Little Money For Broward Schools, But Plenty For PR Spinmeisters

 

BY BUDDY NEVINS

 

 

Broward Schools’ bond program doesn’t have enough money to finish the promised renovations of crumbling classrooms. Yet the program paid a communications firm $800,000 last year to trumpet its successes.

A School Board audit released this month listed what Garth Business Solutions of Miramar did for the money. 

 

Yvonne Garth

 

No. 1  task for Garth was “compiling” a quarterly bond report.

No. 2 is web design for the bond program.

No. 3 is compiling newsletters, circulate and pamphlets.

Then there is graphic design, photography, copywriting and, my favorite, social media updates. 

Oh, and “ad-hoc reports requested” by the schools “leadership.” 

It took a seven-person bond communication team to accomplish all this. It adds up to roughly $790,920, says the audit. 

“Considering the size of the team dedicated to communications, and costs associated therewith, District management may not have adequate information to assess reasonableness of hours incurred,” the audit states.

Garth is now using a “more detailed timesheet…to capture the daily activity logs of each staff member,” the audit adds.

Garth’s president and CEO is Yvonne Garth, a veteran of Broward politics and the business community. A former Miramar commissioner and vice mayor, her firm’s work has been praised on major government projects such as the development of a Fort Lauderdale beachfront park.

Yet Garth Business Solution’s $800,000 work for the school bonds in the 2019-2020 school year comes at the same time that most of the schools renovations promised voters have not been done. In November 2019 before the corona virus slowed work further, the Sun-Sentinel’s Scott Travis wrote that “97% of schools (have) yet to receive long-promised repairs.”

The work was supposed to be completed next year, seven years after 2014 voters approved the $800 million bond program. 

The School Board staff concedes it may drag on until 2032. Eleven years late!

Kids entering elementary school when voters approved the bonds could be out of college by 2032. 

And even the 2032 completion date is optimistic. The $800 million is no longer enough to complete the work. 

Yet the school system found almost $800,000 to paint over this financial disaster with skillfully written newsletters and social media posts. 

Those payments to Garth are in addition to any similar positive spin pumped out by Superintendent Robert Runcie’s own gold-plated communication team headed by Kathy Koch.

 

Kathy Koch

 

She is Runcie’s personal Director of Communications and is often quoted on the bonds. She was hired for $165,000 annually and is allowed to run an outside PR business, according to the Sun-Sentinel. 

All those flaks spinning great news about the bonds is enough to make taxpayers dizzy, dazed and confused.  

Parents are told everything is fine. Progress is being made.

Yet the roofs still leak. The paint is still peeling. The air conditioners still fail. Mold is still growing behind too many school room walls. 

And no amount of spin can disguise this fact: Runcie’s $800 million bond program is a failure.  

 

 

 



11 Responses to “Little Money For Broward Schools, But Plenty For PR Spinmeisters”

  1. Elgin Jones says:

    I COULD have done it for half that.
    Elgin

  2. Anti spin says:

    A problem cannot be fixed until the problem is identified. The SBBC has identified school maintenance and construction problems. The public voted to spend millions to fix those problems.

    The money was not used wisely. What is the problem? The School Superintendent, Robert Runcie, has been in charge of the bond money and its usage. The “buck stops here” adage can be applied here. Runcie’s leadership is the problem.

    It appears that “putting lipstick on a pig” can also be applied to this problem. Over a million dollars has been wasted on lipstick to mask the flaws in Robert Runcie’s total lack of accountability.

    It is time for a change in leadership at the SBBC.

  3. Charlotte Greenbarg says:

    Business as usual in Broward

  4. Tell the truth says:

    Broward voters have accepted the mismanagement of tax dollars by the SBBC for as long as I have lived in Broward. Until a responsible board is elected, and a competent supervisor is hired, nothing will change. The sooner the $800 million dollar bond funds are squandered, regardless of what they have to show for it, the better.
    Wait till Tallahassee funding shortfall for all 67 counties is disclosed for the next budget year due to revenue hit during virus shut downs. It won’t be pretty.

  5. Charlotte Greenbarg says:

    This district has been a failure for decades The 2011 GJ Report was ignored by the Legislature and the Board. Voters need to demand a state oversight commission. Or else keep paying for the incompetence and corruption.

  6. Walter Caesar says:

    Was this contract put out for bids? If not, should the Grand Jury take a look? Just asking.

  7. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    “,…a veteran of Broward Politics” SAYS IT ALL! PROFESSIONSALS DOBT NEED POLITICAL ‘CONNECTIONS” to GET WORK. This is the ROT at the ROOT of AMERICAN POLITICS.

  8. Dylan says:

    As ridiculous as this is. I think more pertinent to the community would be focusing on the legitimacy of the SBBC Back to School survey and breaking down their preferred hybrid plan for next year.

    Certain questions need to be asked Such as what % of parents that responded were from Title 1 schools? Was the survey legitimate or manipulated to demonstrate results in favor of leadership’s preferred model of students returning to the classroom.

    Moreso, how is the hybrid model equitable and allowable? Off the bat it leaves working families in need of childcare 3 days a week, putting children with a stay at home parent,at an advantage. Second,it’s basically impossible to provide a unform system,as required by the state constitution, with students learning virtually 50% of the time. Due to the digital divide, the virtual learning experience will differ greatly and likely be less effective for students in economically disadvantaged homes and communities.

    As minorities are more likely to live in economically disadvantaged households the question, does a 50% virtual model create an an additional systemic hurdle, needs to be asked?

    Get on it Buddy! Cuz who else is there?

  9. Jean Churcherilla says:

    The BC School District is too large. It is ungovernable. There is no reason why we should be the 6th largest school district in the nation. Divide it up. Let there be accountability.

  10. Richard J Kaplan (Ret.) says:

    When I was Mayor, prior to the vote on the school bond issue, Runcie came to the City to get our support. I voted against the Resolution.

    Not because I felt the School system didn’t need the money. I stated that they absolutely did.

    It was because I had no confidence in the School Board Administration to do the job in the time claimed, and with the money they asked for. They over-promised and are under-performing.

    In the end, many of the projects promised under the bond issue will never be completed under this program.

    I had wished that I would have been wrong but I wasn’t.

    This is just more of the same. Just wait until they come back and ask for more bond and/or tax money again.

  11. Marie says:

    When will County Commission fire Runcie? Incompetent year after year, money squandered nothing for the individual schools. This is ridiculous and no one held accountable. If you want to get paid, you need to do the job, or be fired! Thats how the working world works.

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