Hillsborough County students enjoy upgrades thanks to sales tax increase

It was a day of introductions as Hillsborough County students kicked off the school year.

Monday morning at Broward Elementary, the state's teacher of the year, Dr. Dakeyan Graham told students the new year is a chance for new experiences. 

"To learn so much more about the profession," Dr. Graham, the Director of Bands at King High School, said. "Getting the opportunity to see the inner-workings and how things are done differently in different counties. And glean what I can to bring back to Hillsborough."

Something new this year: Funds from the half-cent sales tax are rolling in and it's a game-changer for the district.

"We've been able to finish over 100 projects this summer alone. and over the next nine years, we'll have many more to come," Eakins said.

What has already been tackled includes newly-painted schools, upgraded playgrounds, and new air conditioning units.

And those aren't the only funds being injected into the district. Hillsborough just got a $7-million dollar grant from the state for school security upgrades.

"We have new technologies we're taking advantage of now to alert people across our buildings if there's any kind of danger," Eakins said.

He's referring to the new ID badges that will be in the hands of every staff member.

With the push of a button, it can immediately trigger a school lockdown with audio and visual notifications.

"In order to educate our students and have our teachers do the incredible work they do every day, you have to have that feeling of security," Eakins said.

They've also stepped up patrols, in marked and unmarked vehicles.