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Hillsborough County Public Schools Announces Plans To Build Two New State-Of-The-Art Schools In West Tampa

Pictured from left to right are: School Board Member Henry “Shake” Washington, Board Vice Chair Jessica Vaughn, Hillsborough County Commissioner Gwen Myers, Superintendent Van Ayres, Board Member Lynn Gray, and Delano Stewart, the son of Garland V. Stewart, who is the namesake of the middle school.  

 

      Leaders from Hillsborough County Public Schools and the local community gathered at a press conference on Thursday, February 29th to share plans for two new state-of-the-art schools at the site of Just Elementary School and Stewart Middle Magnet School in Tampa.

     The new schools will serve roughly 1,500 students and will continue to honor the legacy of Dr. Ernest E. Just and Garland V. Stewart.

     The next steps are for the district to advertise for a design professional and a construction manager. Any changes to current school boundaries and the construction costs to build the schools will come before the School Board at a later date.

     During the next few months, school administrators and community leaders will work together to scope out plans for the curriculum at Just Elementary School to best serve this fast-growing area of Tampa. Stewart Middle, a popular magnet school, will remain a STEM school with a NASA focus.

     “Our goal is to honor the legacy and history of Dr. Ernest Just and Garland Stewart, and to provide our children and families with the best educational experience possible to position them for success in life,” said Hillsborough County Public Schools Superintendent Van Ayres. “I am especially excited because these new schools represent a $70 million investment in our children and are the first new schools built in Tampa’s urban core since the establishment of Blake High School 30 years ago.”

      These new schools will be independent but connected to each other to provide students with a seamless education from pre-kindergarten through 8th grade. Students can then attend Blake High School, allowing them to attend school on the same local campus, from kindergarten, all the way through high school.

      Funds to build this new school will come through the current school budget, including sales tax revenues and the Community Investment Tax (CIT). The district already owns the land, so there will not be any additional assessments, taxes, or fees.

    This campus sits on the Hillsborough River, so school leaders will work with City of Tampa leaders as they look to further expand the Riverwalk.

     Hillsborough County Branch NAACP President, Yvette Lewis, said the idea of joining the schools is a “victory for the community.”

     Ms. Lewis added that she and Al Sheriff, Basileus of Pi Iota Chapter Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., saw down with Supt. Ayres, Owen Young and others on his staff and hammered out how they could preserve the 2 schools and their historic names. “I’m so glad they opened their eyes and listened to us. The schools will still be close to the river and won’t be up for sale so quickly.”

(Photo and school renderings courtesy of the School District of Hillsborough County)

     The Just Task Force will determine the curriculum for the school.

     Construction of Just Elementary School and Stewart Middle Magnet School is planned to begin in the summer of 2025. Just Elementary is anticipated to open in fall 2027. Information on when Stewart Middle Magnet students will transition into the new building will come as the construction nears completion.

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