Runcie Abandons Board Meeting To Sell Bonds





School Superintendent Robert Runcie is in the midst of one of the most intense political campaign schedules that Broward has seen in recent years.

His goal:  To get voters to approve $800 million in new debt for school maintenance.

Almost daily Runcie, often with a School Board member in tow, pushes his financing plan in front of prospective voters.

Sometimes the bond promotion interfere with his day job….school superintendent.


Leaves Meeting



Runcie and his staff abandoned a key meeting on school maintenance last night so he could travel to a condominium and sell the bonds.

The superintendents attendance at Wynmoor condominiums in Coconut Creek was to encourage condo residents to support the $800 million bond referendum on the November ballot.

Wynmoor not only took precedence over the School Board meeting. It also supplanted an earlier planned speech to the the Lauderhill City Commission.  He was on the commission agenda and sent a replacement.

Runcie ducked out of the Board meeting despite the school system facing a deadline later this month to decide how to spend school maintenance money from the state.

The county gets roughly $300 million annually from the state annually to repair, renovate and maintain schools. About 70 percent of the money is already being used to repay debt.  Salaries and other commitments already made eats up most of the rest.

Of the $300 million, Broward is left with less than $40 million annually to allocate.

The $800 million in bonds would inject additional maintenance money into the system.  The bonds would be repaid over 30 years through property taxes.

Runcie’s leaving a meeting for a campaign rally annoyed a parent with a child at Plantation High watching School Board on the Internet: “The bonds are obviously more important to Runcie than deciding which schools would get repaired, which is the business of the School Board.”

Plantation High was one of the schools that didn’t get the money promised, although it has been on plans for repairs for years. The roof of the school cafeteria leaks, sometimes into the food.

Instead of fixing the Plantation roof,  $427,000 was slated by the staff to go to Stoneman Douglas High for a parent pickup loop road.

Stoneman Douglas is a school in the district of  Board member Abby Freedman, who is one of Runcie’s strongest supporters on the Board. Just this week, Freedman and gave Runcie the best annual evaluation of any Board member.

When Runcie left, he was accompanied by Freedman and member of his staff.

“Cluster…..Runcie and his staff left for Wynmoor. No one from facilities is in the room here, live with us. Other staff pinch hitting,” one Board member texted

Taking Freedman to Wynmoor was a slap at member Nora Rupert, who is one of Runcie’s toughest critics.  Wynmoor is in Rupert’s district and not in Freedman’s Parkland-based district.

By the time Runcie and Freedman left, several Board membes and many parents were angered as schools long promised repair money were not on the priority list.


Millions of Dollars in Work Delayed 


Runcie rarely gets tough questions when he is campaigning.  Don’t expect any tonight at the Broward Democratic Party, where he is speaking in hopes of getting the party’s endorsement.

When he does, even from the School Board, he generally ducks them or defers to his staff.  Or he buries them in bewildering, unfathomable statistics and figures.

Or he straight up lies.

Not mistrepresentations.  Not spinning.

Straight up lies.

For instance, at a meeting with Pembroke Pines City Commission last week, the superintendent lied.

When asked by Pembroke Pines City Manager Charlie Dodge if school repairs scheduled to be completed already had been delayed so that it could now be paid for by the bonds, Runcie said, “Absolutely no.”

The correct answer is “absolutely yes.”

Millions of dollars of promised work already in the school schedules were transferred from the routine maintenance schedule to a list of projects to be paid for if the bond passes. Deerfield Beach, Plantation, Stranahan and Northeast Highs are among the schools that had work scheduled that is undone.

Board members were also shocked when they discovered that  schools slated to be repaired this year had not been done.

“No one on the Board anticipated we were not going to be doing work,” member Donna Korn said.

An amazing amount — up to $200 million in maintenance money — is apparently lying in the bank unused.

Was this delayed work a political attempt to give a wider group of voters a stake in the bonds?

No one knows — Probably not even Runcie’s perpetually confused staff, who also can’t seem to give a straight answer. — how projects were picked or moved out of the routine repair schedule.

But the end result is that tens of thousands of students continue to attend school in deteriorating facilities that were scheduled to be repaired by now.  These delays were done on Runcie’s watch.

So here is the key question voters should ask:  If Runcie can’t handle spending $40 million year, how can he be trusted to spend another $800 million?

