BY BUDDY NEVINS
There are schools all over the county that need new roofs, but the School Board singled out just one for discussion Monday — Cooper City High in Chairwoman Laurie Rich Levinson’s district.
Laurie Rich Levinson: Her School Gets Attention First
The school was asking for an additional $6 million in repairs over the $27 million allocated in 2010.
The money would go for a deteriorating roof, but added to the request are also additional parking, bathroom and classroom improvements.
Other members complained that other schools had maintenance problems and needs, too.
“Why is this different than Fort Lauderdale High School?” asked member Katie Leach. “I’m not going to sit quietly while my schools are skipped over.”
She was told that Cooper City was being handled as a separate project. It was a safety issue.
However, the Sun-Sentinel on Sunday highlighted numerous schools with maintenance problems. Northeast High School had portions of its interior roof collapse in a hallway.
“The needs of the students at Northeast High School are no different than what is brought us here,” Leach said.
“I for one have been out on those roofs and can tell you what’s going on,” Levinson argued.
Levinson called Northeast High’s problem “a different discussion.”
Member Donna Korn called the Cooper City roofs “a critical need.” She also criticized the staff for asking for the money without presenting a list of other needy schools so that the Board can set priorities.
And Sueprintendent Robert Runcie called Cooper City’s aging roof a “significant health and safety issue.”
For instance, Runcie said band equipment was being damaged because of the poor conditions in the school.
However, the Cooper City discussion shows that the Board and its staff continues to mishandle construction problems. Instead of dealing with all the maintenance shortfalls at once, they are picking a school in the chairwoman’s district with very politically active parents to handle first.
They are handling Cooper City first, although this story appeared in the Miami Herald and on TV on Jan. 29:
“Northeast High ceiling crumbles as roof goes unrepaired
By Michael Vasquez
The idea that only a school singled out on the agenda was in the chairwoman’s district smacks of the old political favoritism in construction projects that haunted the Board for years. Favoritism is an image that the Board has struggled to shake in preparation for asking the public for more money for local schools.
Board member will discuss the Cooper City renovation again in a regular meeting.