School Board, Despite Extra Cash, Can’t Get Classrooms Built







Stranahan High is not the only school affected by the system’s construction screw ups.

Eight extra portable classrooms paid for by the city and slated for Parkland schools remain unbuilt — lost in a morass of delays.

The Broward Schools signed an agreement with Parkland over a year ago. Parkland would pay roughly $2 million to build extra classrooms in the city.


You would think the School Board, which is always poor mouthing about its lack of money, would jump at the chance to get classrooms built with someone else’s cash.


The School Board’s agreement with Parkland is very simple. The city ponied up $2 million.  In return, The School Board promised to have nine new classrooms built in Parkland by September 2015.

That promise wasn’t kept.

The broken agreement is no surprise to Stranahan parents who have been waiting a decade for the School Board to fulfill pledges made to renovate their crumbling school.

“The long and short of it is that we provided the money. Obviously, the classrooms are not going to be ready,” Parkland Mayor Michael Udine says.

Here is what happened:

  1. Parkland’s agreement required the School Board to build 8 portables at an elementary school chosen by the Board.
  2. Parkland provided the construction money. The School Board agreed to construct, maintain and staff the portables for at least five years.
  3. The agreement required the construction to be completed by September 2015.
  4. The City provided $2 million last year.
  5. A bid request was made in October 2014.  When opened there were no proposals submitted.
  6. A second bid proposal was issued February 2015. Three bidders submitted proposals but the School Board staff found them “non-sufficient.”
  7. There was also a “cone of silence” violation during the second bid, so the School Board threw all the bids out.
  8. A third bid proposal was opened early in the summer. Five bids were examined and the proposal ranked in first place was $1 million over the budget.

Portables anticipated to cost $250,000 apiece are now expected to cost in excess of $375,000. This is just one of a long line of recent snafus by the school staff, which seems to draft costs estimates out of thin air.

This sad record in Parkland doesn’t reflect well on Superintendent Robert Runcie, his handpicked private building managers URS and building chief Derek Messier. It doesn’t give taxpayers much confidence that the spending of $800 million in construction bonds will be well-managed.

Most of all, it reflects poorly on a School Board that seems unable to hold Runcie and company accountable.



Runcie Ducks Blame…Again



One lesson Broward School Superintendent Robert Runcie apparently learned during his years as a government bureaucrat in Chicago: How to duck responsibility.

Runcie’s side stepping was on display again this week, leading some to question how long Board members will continue to put up with it.

Member Heather Brinkworth –a persistent critic of Runcie – was not told about a recent meeting of parents and staff on the neglected repairs of Stranahan High School, which is in her district. At a School Board session this week, Brinkworth lambasted the superintendent for leaving her off the invite list.

Not inviting her was “disrespectful” to her and parents who elected her, Brinkworth said.

Runcie conceded the blame was his because he was the chief.  He quickly added two big asterisks to the apology.

First, he said he was out of town. (Of course, he did make the meeting.)

Second, he said his staff were responsible for the invitations and they made the mistake.

Call me cynical, but I suspect this is what really happened:

Brinkworth was deliberately not invited.

Runcie didn’t want a Board opponent at the meeting when he tried to explain why promised Stranahan renovations weren’t done.

Dominate the discussion and keep your critics away from parents and the media. That’s a nobrainer for Runcie.

‘Cause that’s the way they play it in Chicago.



26 Responses to “School Board, Despite Extra Cash, Can’t Get Classrooms Built”

  1. Talks like a politician says:

    Dear Buddy, You are spot on about how Chicago style politicians play the game to keep reality out of the picture. Obama has been playing it for years and is still honing his skills.

    It is way past time for Broward County to hire an honest, competent person for the Superintendent position from among the handful of people with experience in this county who meet that qualification.

  2. sunshine says:

    Aren’t Board members not invited to these types of meetings because of the potential for a sunshine violation?


    It is not a Sunshine Law problem if the meeting is advertised and open to the general public.

  3. Deb perry says:

    The best quote I ever heard was when Runcie was asked about the Reasons why commitments to SHS Were not fulfilled he said,”Equitable does not mean equal”. That’s when I knew funds are going to be misappropriated. Who are these people he keeps referring to when he says,” I sent a group out to explore the needs of every school”. Wtf. Who was on this panel? It sure the hell wasn’t any members of the board. They were out of the loop and it was so obvious Tues. night.

  4. Val Lynn says:

    Regarding the meeting at Stranahan, Heather Brinkworth should have been notified. Given the many broken promises at Stranahan, the Superintendent should have contacted Ms. Brinkworth personally. He should publicly apologize AND state that he should have reached out to her.

  5. Sam The Sham says:

    Is anybody surprised? Could you not see this coming? And it will only get worse.

    Michael Savage is right. Liberalism is a mental disorder.

