By: Sharon Aron Baron
Neighborhood meetings are a chance for City officials to talk about new development, crime and events. However, most residents would agree that the meat of the meetings are the Q&A section, where citizens can ask elected officials and staff member questions.
Some of the biggest questions on Wednesday night’s meeting were from residents who didn’t even live in District Two, but showed up in a large contingent to discuss the impact of the planned charter school on their community along Nob Hill Road.
They wanted answers and they had staff members there to answer them.
But first, what really hasn’t been answered by the city manager are the countless hours that staff time is spending on something that isn’t wanted or needed by people that live nearby. What started out as a request for proposal from City Manager Michael Cernech that was signed off by the commission back in the spring of 2014, has snowballed into our City paying for this effort.
Because our city manager has used hours and hours of staff time and will continue using a considerable amount of attorney’s time as well, this will be taken into consideration whenever it comes down to a vote. I’ve heard this once too many times when the commission is deciding whether to move forward with a project….
“Well, the staff has recommended it…..”
“Staff has certainly spent a considerable amount of time on this…..”
“Everyone has done such a great job on this…”
The commission feels obligated to move forward on these huge mega-projects because, after all, they don’t want to let those hard-working folks down at City hall. They put so much time into it.
And time is money. Lot’s of it.
On Wednesday evening, when a resident from Southampton in Kings Point asked the city manager why he chose the Sports Complex, he tried to assure the audience, “We have no intention of sacrificing the sports complex” and said that Doral would be responsible for moving the skate park, basketball and tennis courts to their new location, and the field areas that the school would utilize would be during the school hours – when other children were in school as well.
“We heard it loud and clear that you don’t like the proposal” he said, and told the audience he was thankful that the citizens were allowing him to speak about the charter school instead of the way he was treated back in January at Kings Point when he kept getting interrupted while he was trying to speak.
He explained why it was important that they needed the large area at the Sports Complex to meet the needs of the charter school:
“When you develop a real high school you need approximately 40 – 45 acres, not some high school in a strip center, not some high school in an office building…you need it to have all of the facilities available for those kids that make, what I call a legitimate school.”
He said that the school could be built in the center of the complex and have all of the facilities self contained and the City could share in the maintenance costs with Doral Academy.
“It’s a very complex proposal from the very beginning. We’re in the process of negotiating with Doral and with their management company Academica. We have shared with them a long list of things in which they would have to do in order for the city commission to approve the proposal. We’re either going to get an agreement from them that falls within the parameters that we’ve outlined or they’re going to tell us that they can’t do it.”
He said that when they have answers, the commission and people in the community will be made aware of that. Then, they will be in a position to present it so everyone will have the same information and then the commission will be able to get input from the community.
Cernech told the residents that people have lost confidence in Broward County Public Schools.
“As you look at the existing Broward County Public School system, almost all of the schools, by my own research, are what they called under-enrolled, meaning there is already additional capacity in the Broward School system for more students. Part of that has to do with as people have lost confidence with the public school system, charter schools have sprung up, not only in our county, but all over the State and have been successful in garnering students in the charter schools….and that has caused problems as students have gone away.”
He said that the students in Tamarac attend a variety of schools that are graded from A to D.
“We have an opportunity to provide a higher level of education for the students that live in Tamarac, and Doral Academy is specifically a college preparatory academy school, that is their focus, and last year they were the 24th best rated high school in the State of Florida. They ranked in the top 400 high schools nationally for academic achievement and excellence. It is a great opportunity for us, and it is an opportunity to provide other educational choices for those that live in Tamarac.”
The City manager is correct, they do rank high in US News and World Reports State Rankings. However, according to the Florida Department of Education’s December 2014 report of High School grades, they received a B grade in 2014.
JP Taravella also received a B.
The good news is both Doral and JP Taravella earned A’s in 2013.
But here is the real measuring point: socioeconomics. Socioeconomic status refers to the level of education, income, and professionalism of an individual or group. Studies have shown lower socioeconomic backgrounds can negatively affect a child’s learning. Last year, after crunching data from both charter and public schools in Broward County, Tamarac Talk found that Broward County Public Schools are actually outperforming charter schools when looking at serving students from all socioeconomic backgrounds.
According to data that was found on www.education.com 26 percent of all of Doral Academy’s students were on free or reduced lunches. JP Taravella had 37 percent. A difference of over 10 percent.
This means that JP Taravella is doing better although they are educating children coming from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.
This certainly says a lot about them.
But JP Taravella doesn’t have one thing: the word “preparatory” in their name.
District 3 Neighborhood Meeting, Thursday, April 30
District Three mostly comprises of Kingsport and several communities near Southgate and is represented by Commissioner Diane Glasser. The meeting will take place on Thursday, April 30 6:30 p.m. at the Westwood 24 Clubhouse at 8207 NW 107 Ave Tamarac FL 33321.
District 4 Neighborhood Meeting, Wednesday, April 22
District Four covers mostly Woodmont and Heathgate/Sunflower area and is represented by Commissioner Debra Placko. The meeting will be held on Wednesday, April 22 6:30 p.m. at the Tamarac Community Center at 8601 W Commercial Blvd Tamarac FL 33321.
Not sure which district you live in? Check out this district map here.