School Bond Money To Bypass Most Needy Schools




Some east Broward high school students wade through foot deep puddles to get to class. Others learn in classrooms with falling ceiling tiles and exposed electrical wires.  Toilets don’t function.  Cafeterias are decaying.

But in west Broward, the biggest problem is overcrowding.  High school students have classes in portables.

So when it came time to earmark the $800 million school bonds, guess what high schools got the bulk of the money?

Once again, east Broward was snubbed by the school system.

A bigger portion of the bond proceeds is proposed to be funneled to west Broward high schools.

Getting less: Some eastern Broward highs that have waited decades for repairs.

Blame Superintendent Robert Runcie. He picked the schools.


Robert Runcie

Robert Runcie: PhD in gobbledegook 


One gauge that Runcie used appears to be the school’s capacity — the number of students in the school compared to the number it was built for. Overcrowded schools got more, although they tend to be newer western Broward highs that are in better repair.

And one school that is getting little money looks like political payback by Runcie: Coconut Creek High.

Although it is least 40 years old and a poster child for schools that need repair, Coconut Creek High is in the center of School Board member Nora Rupert’s district.

Rupert is Runcie’s toughest critic on the Board.

Runcie was hired from Chicago. I guess dissing Coconut Creek is a little of Runcie’s hardball Windy-City governance.

Coconut Creek, which opened in 1970, is getting $3.284 million from the bond issue if voters approve it in November.

Contrast that with $5.785 million slated for Monarch High in Coconut Creek, which opened in 2003.

Or the $18.402 million going to Cypress Bay in Weston, most of which will replace portables with permanent classrooms. Cypress Bay High is the second most overcrowded school in the system.

Nova is the most overcrowded. First opened in the 1960s and in need of renovation, Nova would get $23 million.

But there is also a political reason for giving Nova the most. It draws students from the whole county and has among the most vocal parent group.

Boyd Anderson, a high school that has numerous defects, gets only $3.872 million. The school is in Lauderdale Lakes and the parents aren’t as politically potent as those in Weston or who send their children to Nova.

Only three high schools get the much-trumpeted bond proceeds for arts and music –Stoneman Douglas, a Parkland school, which gets half the money while Miramar and Nova split the rest.

I could go on and on how this list is inequitable.


Bond Plan’s Failure


It is all the work of Runcie.

Last week Runcie briskly dismissed suggestions by Board members that they help pick the schools getting the money. He said they would have no role in the process.

Runcie said he used a computer program developed by his staff. The staff must have PhD’s in Gobbledygook because the process he explained was indecipherable.

Even Runcie admitted the process was too complicated for the average voters.  They don’t need to know the details, he said.

School Board members had a role in wasting past bond proceeds, according to two Grand Juries. But this misspending, according to jurors, was facilitated by the staff every step of the way.

So taking the bond priorities out of the hands of the elected School Board and turning it over to the unelected Runcie doesn’t take the potential misspending out of the process.

Amazingly enough, most Board members sat still for this power play. Then again, the Board allowed Runcie to rush through this undercooked plan.

This bond referendum is headed for disaster. There is not one move so far that gives me confidence it will pass.

That may be a good thing, because how can Runcie spend $800 million wisely if he can’t run a simple bond referendum.

If this fails, Runcie is at fault. It is all in his lap. He should be sent packing.

Oh, he can’t be sent packing. The School Board handed him a contract that lasts until October 2019.



23 Responses to “School Bond Money To Bypass Most Needy Schools”

  1. carolina says:

    How on earth could the board have extended mr. runcie’s contract till 2019? What was their justification in making this hasty decision so early in the game? He has not been in office long enough yet to prove himself. They should at least have waited until 2016 to do this.

    I have two predictions:

    #1 – he will be long gone before 2019 with a hefty buyout.

    #2 – the bond issue will go down, down, down!

    My wish: that all board members who voted on this contract extension should be voted out of office in November.

  2. Oscar says:

    Yeah, there’s some good logic…the voters don’t need to know how we determined where to spend the money….trust us.

    I think not.

  3. Irate Stakeholder says:

    Looks to me like Runcie finally figured out that his little Bond wouldn’t pass without the support of the western schools and their voters. According to the documents for tomorrow’s workshop, West Broward, a brand new school, is getting a single point of entry and so is Marjory Stoneman Douglas in Parkland. Thats funny, both schools already have a single point of entry! Also, Cypress Bay’s overcrowding could be resolved by redoing the boundaries and utilizing the empty wing at West Broward High School. Nova’s overcrowding could be resolved by simply putting a cap on the number of students they pull from their lottery. It looks to me like the shady politician, Runcie, could care less where the bond money goes, as long as he can add it to his resume. Maybe when he is done destroying Broward, he can go work with his brother who is the Chief Operating Officer for the Federal Student Aid Program in Washington’s Department of Education. Another slap in the face to deteriorating eastern schools. My vote is NO and I would vote for anyone that would stand up to Runcie’s arrogance! GET RID OF HIM!

