Monroe May Be No More

Hillsborough County is coming up with a new redistricting plan.


Photo Charlotte Stone

Sign against the third proposal of the upcoming Hillsborough County redistricting displayed in a front yard.

Charlotte Stone, Print Managing Editor

Hillsborough County Public Schools held its first of ten public meetings on the possible redistricting of schools in Hillsborough County on Monday, Jan. 9, 2023. The first two meetings were held at Middleton High School and Plant City High School. But, there were eight more public meetings throughout the week from Jan. 9, to Jan. 13.

During these meetings, Hillsborough County Public Schools presented three potential plans for the redistricting of Hillsborough County. These scenarios, assembled by WXY Studio, a consulting firm based in New York City, include the redrawing of school district boundaries along with the closing and repurposing of schools.

These plans focus on 24 schools that are either over 110% capacity or under 60% capacity and have the potential to affect between 11,000 and 24,000 students, depending on which scenario is chosen.

Of the three plans, the first is the least drastic. This plan includes a few boundary changes and is estimated to save the county $15 million per year. The second plan is a little more intense. This plan would focus on underutilized schools and have more boundary changes than Scenario 1, saving the county $20 million per year. Finally, the third scenario is the most aggressive of the three and has subsequentially received the most backlash from the public. This plan would have more boundary changes than the first two scenarios and repurpose seven schools. Scenario 3 would save the county up to $31 million annually, but at the cost of affecting up to 24,000 students.

Later this month a final redistricting plan will be presented to the School Board. The Board is expected to approve one of the three scenarios or a hybrid of them. Any changes made will take effect in the 2023-2024 school year.

Although none of the proposed scenarios will greatly affect Robinson, or the Robinson district school border, many Robinson students will still be affected. For example, both scenarios 1 and 2 would shut down and repurpose Monroe Middle School. In this case, “repurposing” would mean transforming Monroe into a magnet school, training center, or even affordable housing for teachers.

Due to Robinson’s close proximity to Monroe, a large portion of our student population attended Monroe Middle School and many will be sad to see it go, if either Scenario 1 or 2 is passed.

“[Monroe closing] would be really, really sad because that’s a childhood school [for me]. I had a lot of friends there…I would be heartbroken for that [to happen],” Lakeem Johnson (’24) said.

While many students are upset by this potential change, not everyone shares the same feelings toward the possible repurposing of Monroe.

“I don’t really care that much about my old [school]. I mean, it was nice, but at the same time, if it’s going to be repurposed for something better than what it is now, then, I’m happy,” Emma Nelson (’24) said.

Although Nelson would be open to this change to the district, she still has many fond memories from her time at Monroe.

“I played volleyball [at Monroe] and just the team in general [was my favorite memory]… I loved making all the memories in the gym with them and that was my favorite part,” Nelson said.

Some students have mixed emotions about what will happen to Monroe. Many students’ opinions are bound to change based on what the county decides to do with Monroe, that is if they decide to close it.

“Honestly, any part of your childhood being [taken] away and repurposed will make any person a little nostalgic… yet, Monroe Middle School was a low-funded school, Ava Booker (’25) said. “Monroe provided minimal opportunities for students and I feel that if these students were to be sent to a school with [a] greater purpose it’d be more beneficial for their education. However, if housing will fill this area, I feel that is not in these students’ best interest. It all depends on what will happen to this land, and hopefully, it won’t be a new apartment complex.”

Monroe being repurposed is just one example of what may happen when the new redistricting plan is passed as up to 24,000 students could be affected. There are also many concerns that redistricting would lead to schools being less diverse.

“We’re very sensitive to this information and how it impacts communities and how it impacts our entire organization,” Hillsborough County Superintendant, Addison Davis said at the Hillsborough County Public Schools community meeting on redistricting at Middleton High School on Jan. 9. “However, as an organizational leader, we have to be able to look at the utilization of our schools. We have to be able to look at the course offerings at our schools, as well, being able to look at over-utilized schools, under-utilized schools, the distance that children transition to and from school every single day, and then also look at the financials that are impacted to be able to create and offer educational experiences every single day.”

However, the decision of which scenario will be used is yet to be decided and Davis insists that the feedback that the county receives will play a big role in the decision.

Check this interactive map to see if you will be affected by any of the 3 scenarios.