As sales tax money flows to schools, cool air will soon follow

When students at nearly two dozen Hillsborough County public schools return in the fall, they'll be greeted by a rush of cool air from the vents in their classrooms and hallways. It's all thanks to the sales tax voters approved last year. 

Wednesday, the first of 21 air conditioning overhaul projects got underway at Walker Middle Magnet School in Odessa. More than 50 workers from Foresight Construction began demolition work on the school's existing air conditioning system. 

Tuesday, Plant High School shared a photo of the new A/C unit being installed to cool the school’s gymnasium.

“Thanks Hillsborough County for voting YES last November,” the tweet added.

According to the district, over the next decade, funds collected from the newly approved half-penny sales tax will go to overhaul or replace the cooling systems at 203 schools. Taxpayers approved the half-penny sales tax with a referendum vote in November 2018. 

"Each summer, our district expects to complete approximately 20 major school air conditioning projects as the funds are generated by sales across the county," Hillsborough County Public Schools spokeswoman Tanya Arja explained. 

This summer, Hillsborough County Public Schools plans to overhaul the air conditioning systems at the following schools: 

Alonso High School 
Benito Middle School 
Blake High School 
Burnett Middle School 
Clark Elementary School 
Colson Elementary School 
Dickenson Elementary School 
Dunbar Elementary School 
Durant High School 
Folsom Elementary School 
Knights Elementary School 
Lincoln Elementary School 
Lithia Springs Elementary School 
Lowry Elementary School 
Riverview High School 
Schwarzkopf Elementary School 
Sickles High School 
Walden Lake Elementary School 
Walker Middle School 
Wharton High School 
Woodbridge Elementary School 

The district pointed out that the schools listed are not the only ones that will have their systems replaced or overhauled. 

"We always work on maintenance on other systems at other schools," Arja added. "It will take 10 years to do all of the schools as the money comes in." 

Hillsborough County Public Schools said the upgrades will put work and money directly back into Tampa Bay's local economy by contracting 32 local companies, designers and builders to work on the air conditioning projects.