By: Sharon Aron Baron
Tamarac has inadequate codes regarding special exceptions for charter schools, which may have been the deciding factor for the city commission to unanimously deny an alternative charter school company.
The proposed charter school called “International Charter School” would have served as a dropout prevention high school for at-risk students. It would offer two sessions each day for a total of 400 hundred students at what was formerly a call center at the 8301 West McNab Road location. The school would have been run by Newpoint Education Partners, which operates schools out of Ohio and Florida with a graduation rate of 10 percent.
Mayor Harry Dressler said that the case was troubling to him because of the compatibility issue with nearby building environments. He also brought up his concerns regarding the deficiencies in Tamarac’s city code regarding special exceptions for charter schools.
“Does our current code adequately address the issues raised here tonight, like traffic, security, parking, public safety, and compatibility? These are issues raised by many of the residents here which can negatively impact public health, safety, and general welfare,” said Dressler.
Currently, Section §24-548 of Tamarac’s code, which contain the requirements for approval of a special exception, has two sections. Section (b) provides only three standards which must be completed by all applicants for special exceptions. However, other municipalities have up to eight standards. But, section (a) also requires that any special exception not adversely affect the public health, safety and general welfare of the city.
“Are you working on code amendments for related for special amendments for schools?” Dressler asked Maxine Calloway, Director of Community Development.
Calloway said that she was working on code amendments, and they should expect to see them after summer recess. She agreed that the current city code was inadequate, necessitating rewriting.
Under new requirements, she said they would look for a minimum lot size for a school to locate on a property, additional standards by which they can review applicants and hold the applicant to, as well as reducing the number of zoning districts where schools can be located.