Parents push proposal to expand Apollo Beach Elementary to K-8 at Hillsborough school board meeting

Parents filled a Hillsborough County School Board meeting Tuesday night to push a proposal to expand Apollo Beach Elementary to include kindergarten through eighth grade. Parents said as the south county area grows, the schools aren’t keeping up, often dealing with overcrowding issues.

Many schools in that area are charter, magnet or private schools, but some parents said there aren’t enough public school options, especially for middle school students. 

"Our community is growing exponentially, but unfortunately, our school options are not growing at the same rate, so a lot of families in our community are feeling like we are torn. We are looking for more middle school options that are closer to us," Corrie Wassum, an Apollo Beach mom, said.

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South Hillsborough is a part of the Bay Area known for its booming growth. Data shows a four percent increase in population in just one year, from 2020 to 2021. Parents feel the school capacities don’t reflect that growth. 

"The last middle school that opened that was public was in 2004," Colleen Bianucci, an Apollo Beach mom, told FOX 13. "We see neighborhoods booming, new developments with businesses, but the schools just aren’t able to keep up."

Among the speakers at Tuesday night's meeting were a few elementary school students who said they did not want to leave Apollo Beach Elementary for their middle school years, losing their friends and staff. 

The decision to expand the school likely won’t be decided until next Spring, but the proposal already has support from County Commissioner Michael Owen and Representative Mike Beltran.