By: Sharon Aron Baron
The District Three neighborhood meeting held at the Tamarac Community Center was met with several hundred residents. Although there were many that showed up from the Woodmont community, a large contingent of those present came from Kings Point who were looking for answers about the proposed charter school.
How are they ever going to squeeze these residents into the Westwood 24 Clubhouse on April 30 when it’s the District 3 meeting? Not too smart moving it from a bigger venue. I already foresee capacity issues. If City officials are reading this now – and they typically are our biggest readers, they may want to fix this problem soon or plan on turning busloads of residents away.
City Manager Michael Cernech reiterated at the meeting that unless Tamarac children received first priority into the school, it was a deal breaker, and said that one of the ways is a geographical preference, and that was up to Doral Academy to provide as this not his area of expertise. “Whether or not they are able to do that is another story,” he said.
In an email sent out to the commission in March, Cernech writes:
They [Doral] believe they can negotiate it with the School District and we have asked for it in writing. They are also seeking a change in State Law which we have consulted with our lobbyist on and he seems to think it’s doable. Again, unless we get it in writing or the law changes it’s a deal breaker.”
Wait a minute, our City is consulting with our lobbyists over this? Cernech really wants this to be a done deal. And if Academica tries to change State Law to get a school built here in Tamarac – well, that shows you the lengths these charter school companies will go to get their schools built. Doesn’t matter that those laws were put in place for a reason.
If Doral cannot change State Law and guarantee City preference, this would defeat the purpose altogether of a “Tamarac High School,” therefore opening the door to students from all over Broward County.
On Wednesday in front of the audience, Cernech boasted about Academica’s performance and said that they were looking to build a school in his hometown of Parkland.
But the City of Parkland wants their Broward County Public Schools to remain strong, and so far there are no plans for a charter school.
“I believe that our residents would prefer a traditional Broward County Public School and that’s what we’ll continue to fight sometime in the future,” said Parkland Mayor Michael Udine to Tamarac Talk. He said that Broward County Schools own three parcels of land near the “wedge” in the northern part of Parkland that they have not built on as of this time.
“If a public school is an impossibility, then we’ll have to look in the other direction. It is my belief that sometime the future we may have to to look at a city charter school,” said Udine.
A City run charter school is different than the type of charter school that Tamarac is looking into. Examples of City run charter schools are Pembroke Pines and Coral Springs where the City not only holds the charter, but has strong oversight.
Letter to Residents
After one year, and possibly the pressure of hundreds of residents questioning their motives, the City of Tamarac has finally issued a public statement to residents about the charter school, that is, if you have an email on file with the City.
In a statement released by Assistant City Manager Diane Phillips, she sends out a list of questions and answers to residents under the title Doral College Preparatory Charter School Update.
Isn’t the school called Doral Academy Preparatory School?
She continues in the email referring it to the “proposed college preparatory charter school.”
It’s a charter middle and high school.
The email says that the school would be located on a portion of land at the sports complex near the water storage tank.
Actually the portion of land encompasses at least seven acres.
She mentions that Doral Academy is a “Florida not-for-profit educational institution with a 15-year track record of successful development and operation of 6 high performing charter schools in Florida and one in Nevada.”
This is correct, however, Academica, which is their parent company is a for-profit company.
The letter glosses over how parking will be handled, and doesn’t mention one of their requirements for the school will be for Doral to build a 350 car parking garage to handle the cars.
Would we lose any of the fields at the Sports Complex? No, none of the fields would be lost. “The skate park, basketball or tennis courts may have to be relocated, but will not be eliminated.”
They’re not lost…..just moved away!
“If an agreement is reached, we will be doing a traffic study as part of the site planning process. A preliminary analysis indicates that we have additional capacity on the existing roadway. The process will entail working to develop a traffic pattern that will have the least impact on the surrounding community.”
The traffic study has already determined that the roads can handle the additional cars each day, so basically they are looking for an easy drop off-pick-up pattern to keep traffic moving. No mention of how the additional traffic will affect your life in that study.
What’s in a Name?
One other thing that wasn’t mentioned: why would our community want a school named after another City in Florida? Can’t they at least negotiate for a better name? They blew it with Renaissance Charter School at University. While other Charter School USA run Renaissance Schools use City names along with their locations, they refused to name their school “Renaissance Charter at Tamarac” instead naming it after the street. Were they embarrassed by our City? Now Academica aka Doral Academy has the audacity to propose a school in our City named after a City near Miami? That should be another deal breaker.
The bottom line is, it all comes down to five deal breakers: and those are Dressler, Gomez, Bushnell, Placko and Diane Glasser. Who will refuse this deal if they meet all of Cernech’s requirements?
More to come.