Hillsborough County Public Schools (HCPS), the third-largest school district in Florida, was experiencing a high growth rate and had a significant amount of unfunded maintenance needs. Looking for guidance on future needs by subarea as well as funding options, HCPS retained Benesch to prepare a Long Range Growth Plan with a Business Plan component.
Benesch determined the need to establish three sub-areas in terms of long-term planning. There would be a significant need for elementary schools in the long term, followed by the need for high schools. It was established that the district needed to build up to 40 schools over next 15 years, primarily in south county, followed by north/east county. To use available infrastructure more efficiently, some schools with low occupancy would need to be repurposed into K–8 facilities.
Following the development of the plan, public workshops and one-on-one meetings with the School Board were conducted. The School Board accepted the study results and its recommendations, using the Long Range Plan to gain support for 1/2-cent school infrastructure surtax, passed in 2018. The Long Range Plan document and School District’s process to gain support for this surtax received Honorable Mention from American Planning Association, Suncoast Chapter in 2019.
Benesch has since developed a capacity tracking database, reviewed development releases, and created a development review process for HCPS. In 2020, they contracted Benesch to update the Long Range Plan and the school impact fee and develop a separate Long Range Plan for a subarea.