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Friday, Jun 22, 2018
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Freedom High experiences unexpected enrollment bump

NEW TAMPA — Freedom High School is seeing an unexpected jump in enrollment this year, possibly a side effect of an improving housing market, officials said.

Freedom High Principal David Sheppard and his staff anticipated welcoming less than 2,000 students to the Commerce Park Boulevard campus in Tampa Palms this year.

But by the time the final bell rang on Aug. 20, the first day of school, Sheppard and his staff realized the projected student enrollment numbers were off.

New students kept coming, Sheppard said.

“We are still enrolling students,” Sheppard said Wednesday. “It looks like our numbers are up over where we anticipated them to be.”

There was a similar scenario at Gaither High School on North Dale Mabry Highway, Hillsborough County School District spokesman Stephen Hegarty said. The projected enrollment at Wharton High on Bruce B. Downs Boulevard in New Tampa is on target.

Hegarty warns there is no need to panic about higher than expected enrollment at the Freedom and Gaither.

“These things change every day,” Hegarty said.

Hillsborough public schools completed their five-day student enrollment count earlier this week. The district plans to wait to see how the numbers pan out after the 20-day count to determine if more teachers are needed at Gaither or Freedom.

“Typically, the district does a very good job with enrollment projections district-wide,” Hegarty said.

Sheppard was left scratching his head about the unexpected student enrollment spike at Freedom.

“We watch for new apartments, condominiums and housing developments opening in the area, but we haven’t noticed any new ones,” Sheppard said. “Maybe people are moving into existing houses.”

Freedom High has the space to accommodate all of the students, Sheppard said. He plans to consult with district officials over the next week or two about whether more teachers are needed.

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