  4. Charlotte Greenbarg says:

    And you expected maybe something different this time?

    The District is run by too many stupid,arrogant, delusional people. Business as usual in Broward County.

  5. Uh Oh says:

    When someone in government tells the people “you are not smart enough to understand this,” the B.S. alarm should ring loudly.

  6. Sam The Sham says:

    I’m shocked! Shocked I say! Bond money to be misspent in Broward? How can it be?

    One thing about Monarch High. It is also in Coconut Creek, just a few miles from C. Creek High. And practically brand new.

    Runcie with a contract until 2019! That is crazy!

  7. Notocorruption says:

    The Board gave the Superintendent a 5-year contract only two years into his first, 3-year contract. These Board members are TOTAL fools. When the bond issue does not pass, Runcie will be either looking to leave or be forced out. Either way, Broward residents pay the guaranteed contract. Broward voters need to cut their losses now, defeat the bond issue and oust the Superintendent and his henchmen.

  8. Alice McGill says:

    The whole plan appears to be upside down and backwards. Nova’s building is a physical mess, but why is the school overcrowded? It is not ruled by boundaries so the school should be able to manage the number of students that it accepts. Idea: change Nova to a district school and have it accept students from the overcrowded western schools only. Why? Nova’s curriculum is no longer different from any other school.
    Idea: Consolidate some of the eastern schools with empty desks. Why? To save money on repairs at buildings that are no longer needed.
    Idea: Move the severely disabled students that were mainstreamed into middle and high school buildings back into the centers that were specifically designed to meet the unique needs of those students. Why? The exceptional students would have access to the best learning environment for them. Classrooms in overcrowded schools would be available to “in boundary” students.
    Idea: Fix the physical defects such as leaking roofs and broken bathrooms in the eastern schools. Why? Students cannot concentrate if water drips on them and toilets do not flush. Basic human needs must be met.
    Idea: Throw out this convoluted plan and the superintendent who created it. Use the knowledge of the school staffs, district maintenance, and the facilities department to make a realistic “punch list” for repairs at schools. The real needs are already known.
    Idea: Vote NO. The bond issue is inadequate.

  9. Floridan says:

    Monarch High on the edge of the Everglades.

    Monarch High is east of 441. In fact, it is only a couple hundred yards more westerly than Coconut Creek High.


    Right you are. I mistakenly confused it with another school. Still, it is only a decade old having opened in 2003. Coconut Creek High opened in 1970.

  10. East sider says:

    It is all pure politics. Runcie and Co are not as dumb as everyone thinks. The largest concentration of votes in the County is the South and the West.

    The minority schools in Dr. Osgood’s District are getting a large share. Hollywood schools are getting theirs.

    The unfortunate reality is that most people in Fort Lauderdale who have the means to send their children to private or charter schools do so. The City of Fort Lauderdale refused to do a workshop on the bond issue.

    It is clear to everyone that the City and its residents, absent the poor who have to send their kids to these rotting schools, would never support the bond one way or another. Is that fair or right, not at all, but that is the way it is.

    Fort Lauderdale residents are not dumb, they know even if the bond passes and they got the same amount of money as west schools little would change for them in the near future to take their kids out of private school to send them to a public middle or high school.


    If what you are saying is true, Runcie and his cohorts are straight up liars because they have said numerous times they took politics out of the process.

  11. Andrew Ladanowski says:

    I agree with Pembroke Pines City Commissioner Angelo Castillo, Runcie has completely ignored them. Why are tax payers who send their kids to charter schools interested in paying higher taxes to pay for repairs of Broward county schools. They want money for their kid’s schools to.

    Charter schools are popping up everywhere. The majority of them in freshly renovated facilities with brand new technology, with no overcrowding, no leaking roofs and no mold and mildew problems. These schools receives significantly less funding, some claim only 70% of the funding of Broward county and still manage to make a proffit.

    The majority of the school board and senior management keep criticizing all the failed charter schools. If the board and staff would focus on roof has leaks, failing academically, waists and inefficiencies, parents wouldn’t be leaving the public school system.

    The interesting part is when a charter school is mismanaged it closes. The staff and owners are held accountable and simply lose their livelihood, like any other business. When a school in Broward county schools is mismanaged, by either not meeting academic standards we simply move the staff around. No one is fired. Similarly when buildings are not properly maintained students and staff suffer but no one is fired.

    If Broward County Schools was a privately managed company it would have declared bankruptcy years ago. Instead, it is asking it shareholders, the tax payers for more money. If we are so desperate for money, why hasn’t senior management offered some thing. If they are asking the public to make sacrifices by raising taxes, why haven’t they made an offer, like all senior management making over 100k take a 10% pay cut if the bond goes thru. They haven’t made this offer.