24 Responses to “Runcie Abandons Board Meeting To Sell Bonds”

  1. juliet hibbs says:

    It is about time that those women join the discussion that has been going on for years. They get lied to, like we all do, but they pretend they don’t know. Give me a break

  2. Vote NO says:

    The more it goes on, the more reasons to vote NO on the bond.

  3. Surprised? says:

    Is anyone really surprised by this crew anymore? The Chief Facilities Officer was conferencing in from Chicago! Just another egotistical slap in the face to the Board members who actually gave up their entire day to try to make sense of the disaster staff is presenting. Please Mr. Runcie, tell us again how Dade County doesn’t know what they are doing. Just another reminder that Runcie and his Administrative staff do whatever they want! I have an idea, let’s form a PAC to raise money to buy out Runcie’s contract and hire someone that will clean house. The entire meeting was a disaster. I don’t know if the communities weren’t there fighting because the meeting wasn’t advertised or if they’ve just given up. I know I’m trying to figure out how I can justify entrusting my kids education and future to these idiots. What was that new state law Buddy? 20 weeks? I think we have a better chance of raising his buy out and sending him packing than we do at passing this $800 million bond! I know the schools need the money but first, they need someone honest that truly cares about our students, schools and communities to lay out a clear, sensible plan. I don’t really care what the Superintendents childhood home looked like! Our students are not only living in the same conditions but are being educated in buildings with similar conditions! Act like you care!!!

  4. voter says:

    and the ‘median age’ of Wynmoor owners/voters?
    I thought it was an over-55 crowd buying in there.
    am I wrong?

    the school bond is DOA come Nov 4.

    NO property owner wants more line item taxes added to their tax bill.

  5. count l f chodkiewicz chudzikiewicz says:

    Yes, Abby freeman is a disgrace in my opinion but the voters tr elected her. Yes district superintendent run is was unprofessional but the elected board puts up with his discourtesy n supports him. So I agree with everything in these comments but it is like seeing the iceberg on the titantic, the captain n crew won’t listen.

  6. Ghost of McLovin says:

    @#4: It doesn’t matter how old Wynmoor residents are – they vote! And a $800M tax will not affect a Wynmoor voter at all, after their $25,000 homestead exemption for schools and $50,000 exemption for everything else, they pay almost no tax on their $30,000 assessed value condos. Throw in the fact that they’re all democrats and support big government and its a win for the SB

  7. What happened? says:

    When I first read this article last night, there was a reference to a second board member that texted you Buddy about what happened and referred to Abby getting up and leaving the rest of the Board to do the work and referring to Abby as a “jerk”.

    But this morning, I don’t see that part of the article. What happened?


    (1) The rewritten piece was getting too long. I cut it.

    (2) The piece is about the bonds and Runcie, not Abby Freedman. She’s a bit player. I decided in the rewritten piece I could lose the quote.

  8. What happened? says:

    The fact that Runcie decided to trot out someone on the Board that doesn’t represent the Wynmoor area is very telling Buddy. Glad you did comment on that part.

    But I find it very interesting that the Board members feel so free to call out their colleagues and the superintendent via text to you.

    I have a feeling that Runcie is not long for his position when the bond goes down by 2 to 1 in November.

  9. Just Saying says:

    The meeting in Wynmoor was far from a pro-bond rally, it was a meeting sponsored by the League of Women voters to educate voters on all of the amendments and issues for the November ballot. Runcie did not choose to be there, he was asked to come and speak about the bond. He also didn’t choose which board member to bring, she was invited! Get over it Nora!


    He could have asked Nora to come along. Runcie is tone deaf to the implications of going to the largest condominium in a member’s district and not even inviting that member to accompany him.

  10. just the facts says:

    why didn’t runcie pitch the childrens services council tax extension as well? runcie is one of 11 on the csc board, right?

  11. Chaz Stevens, Genius says:

    >> She’s a bit player.

    Not according to the Pentagon!


    Bit player in the story I was trying to convey.

  12. Mia says:

    Seriously? Nora should get over it? I was at the Creek Convo with Mr. Runcie. Only 4 or 5 parents showed up. The fabulous STAFF couldn’t answer basic questions. It was so embarrassing ! Nora Ruppert was the only one to call them out. Bartelman was there as well. Pathetic turn out for a city like Creek. Think it’s time to move… I’m so happy my last kid graduates soon!

