Calls upon the Broward School Board to rebuild trust in the community appear to have fallen on deaf ears. While selling the merits of the upcoming $800 million school bond vote, Superintendent Robert Runcie promised to form an oversight committee to assure funds are spent wisely. Local activists’ hopes Runcie would bypass the usual powerbrokers hovering were dashed by a resolution on tomorrow’s school board meeting agenda.
Agenda item AA-1 is a School Board resolution in support of the bond oversight committee. The document claims the Board, “recognizes the importance of establishing a mechanism to encourage greater accountability, transparency, public support, and confidence in the use of general obligation bond funds.” The resolution states the committee will be an independent citizens advisory committee which will hold public meetings and report findings to the Board. If the bond issue passes, the Board would have ninety days to create the committee.
So far, so good. Right?
The committee would be made up of 19 people. Superintendent Runice would get to pick three people including the chair and vice-chair. Now, here comes the usual suspects.
The resolution identifies 11 organizations which would be allowed to pick their own representatives to the committee. The groups include The Florida Bar Association, Urban League of Broward County, Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the Broward Workshop, Broward County PTA, Broward Teachers union (BTU), Associated Builders and Contractors, Broward County Minority Builders Association, Disability Rights Florida of the Special Needs Advisory Coalition (SNAC), the Florida Consortium of Charter Schools and the AFL-CIO.
Which one of these groups represents Broward school kids with 15 year-old computers? Which one represents the single moms who send their kids to a school with a leaky roof because they cannot afford private school? Which committee member represents the special needs high schoolers without handicap parking spots near the buildings? Which committee cares about the low-paid autism coach stuck in a room with malfunctioning air-conditioning and non-ADA compliant bathrooms?
No, this committee is made up of the same people that helped destroy the public’s faith in our school system.
Think the folks from the construction industry will pick new computers over new buildings? Will the teachers union put children ahead of the needs of their union members? What if the Florida Bar pick is a lobbyist? What happens when Republicans hear the AFL-CIO sent letters to Broward teachers urging them to vote out Governor Rick Scott? Will they vote against the bond issue?
BrowardBeat.com calls the final set of committee members a “recipe for controversy.” The resolution calls for one member from law enforcement, one from fire safety and three from the faith based community. Who picks which faith is represented? Last time we checked there were more than three. What about atheists? Will this force a legal challenge? Will members of the Mount Olive church be allowed to serve? School Board Member Rosalind Osgood is president of the Mount Olive Development Corporation (MODCO).
Will committee members be allowed to conduct business with the school district?
Once again, all these questions highlight simple fact: the needs of the children of Broward County are never at the top of the list.