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Hillsborough County (Fla.) board votes to close elementary in Tampa

April 20, 2023
Just Elementary is the only Hillsborough school with an F grade from the state.

The Hillsborough County (Fla.) School Board has voted 4-3 to close Just Elementary School in Tampa at the end of the school year.

The Tampa Bay Times reports that Just Elementary is only school in the Hillsborough County district to have an F grade from the state. The school has only 283 students—it borders a now-shuttered public housing project that used to send its children to the school.

Students now at Just will be transferred to Tampa Bay Boulevard and Booker T. Washington elementary schools.

Hillsborough—the nation’s seventh-largest district—is grappling with the problem of schools operating far below capacity. Dozens of campuses more are a third to half-empty.

Just Elementary has room for nearly 600 students, but nearly half of the 519 children zoned for it based on their addresses instead opt for magnet schools, such as nearby Dunbar Elementary; charter schools like the Channelside Academy of Math and Science; or other schools that are under capacity.

Hillsborough Superintendent Addison Davis said the children attending Just were not getting an adequate education. He cited low scores this year on state skills tests and chronic teacher vacancies.

Davis said the idea of closing a school “openly breaks my heart.” But, he said, “if you look at the analytics and take emotion out, the answer is no.”

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