fire Alarm System, Public Address System

Budget: $ 5,400,000

Construction Company: Ajax Building Company | Architects: Carastro & Associates, DC Studios

Farnell Middle School

Partial A/C Replacement, Fire Alarm System, Gymnasium Floor, Repave Athletic Track

Budget: $ 5,300,000

Construction Company: Reno Building/Sun Equities | Architects: Long & Associates

Burney Elementary School

A/C Replacement, Fire Alarm Systems, Telephone/Intercom, Repave Parking Lot

Budget: $2,019,137

Construction Company: Williams Company | Architect: OCI Associates, Inc.

Carrollwood Elementary School

Complete A/C Replacement

Budget: $ 2,098,000

Construction Company: Skanska USA Building | Architech: Phoenix Enginering

Claywell Elementary School

Partial A/C (Convert to air cooled chillers)

Budget: $ 3,211,000

Construction Company: Suffolk Construction | Architect: Engineering Matrix

Davidsen Middle School

Partial A/C (Replacement of pumping airside and controls), Fire

Alarm System, Fire Evacuation Improvements, Stage Lighting, Elevator Modernization

Budget: $3,671,000

Construction Company: A. D. Morgan Corporation | Architect: Carruthers & Associates

McKitrick Elementary School

Partial A/C (Airside and controls), Fire Evacuation Improvements

Budget: $2,328,000

Construction Company: Gilbane | Architect: BAL Engineering

Pizzo K-8 School (Elementary building)

Complete A/C Replacement, Fire Alarm System, Fire Evacuation Improvements, Generator, Elevator Modernization

Budget: $3,470,000

Construction Company: Barr & Barr/PAR Development | Architect: SGM Engineering

Four Carryover Projects from Last Year

You can find detailed reports on referendum projects HERE

Leto High School (Phase 2)

Partial A/C, Re-roof, Fire Alarm System, Security System, Public Address System

Budget: $10,000,000

Construction Company: Wharton-Smith, Inc.

Architect: Ranon & Partners, Inc.

Plant High School (Phase 2 & 3)

A/C Overhaul

Budget: $12,200,000

Construction Company: Minimise / Skanska

Architect: Carastro & Associates

Robinson Elementary School (Phase 2)

Partial A/C, Window Replacement

Budget: $1,800,000

Construction Company: The Beck Group | Architect: VoltAir, Inc.

Valrico Elementary School (Phase 2)

New Parking Lot / Storm Structure

Budget: $500,000

Construction Company: Skanska USA Building, Inc. | Architect: Engineering Matrix, Inc. / Campo Engineering

What's Next?

Our district is ahead of schedule for major summer 2022 projects.

The architect/engineer teams have been selected for the next ten major projects expected to start during the summer of 2022. Those projects are slated at the following schools:

  • Ballast Point Elementary School
  • Madison Middle School
  • Brooker Elementary School
  • Chiles Elementary School
  • Ippolito Elementary School
  • Jackson Elementary School
  • Wilson Elementary School
  • Martinez Middle School
  • Pierce Middle School
  • Tomlin Middle School

The selection process for these ten schools has concluded for both the design and construction management companies and contracts are being finalized. In addition, there are also 14 other significant projects being planned throughout the remainder of this year and into next summer, which include partial or complete A/C replacements. The schools included in those projects are:

  • Alexander Elementary School
  • Broward Elementary School
  • Bryant Elementary School
  • Buchannan Middle School
  • Cimino Elementary School
  • James Elementary School
  • Lopez Elementary School
  • Rampello K-8 School
  • Robles Elementary School
  • Sulphur Springs K-8 School
  • Symmes Elementary School
  • Tampa Bay Boulevard Elementary School
  • Wilson Middle School
  • Witter Elementary School

Additional scopes of work are being reviewed at the schools listed above, beyond the A/C work.

All told, there are 28 total projects proposed, including four carryover projects at

  • Freedom High School
  • Liberty Middle School
  • Morgan Woods Elementary School
  • Farnell Middle School

Phase 2 at these four schools will be completed either during the fall or winter breaks or during the summer of 2022.

The overall budget for these 28 referendum-funded projects is estimated to be $86,047,184.

Check out the $10 million being invested into Leto High School this summer

Other Projects in the Works

Aside from major air conditioning and roof replacement projects taking place in our schools, students and families will be happy to know that each year playgrounds, paved tracks, parking lots, and paint jobs are completed.

The following projects will aesthetically enhance our schools and greatly improve physical activity opportunities for our students. These projects are in the process of being complete or are completed. Many projects are in planning stages, with equipment and mulch ordered, waiting on a delivery, and in some instances, crews are waiting for the wet months to dissipate for work to be completed. These projects are expected to be complete this summer and fall.


Bellamy Elementary School

Cannella Elementary School

Folsom Elementary School

Lennard High School

Mort Elementary School, Community Partnership School

Sessums Elementary School

Outdoor Play Court Replacements

Adams Middle School

Greco Middle School, (IB Candidate School)

Seffner Elementary School
West Shore Elementary School

Repaved Tracks

Benito Middle School

Davidsen Middle School Center for the Arts

Hill Middle School

Mann Middle School

Repaved Parking Lots

Forest Hills Elementary School

Lincoln Elementary Magnet School (IB)

Exterior Painting

Brandon High School

Orange Grove Middle Magnet School of the Arts

Walker Middle Magnet School (IB)

Westchase Elementary School

Fire Alarm Control Panel Replacement & Flooring

Adams Middle School

As a reminder, the Citizen Oversight Committee oversees the spending on school improvement projects funded by the Education Referendum. The committee consists of six independent citizens who are not affiliated with the district and cannot work on projects funded by the referendum. An additional member is a Hillsborough County Public Schools principal and serves as a district representative to oversee spending and review referendum projects. The committee typically meets monthly to discuss project updates and finances.

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