    We don’t even know in five years if Broward county schools will have children in public schools, or will they all be in charter schools.

    Runcie recently bragged that there management fees within the district are one of the lowest in the state. Congratulations on your creative accounting, the public does not buy it. Facts we do know. We have numerous overcrowding and substandard schools with mold and mildew that I would not even consider acceptable for prisoners, let alone my child, and the board has mismanaged money for years.

    More promises made, more promises broken. Runcie promised transportation costs would be reduced significantly when he arrived. He’s failed. No significant reduction, just promises we will get better. Approximately 30 million dollars is taken from the classroom and put into transportation each year. School boards own internal documents show that there internal lawn service costs are three times more than simply outsourced costs. Nothing done to correct this.

    We have our own internal police department with a budget of easily over 2 million dollars. These are not to be mistaken with resource officers in the classroom. These are for internal investigations, also known as the cover up department. No privately run charter school has it’s own police department. If you want open and transparent and public trust, you have a crime or suspect a crime you call the police and have an open and external investigation. Close the department and put the 2 million dollars in to a new roof.

    We even learned that we have approximately 30 police officers free loading in trailers. That’s right they live on campus in a trailer to deter crime. No rent, no electric bill, no water bill, no property taxes. Best of all, they have no contract, so they have no obligation to do anything. Better yet the guy who runs the program ensured that he benefits from the program. Sorry, no formal application process. You must know a friend or have a parent who is retiring and wants to pass it on to you. They bring their pets on campus, wives, kids, trailers, boats, hot tubs in disrepair and even add it appears unpermitted sheds with air conditioning. Small leaks of money when you consider a 3 billion dollar budget, but you need to start somewhere. Nothing done to correct this.

    We need to look what we can learn from the majority of Charter Schools. The majority have costs that are significantly lower than Broward County Schools and they still make a profit. How? How come they are attracting thousands of new students each year and Broward County Schools keeps losing them.

    Arthur Ashe Middle School and Lauderdale Manors Elementary were repurposed in Broward County at the end of the 2012/2013 school year. The kids that were attending these schools were dispersed to other schools. Did the kids grades suffer in the following year, or did they improve. The data is available to superintend Runcie, will he make it available to the public.

    The “Needs Assessment” should have been a “Needs and Equality Assessment“ and obviously it’s not. No equality to the students in the east, no equality to kids in charter schools.

    Nova’s overcrowding could be resolved by simply putting a cap on the number of students they pull from their lottery, and this would also reduce the transportation budget.


    One more thing. The number one complaint about the public schools I received while at the Sun-Sentinel: The arrogance and non-responsiveness of the administrators and, sometimes, teachers.

    In my experience, charter schools are parent friendly.

    Teachers interact with the parents. Most parents are contacted by their child’s teachers much more often than parents of traditional public school students. Its a requirement of employment.

    Many schools require parents to put in volunteer hours, letting them see first hand what is happening inside the charter.

    Administrators in well-run charters are responsive to parents.

    Parents have told me that they have a better experience.

  12. Ghost of McLovin says:

    Vote No against this $800M tax. $18M just for Cypress Bay for a permanent replacement of portables, as well as MONEY FOR ATHLETICS. I don’t think so – let the rich parents run a booster club like everyone else

  13. Jesus Christ says:

    We need more schools. Portables are fine. Don’t waste money improving stuff like that. Why am I driving my child to school at plantation high which is almost at 441 when I live west of 136? School board districts shouldn’t span half the county.

  14. Becky Blackwood says:

    Remember I said, you have to start with the 1st step – that is identifying all of the NEEDS (Needs Assessment) and deficiencies at each school. I gather someone downloaded the Needs Assessment and PRESUMED (notice I didn’t say assume)only certain schools would receive money and the east side schools would be left out. That is not so.

    The next step is prioritizing those schools (east,west,north,south) equitably who deficiencies are the most dire and as you identified above, most of those are in the east side of Broward County.

    Remember in previous posts, I told you the deficiencies would be prioritized by Safety Code requirements, Roofs, Building Envelope, Music and Art, Cafeterias, Media Centers, Athletics and Assembly. THAT HAS YET TO BE DONE. These priorities will be established by the total deficiencies in each building to determine if they are greater than 65% of the costs of the total building. If they are less, they will be considered for renovation.

    I was at the Board Workshop this morning. It might help if others would take time and view these workshops to really understand the process of prioritizing to determine which buildings or school sites will be addressed first. Blanche Ely High School, Nova High School, Stranahan High, Northeast High are some of those with the highest deficiencies. You can go to the Broward Schools website to the Board Agendas Board Workshop on 8/12/14 to find the Needs Assessments list.

