By: Sharon Aron Baron
They believe in education, but the City is wasting taxpayer time and money on a poorly selected location for a charter school that is neither wanted or needed, said residents from Kings Point that turned out for Wednesday night’s City Commission meeting.
“It is my understanding that Broward County has told Tamarac that there are enough schools within our reach to serve current needs, and these are pretty decent schools,” said Kings Point resident Mark Landsman.
It was a packed chamber on Wednesday evening with many residents asked to stand outside of City Hall with the doors propped open for them to listen.
Before they could speak, City business like proclamations, commissioner’s updates, the City Manager’s and the City Attorney’s reports took the first hour. By the time it came for public participation, many that were standing outside of the commission chambers, could stand no longer and went home.
Before the public comments were to begin, Mayor Harry Dressler spent 15 minutes going over the ground rules for the speakers. As Kings Point President Len Ronick was about to begin, Dressler interrupted and said he had another thought, in which the audience erupted into audible groans. Dressler slammed the gavel down and yelled, “I’m not going to tolerate any of that stuff tonight. I want everyone to understand that. Let’s not get started on the wrong foot here!”
Although there was no item on the agenda about the charter school and no vote was to take place, residents from Kings Point made it clear to the city commission that they were not in favor of it near their community. They were then allowed a total of 30 minutes for their speakers to come forward to share their thoughts.
Paula Mindel, a 10 year resident of Kings Point said the thought of putting a charter high school in that location was outrageous.
“I voted for many of you, and I feel I am entitled to knowing exactly what your position is on this issue. It is my understanding that some of you have refused to state your position.”
“We lost confidence. We lost trust,” said Landsman. “You’ve got to tell us why we need a new school and you’ve got to tell us why you’ve never considered another place but that sports complex.”
Tamarac Talk has received data from Broward County Public Schools for see what growth looked like between for five years between 2009 and 2014 for students living in Tamarac. In these five years, the City has seen a growth of 15 percent in students attending schools.
Data reflects students residing in Tamarac, and reflects current charter school students as well. It does not specify which school or which town they attend school. For instance, for middle school, students could be living in Tamarac, but they could be attending Millennium Middle School, Silver Lakes Middle Schools located outside of Tamarac or any other middle school. For high schools, they could be attending JP Taravella, or any other high school in Broward County.
In 2009, there were 3,172 Tamarac children attending elementary schools. That number in 2014 was 3,701. In five years, this is an increase of 529 children or 15 percent.
In 2009, there were 1,530 Tamarac children attending middle schools. In 2014 that number was 1,611. In five years that is an increase of 81 students or 6 percent.
In 2009, there were 1,892 Tamarac children attending high schools. In 2014, that number was 2,363. That is an increase of 471 students or 20 percent.
In total, Tamarac has 1,081 more students than five years ago. That is a 15 percent increase.
The total number of middle and high school students totals 552. The new charter middle and high school wants to accommodate 1,200 students.
Tamarac currently has 471 high school students that attend other schools. Now if the City of Tamarac went to the Broward County School Board and said “Listen folks, we realize that Piper, Coral Glades and JP Taravella are all under-enrolled, but we have 471 students here that attend these schools, but we want our own school” Do you know what they would do? They would laugh at the audacity of that request.
It just doesn’t make good fiscal sense.
Roll out an RFP (request for proposal) for a for-profit charter school? That’s like feeding a shark. How could they not bite? Each child that moves from BCPS to charter is money in the bank for them.