  6. Bob Adams says:

    You hit the nail on the head, Buddy!

  7. Zachery Taylor says:

    Thanks, Buddy, for recognizing again how inept our Superintendent and his chief operating officers happen to be. This portable disaster in Parkland is ridiculous. The district personnel of Broward are the ones who continue to make the mistakes. Even though the mistakes are constantly happening, most of them are hidden so unless they are brought out the board members do not know about them. However this Parkland disaster is one of the few things School Board Member Abby Friedman can claim she has done. Ms. Friedman has even called private citizens to tell them they are wrong and need to keep out of it. Wow, she is even wrong on this.

    The presentation of the District Educational Financial Plan was another miss step. Runcie held the meeting this past Tuesday. Only 5 board members were present, and I am pretty sure Runcie thought it would go through without a question. As you mentioned above, Ms. Brinkworth had again done her homework. Not only did she call Runcie out and demanded an apology it was done at an open meeting and in front of a packed room. Omar Shim reported there was approximately $150 million now available in the next 5 years. That is great!! However the school board members did not think so. No one bothered to speak to them about what priorities should be examined. So Brinkworth, Bartleman, Levinson, and Good had things to say about not having a workshop to discuss this new money. Then the board found out there is no plan regarding which portables are being removed from the schools. If you look at the list, Stranahan’s portables are not even listed to be removed anytime soon. That did not sit well with Ms. Levinson. Most of the new money was for transportation. I guess it is more important to get the children to the schools than to make sure the schools are healthly. Yes, Runcie was head of finances in Chicago, but he did not understand the people and board members in Broward want their children put first. Runcie plan to have only 5 board members present backfired. Runcie knew Brinkworth and Bartleman were not going to vote in favor of the DEFP. Unfortunately, as the meeting went on the tide turned and the only vote he could count on was maybe Osgood. Hopefully the Board has finally been disrepected enough times they will finally put him in his place. Ms. Brinkworth let Mr. Runcie know he works for her and she is definitely his boss!!!!!!!

  8. carolina says:

    Not surprised at all – I have commented many times about the bond issue – happily voted no but lost – Nora Rupert is the only board member who seems to understand. As I have predicted before – the board extended Runcie’s contract until 2019 – before he even proved himself, without Nora’s vote – See if my predictions come true – He will be “bought out” with a large sum of money that we will pay for & he will be “long gone” before 2019.

  9. Former Public Secor Director says:

    Ask some contractors why they don’t bid on SB contracts. The requirements in the bid packages are too intimidating for most contractors. I would bet that a lot of the requirements are unnecessary.

  10. M says:

    375,000 dollar portables????? Are you kidding me? Aren’t portables basically doublewide trailers with a bathroom and an air conditioner? Common sense must be one of the classes they cut to teach the FCAT.

  11. Nick Sakhnovsky says:

    It is completely unacceptable that School Board Member Brinkworth was not personally notified of a publicly advertised meeting in her own district. It is absolutely normal and common practice that board members are notified and, frankly, involved in the set up of such meeting. The superintendent’s being out of town has nothing whatsoever to do with it, as he himself would not be the person doing the notifying anyway. However, with a number of staff, friends and associates knowing of the meeting in advance I would be surprised if the board member were not aware of the meeting even if not officially invited, either from prior conversation or a phone call or text during the event itself from someone who was there and wondering why she wasn’t.

  12. Nick Sakhnovsky says:

    BTW regarding the Parkland portables, negotiations with the number 1 ranked firm whose bid was higher than the number 2 firm have evidently failed, so perhaps there is a chance for 7 portables to be built with another ranked firm (with a lower per unit price), albeit way past the agreed upon date…

  13. PandaBear says:

    And the beat goes on!

    Sam the Sham hit the nail at the right spot…

  14. @Nick says:

    Mrs Brinkworth was notified by members of her district. That is how she knew about the meeting and was able to fly in from her family vacation and go directly from the airport to the meeting. We are so glad to have such a supportive, engaged and assertive board member.

  15. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    I am in Rome, where for the first time I must agree with The New York Times, the honest, intelligent, hard working NORTHERN ITALIAN Reform Mayor has DESTROYED CITY SERVICES except for keeping the aweful hawkers and street peddlars out of the Porte Portese Sunday Market and from great historical buildings. Other wise, total chaos from the airport to the trains to the streets around my hotel for the first time in 13 years! So I was astonished that in Broward County, in a SCHOOL IN MY HOMETOWN of Ft. Lauderdale, things at the Board of Education are WORSE THAN IN ROME! At least here students go to SCHOOLs in BUILDINGs not shut up in “huts” or “trailers” or shoddy buildings that are falling down. What is wrong with the PARENTS! There are more PARENTS THAN BOARD EMPLOYEES and SCHOOL BOARD VENDORs! Why does a BOARD that HATES STUDENTS and PARENTS get elected and elected and elected! HOW IN THE NAME OF HEAVEN DOES A SUPERINTENDENT CALL A MEEING IN A BOARD MEMBER’s DISTRICT AND NOT INVITE THE DISTRICT ELECTED REPRESENTATIVE! What is the position of the other board members! A “normal” person who assume EVERY LAST ONE OF THE DISTRICT BOARD MEMBERS WOULD SCREAM BLOODY MURDER? Have they? Where are the statements IN SUPPORT of the Board member “snubbed”? I mean Europe has economic problems, BUT BROWARD COUNTY? It can’t spend all the tax money that comes in!!! They just got another 800 Million Dollars! What is wrong with these dumb jerks!