  13. Justsurprised says:

    rupert receiving close to 80% of vote she would be one I would take. She was where she needed to be, voting on DEFP-her job. Abby, in back of room. Not invited by Runcie, not by Dem Club, not by Wynmor, non entity. And was there a Resolution in support of any items by this group? Go back to Paakland, oh ye, they don’t like you. Recount #4 Where was runcie tonite for Budget vote? Schlepping for the Bond……

  14. Chaz Stevens, Genius says:

    >> She’s a bit player.

    Not according to the Pentagon!


    Bit player in the story I was trying to convey



  15. Ann smith says:

    This $800 million bond issue is a joke. We all know the the eastern schools badly need the repairs. But, why when a certain school board members makes mention of three of “her” schools being portable cities, at the very next workshop on the bond issue 2 of those schools get 30 million for new classrooms. What about the other schools in this county that are crowded with portables. Stoneman Douglas & Piper just to name 2 .
    Why is the Superintendent and his staff always lying to the public about the bond. Why did we spend so much money for a needs assessment to be done and allocations for that money are changed on a dime. The repairs assessment was done by our very own maintenance department and facilities repair staff. Not this company that they paid over a million dollars to. Don’t you think a fresh set of experienced eyes should have done this assessment and not by someone who is so used to seeing the despair, that they overlook it.
    Why is the Superintendent use scare tactics and telling the puplic that the badly needed repairs will not be made at the schools if the bond does not pass. The schools the Superintendent is using as his “Poster” schools will not even get the needed repairs. I spent over 30 hours in meetings and workshops about this bond issue.
    If you want to see where the money is going, “go west young man, go west”
    If the bond issue passes, I asure you Grand Jury will be busy again.

  16. Birds of a feather says:

    Nora like her mentor david brown, self centered, self serving, all bark no bite, and both lack class and couth.

    Nora has hit her glass ceiling as a politician, and sees no other way to accomplish anything by always grandstanding and tearing others down.

    IMHO many times her rants are nothing more than bullying staff and in my opinion more times than not her rants are far worse to minority staffers than white staffers, but that is just my opinion.

  17. RWR says:

    I need more CASH to hire more Special Assistants, Legislative Director, and other POS but to fire hard working honest staff in the District

  18. LCG says:

    I think it interesting that Runcie felt a democratic meeting was more important than a DEFP meeting. Runcie has a whole group of staff who could have filled in. Plus the meeting was to explain the amendments. I was surprised to see Runcie bring 3 staff members to help him speak along with Freedman She was not received very well. The Wynmoor democrats know Rupert and were surprised she was not there. Runcie did his canned speech. I guess getting the democrates on board was more of a prioity than making sure the money the district gets from the state, after all if the bond fails the district will only have the money.

  19. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:


    Since you mentioned Pembroke Pines, let me offer you an update on the meeting we held with the school board to discuss all capital funding issues, including the bond issue.

    I was actually encouraged.

    The school board has numerous new board members, not tied to the status quo of a difficult past, who seem eager to make new history for public education in Broward. In particular, I think they see the benefit of alliances, which must be earned and nurtured in politics to exist.

    You got the sense that they were realizing how lonely an island they had become. The thing about islands is they live at sea. It can be very lonely out there. So much more fun to be a continent with many friends all around you to work with and enjoy.

    They were patient and open minded in hearing from Pembroke Pines for the first time.

    In confronting their categorical denial to consider ANY charter schools for capital funding, I listed for them the following points

    First, not all charter schools are the same when it comes to capital funds. Some lease their buildings, some operate out of buildings not built to school construction standards, and these would not be appropriate for public, tax payer, capital fund investments. This is sensible policy but in Pembroke Pines Charter, all our buildings are built to school construction standards and many of the board members heard that for the first time.

    Second, not all charter schools are nationally accredited and use teachers who are state certified in their fields. Pines Charter has both.

    Third, not all charter schools pay their teachers what the district schools pay and offer them pensions. Paying teachers better is good public policy because the current rate of compensation for Florida teachers is woefully inadequate. Pines Charter pays teachers what the school board pays theirs with the same pension and frankly, slightly better benefits package.

