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Image for New A/C units being installed at Blake High and Lithia Springs Elementary!
Crews are busy replacing air conditioning units at 21 Hillsborough County Public Schools.

New A/C units being installed at Blake High and Lithia Springs Elementary!

June 12, 2019 - Points of Pride

For everyone who asked why we had to wait until summer break to start replacing A/C units—this is why.

Blake High School has huge cranes lifting and lowering large pieces of metal.

Lithia Springs Elementary has the entire ceiling removed and chunks of insulation and tiles dropping from the rafters.

Walker Middle Magnet has dozens of construction crew members coming and going from all parts of the building.

To put it plainly, it wouldn’t have been safe for our students or staff to be on campus during all this construction.

So, it’s exciting to see the incredible progress now going on at so many of our schools this summer thanks to the Half-Penny Sales Tax!

Right now, 21 of our schools are getting brand new A/C units and MANY more are getting new roofs, along with smaller projects like new tracks, gym floors and security system upgrades.

Our Operations Department made the decision which schools would get which projects done, and when construction would begin, based on need. The independent Citizen Oversight Committee reviewed these decisions, just as they review every significant decision related to how Half-Penny Sales Tax dollars are spent.

Citizen Oversight Committee member Ed Narain addressed the School Board at its June 11 meeting. Narain told board members $31 million has been raised by the Half-Penny Sales Tax so far, and he says that money is being spent correctly and our district is living up to its Half-Penny Promise to spend the money effectively.

“If you’ve ever had any concerns about whether or not Hillsborough County Schools or the Operations Department is doing things the right way, I can tell you, as a layperson who has recently learned about this, they are doing things the right way,” Narain assured the board. Narain is a former state representative and currently serves as a regional executive with AT&T.

Kevin Martin is the principal of Lithia Springs Elementary. His school, students and staff will be the beneficiaries of some of that Half-Penny Sales Tax funding flowing into our district after voters approved November's Education Referendum.

Last school year, he was placing maintenance requests nearly every other day. Lithia Springs Elementary is 26 years old. There have been air conditioning repairs over the years, but for the most part, the main unit is as old as the school.

And it showed.

“Typically it would be close to 82 or 83 degrees,” he said. “But it was the humidity that was really bad. You just couldn’t get the humidity out of the rooms.”

He said his teachers and staff were outstanding. They were dealing with 22 sweaty, uncomfortable children… but they were handling it like pros.

Martin said the students’ families were outstanding as well. “You would see parents bringing in big box fans for teachers and water for the classrooms. They knew we were doing everything we could to make the situation best for their children and they were very supportive of us,” he said.

Now, thanks to the support of our community passing the Half-Penny Sales Tax, those box fans will be a thing of the past at Lithia Springs, and students and staff in many of our district’s older schools will start the school year in MUCH more comfortable conditions!