  16. Not the first time says:

    Happened last month in Rupert’s district. Community members called her and she crashed that meeting. Seems if you do homework and question Superintendent you get left off the invite list! Other Board Members better wake up, you’re next.Wake up and cancel the Chicago rule now. Broward students and teachers can’t take anymore. Please help us, take off your blinders.

  17. Andrew Ladanowski says:

    So who is responsible, who is going to be fired in senior management for this incompetency. I forgot, in Broward schools this means promotions for all senior management.

  18. SHSAlumniPride says:

    Thank you, Heather Pomper Brinkworth for demanding a public apology from Superintendent Runcie! There is no doubt in my mind that you did not get an invitation to the public forum at SHS on purpose!! The look on his face when you arrived straight from the airport was priceless!

    Topping that act, I’m in total disgust that Mr. Runcie told us that we were misinformed & there had never been anything in writing about a new school! We had multiple architectural plans drawn that have since been shelved, numerous community/neighborhood/parent workshops at SHS, meetings with architects & plenty of public School Board Meetings that were conducted over the years. Sorry, but we are not the ones who are misinformed! If you had done your due diligence, you would’ve realized that our Board Member, Mrs. Brinkworth was apart of the plans for a new school when she was a teacher at Stranahan!

  19. Sto says:

    Runcie has to go. He is an incompetent administrator

  20. SBBC Employee says:

    I voted against the bond seeing all the corruption that exists in the system. The voters got shafted and this will be another example of the incompetence, lies and deceit from the administration of the school board, while Abby, Dr. O. and Ann let Runcie ride rough shot over them!

  21. PandaBear says:

    Sto: Let’s make every dumby who voted yes on the bond write that 800,000 times until it is memorized…

  22. PandaBear says:

    Ooops. Sorry I spelled dummie wrong. I also meant 800 million times. LOL. It was a caffeine-free moment…

  23. Zowie says:

    There must not be enough graft available from this contract to mobilize the interests that decide which things get done in Broward.

  24. Harrison Bennett says:

    When is enough going to be considered ” ENOUGH “??

  25. juliet hibbs says:

    The Board member, save a few, all seem to support Mr. Runcie and his criminal and inept leadership. When will more people see? When will people pay attention? Broward schools is the number 1 employer of Broward County…sadly, if something doesn’t change, Broward will look more like Detroit then the sunshine state. No business wants to come because of the mess of our education al systems. Can’t be successful if you start your own because all the corruption pushes you out. People have been and will continue to leave. Our tourism is not great anymore. It is time to wake up. As the 6th largest school districts in the USA, we should be leaders. There are amazing people here! UT they keep the game rigged! So, destruction will follow. Runcie has had a virtual free hand since 2011, when he arrived. He was the new sheriff in town to clean up. He has only made the problems bigger. Many in the transportation department t has it right in 2011-2012 when they called Runcie and his crew the Chicago outfit! It is time for people to stop talking and do something. How about signs….like… Broward schools is too poor to educate our children. Pass the word.

  26. Becky Blackwood says:

    I made recommendations to Derrick Messier to start a separate roofing department (when he first met with the Facilities Task Force when he arrived) to allow emergency situations where leaking roofs had to be removed and replaced without having to wait for a major project. In the case of Stranahan and Northeast High Schools, just removing and replacing the roof would at least dry in the buildings and prevent further damage while there is a delay. Both Miami Dade County Public Schools and Palm Beach Schools have separate roofing departments for this reason but Messier ignored these recommendations. He also stated roofing does not require stainless steel for flashing in roofing. He wants to use galvanized aluminum to save money. Somehow, he doesn’t understand we live in an area where the salt in the area will rust the galvanized aluminum in half the life of the roof. This would be very costly to remove and replace the rusted galvanized aluminum plus void the roofing warranty. Stainless steel material is more costly than galvanized aluminum but the labor for stainless steel is less because it is more malleable. Additional recommendations were made to place the warranty for the life of the roof with the roofing contractor at a competitive bid price. This would improve the quality of the installed roof. What roofing contractor wants to return to their roof to repair it at their own cost after it is installed?