By: Sharon Aron Baron
With the influx of charter corporations wanting to move their schools into our city, Tamarac Talk asked the city commission at the May 28 meeting to establish an Education Advisory Board.
Right now, charter schools are treated like any other business setting up shop and allowed in business districts, strip centers, close to neighborhoods, or even near other public schools. Currently, an alternative high school is seeking a special exception.
Called International High School, American Charter Development will be paying over $1.7 million for the 2.73-acre property that was formerly a call center at the 8301 West McNab Road location. They are planning to open a dropout prevention school that will be operated by Newpoint Education Partners.
Charter schools are big business. They are public schools that receive state tax dollars, but function with their own boards of directors, and enjoy substantial independence from state and local regulations.
Surrounding cities such as Sunrise, Coral Springs, Parkland and Lauderhill have Educational Advisory Boards made up of educators or former educators who have first-hand knowledge about schools, and besides acting as a liaison between our city and our schools, they can advise the commission before they vote.
Tamarac has an Art Committee, but no Educational Advisory Board.
Something has to change.
According to the Sun-Sentinel, City Manager Michael Cernech said, “We do not evaluate them [charter schools] based on the revenue they bring to the city. It is not for me to judge if a charter school is good or bad.”
We need a committee of citizens to judge whether a school is good or bad for our residents and their children before they open shop in our city.
“Not too long ago, you could open a charter school in just any business district,” Cernech said. “Now, we have a process in place where they need to get the approval of the City Commission. We will further narrow down the scope of where a charter school can open in the city. Once we get our code rewrite finished, we will be doing an even better job of regulating them.”
How long will it take to get our code rewritten, and what does our city commission know about education?
As long as the Planning Board approves the special exception of the charter school, the City Commission must have competent substantial evidence in the record to overturn the decision of the Planning Board, or they must vote to move forward.
Why we are leaving the final say the educational needs up to members of the Planning Board and the City Commission? Let’s establish an Education Advisory Board now.
Parkland Educational Advisory Board:
Pursuant to Parkland Ordinance 2005-30, the Educational Advisory Board shall make recommendations to the City Commission regarding education, improving communications between schools and school populations, recommending projects for improving school facilities, and will advise the City Commission on health, safety, transportation, and quality-of-life issues that affect students.
The Educational Advisory Board consists of five regular members whose term shall run co-extensive with the Commissioner appointing that member, two at-large members whose term shall run two years, and the two alternate members whose term shall run two years.
Lauderhill Educational Advisory Board
To promote programs and community involvement to enhance all schools situated within the boundaries of the City of Lauderhill; to generate ideas and make policy recommendations regarding school boundaries, year-round schools, the location and construction of new schools, and busing.
Sunrise Education Advisory Board:
Education Advisory Board Meets first Tuesday of the month at 6:00 p.m. This 10-member board serves in an advisory capacity in matters pertaining to education. Responsibilities may include: participating in an information exchange via school newsletters and principals’ offices with the administration of each City school; coordinating the activities of the City with those activities of local schools, colleges and universities in order to promote educational opportunities for residents of the City; developing recommendations regarding programs that may be created by the School Board of Broward County to enhance educational opportunities in the City; identifying and attracting state and federal programs and grants in direct support of City schools; and promoting the public image of City schools.
Coral Springs Parent Education Advisory Committee:
The purpose of this committee is to provide a vehicle of communication and education between the schools, community, and the City. The Committee is one of the two local educations advisory committees. Issues discussed include safety/traffic issues and programs, student achievement recognition, local government education activities, and all City programs that affect children, their parents, and schools. Coral Springs also has a Charter Review Committee.