By: Saraana Jamraj
School Superintendent Robert Runcie paid a visit to Tamarac to share updates on the state of local schools students attend.
During the city commission workshop held on February 24, Runcie shared that Tamarac Elementary is 52 percent complete with their renovation, which includes fire sprinklers, HVAC improvements, and updating the media center. Also included are new front office furniture, projectors, laptops, cameras, and printers.
They’re able to complete renovations with the original budget of $2.8 million coupled with the board-approved construction budget of $1.6 million.
Challenger Elementary is awaiting the hiring of a contractor, which will include renovating the music room, adding a new fire alarm, HVAC improvements, and converting existing space into music and art lab. The school has received new iPads, laptops, and Lenovo ThinkPads, and await new playground shades. The budget is $1.4 million.
Millennium Collegiate Academy is still in the designing stages. Upgrades include an art room renovation and equipment, converting existing space into a music and art lab, a fire alarm, and HVAC improvements. They have received document cameras, chemistry equipment, and media center furniture. The budget is $3 million.
J.P. Taravella High School renovations are also under design, awaiting building improvements. They include fire sprinklers, HVAC improvements, media center improvements, safety and security upgrades, and STEM lab improvements. The budget is $13.6 million.
Piper High School is awaiting the hiring of a contractor for building and electrical improvements, including fire sprinklers, HVAC improvements, media center improvements, safety and security upgrades, and STEM lab improvements. The budget is $15,9 million.
Runcie said that Ely High School in Pompano Beach is under construction, awaiting improvements to building 14. They’ve completed facility updates to their weight room, and still await an ADA stage lift, building improvements, fire sprinklers, gymnasium accessibility, HVAC improvements, media center improvements, outdoor dining renovations, and STEM lab improvements with a total budget of $23 million.
Boyd Anderson High School is still in the planning and designing stages and will include a chiller replacement, a weight room renovation, and media center reconstruction. The budget is $8.2 million.
Commissioner Julie Fishman asked him to comment further on an article that speculated about schools closing, specifically Tamarac Elementary School.
He assured her that there were no plans for schools to close in the next one to two years.
Runcie said that while the school board does look at factors such as enrollment when deciding how to address the idea of closing schools, it’s not their first option—and instead, they try to work with the schools, and make changes which would allow them to stay open, such as repurposing portions of the facility.
“It’s a variety of things—it’s not this closure that brings about fear and anxiety in the community; that’s not how this conversation should be had,” said Runcie.
Mayor Michelle Gomez noted that with Tamarac’s population getting younger, the state of education is even more critical to the residents, many of which are families with young children. She suggested considering repurposing schools to include grades K-8 and asked that Runcie consider the commissions’ suggestions when reevaluating in the future.
He assured the commission that he would continue to work with them, as well as with the community.
- Selene Raj is a writer and a Florida International University graduate. She's completed her Master's in Mass Communications in 2020, and has been living in Coral Springs since 2004. She is passionate about the communities she lives and works in and loves reporting and sharing stories that are as complex and meaningful as the people who live in them.