    Fourth, not all charter schools are owned and operated by government. This may be of relative importance to some on the school board, some seemed to think that was important when earning their discretion to fund capital. Pines Charter fits that bill.

    Fifth, you can argue that charter school systems reliably reduce capacity in the traditional public school system when they operate as feeder patterns of connected elementary, middle and high schools. Pines Charter is a feeder pattern.

    Sixth, Pines Charter is a high performing charter school. There should be rewards, not punishments, for schools that excel.

    It was suggested that under these conditions, charter schools would become eligible to receive 80% of the amount of capital funds, as calculated by a per student formula, distributed to traditional public schools.

    Superintendent Runcie objected to the use of that formula. He said distributing on a per student basis was inherently unfair. Yet in his letter to charter principals, he explains that since 15% of all Broward public school students currently attend a charter school, he was setting aside 15% of the bond money to help charters with their technology needs.

    Seems to me that’s the same formula I recommended which he said he objected to. It would have been nice, by the way, had the school district actually called charters to ASK US how we would prefer to use this 15%. They didn’t.

    Yet, this is a start. I think it is a healthy start. The School Board of Broward County has finally taken written, public, articulated steps to move in the direction of using their discretion with the use of capital tax dollars more fairly with charter schools. As the saying goes, when you take a step toward Jesus, this should be rewarded.

    So I will congratulate them on their progress. I did everything I could to encourage that evolution and am glad to see it coming forward. They have much further to go and the discussions will continue.

    Last, they walked away with a clear understanding of the predicament they put us in.

    They want my city to support their new tax, yet they’re unwilling to fairly share the current tax dollars they already collect with all public school students. They heard that comment from me before, but I don’t think they truly understood it. Until we spoke about it in person.

    They understand now.

    It was the first time in my decade of service that we got more than five of the school board members to be objective, to listen, to understand an issue that for all that time seemed perfectly clear to me.

    They understood that for us this was a question of survival, When any of God’s creatures are backed into a corner like that, there are two options. Offer them an exit route or prepare for greater discomfort. Such is the nature of things.

    Some began getting it, unfortunately others may never be able to see beyond their stubborn refusal to partner.

    But as a whole, what we saw was progress and good government at work. Progress and good governance should always be encouraged. It’s refreshing in connection with the school board, and I’m thankful to see it blossom every time.

    We want them to succeed. We want them to flourish. We want all schools to do well and we want to partner with them. But it can’t be a one way street, that won’t work, and if that’s their plan, well.

    If they want to be an island, then they had better get used to the idea of living can at sea.

    So we will watch this carefully, nurture it, and see what comes from the intelligent prospect of creating a mutually supportive relationship with them.

    Or not.


  20. runcie is an idiot says:

    Runcie is a tone deaf idiot for showing up anywhere a parkland school board member is. Ally or not, parents in the rest of the county already think parkland and coral springs schools get all the goodies, while theirs languish. The perception is that its more of the same.

  21. Teachers know best says:

    It is a little ironic that runcie does not properly fund or value teachers but yet wants their support for the bond referendum. The super Does give teacher appropriate raises but yet wants the teachers to pay more in taxes to the school district.

  22. Rico Petrocelli says:

    I will use the word “assume”…I can assume that Angelo Castillo is still against the “$800 million Tax”. Although he made valid points, the School Board listened, and will do what they want, as usual.

    I am still opposed to this new “tax”, and no matter how many meetings with Republicans or Democrats the Board has, they will listen, just like Runcie listened to Angelo and his city, then vote NO….

    The SCBBC has not made a dent in their reputation for mismanagement, and overspending, and the uninformed voter will just see this as money out of their pocket, again…and Vote NO…

    The make-up of the Board HAS changed, but the voters don’t remember anything but the negative press it has received for many, many years…

    Rico Petrocelli
    Former Councilman
    City of Plantation

  23. Kevin Cerino says:

    Apparently Mr. Runcie has a pretty full calendar. He was supposed to address the Lauderhill City Commission on Monday night. He skipped the meeting, telling one of the City Commissioners that he was tied up at a board meeting:

    If this guy can’t be honest about something as simple as this, why should we believe anything he says?

  24. Mia says:

    Shameful behavior. So much misinformation out there. Liars and thieves.