    The Board members asked today about the items on the lists to clarify any possible questions for the public as well as information to define the list items.

    The Needs Assessment list will be revised again once the priorities above are listed in the order above by school. That would be the best time to view the lists. This is scheduled to be completed by the end of August.

    Eight hundred million will not cover all of the deficiencies on these lists. Even the Board members recognize it is more important to remediate those schools that are unhealthy and prevent children from learning than replace healthy portables with permanent buildings for those students who have classes there.

    I would like to encourage everyone to watch the Board Workshop, even go to the Workshop if you can get away from work but watch the process that is happening – it is the first time in more than 20 years and the public can be involved by watching.

    Athletics is lower on the list than Safety (fire alarms, single entry,etc.) code items, Roofs, Building Envelopes (as listed above). In fact, it is next to the last item.

    Remember – charter schools received the largest sum of school maintenance money last year while a minimal amount was given to our District. No maintenance money- no maintenance on the buildings.

    Make certain the information you are receiving is accurate. Portables will not be replaced with permanent buildings in this bond unless the portable is in such disrepair (more than 65% of the building), it has to be replaced. Board members asked that portables be included in the Needs Assessment to demonstrate to the public what it would cost to replace those portables with newly constructed permanent buildings – that is where that figure came from. With this bond, there is no money to replace healthy portables with a permanent building. We are talking about 250 public schools. How many charter schools are in this District? The Lottery money was removed from public schools by our legislatures. The Tools for Schools (our tax dollars) was sent back to Washington, D.C. to be given to another state by our present governor. Our present governor reduced the amount of public school funding per student, then gave half of it back this year. In 2000-2004, we had $1.3 billion dollars for school construction and it was misspent by previous superintendents. Follow the process and follow the money. Stay involved. I plan to and I will speak out against any corruption, which I have done in the past. The public school system must not fail and the public needs to realize its importance and get involved instead of trying to replace it with a system that has its failures, too.

  15. Floridan says:

    Why are tax payers who send their kids to charter schools interested in paying higher taxes to pay for repairs of Broward county schools.

    This is exactly why the Florida Legislature set up the charter school legislation in the manner it exists — to degrade public schools. They knew the “what’s in it for me right now” sentiment would prevail and work toward their goal of destroying public education in the state.

  16. What's up with dat? says:

    Hey wait a second. I live in Coral Springs and the big broo ha ha with Abby Freedman was her saying the district has no ability to build permanent capacity so my kids might get moved out of the schools in Parkland they attend.

    She said this was the case even if there was money.

    So if what she said was true, how can the bind be used to build permanent capacity seating in Weston?

    I guess just more lies and misinformation from Abby. If she doesn’t know the answer (which is most f the time), I guess she just makes it up.

  17. Transparency? says:

    Clearly Runcie has the Sentinel in his back pocket! Meanwhile, back in the real world Runcie’s staff can’t explain anything! This “methodology” is about as transparent as a brick wall! I must say, West Broward’s staff is looking forward to their new media center. Can you imagine having to sit in a 6 year old media center? Torture! Maybe Runcie and his staff should hire Dade County to train them on how to get it right! Kudos to Brinkworth for grilling them this morning! I heard Bartleman mention parents crying over boundary changes. I wonder how many parents will be crying when Runcie closes deteriorating schools and busses the students out west? How will residents respond to vacant rotting schools sitting in their neighborhoods? Wake up Broward!

  18. Charlotte Greenbarg says:

    Becky, speaking out against corruption unfortunately doesn’t prevent it in this district. I saw the workshop too, and saw Ms. Rich Levinson “steaming” as one who was there told me, when Chair Good spoke about not building permanent capacity to replace portables. They’re already at each other’s throats over east v. west.

    All of the warnings you’re giving are the sorry history of this district and the Legislature that made a wash out of the Lottery money by taking exactly the same amount it generated out of the education budget. This was done when the D’s were in power, so cutting is a bi-partisan affront.

    The traditional public school system has failed the special ed, poor and minority families for years, and the explosion of the popularity of charters and alternative schools bears witness to the failure.

    Want to save the education system from itself? Push for state oversight and an I.G. for every district

    The District is so very clever about moving projects and money that an “oversight” committee without power to hold anyone accountable will be just more window dressing.

    You are a warrior for honesty, but you won’t be able to do anything about the corruption that will follow if they get another $800 million. You don’t have the power to do anything about it and that’s the sad reality.

  19. Naked Truth says:

    @15. The school boards and unions played a very strong role in the creation of charter school legislation. They specifically asked that capital funding be discretionary for charters knowing this would help them fail. That is the complete reverse of what 15 is saying. Greenbarg is correct that the school board needs an IG. Smaller school districts would also make sense.

  20. Great Scott? NOT says:

    An IG? Really? What a colossal waste of time and money. This guys and his office have done nothing since being established over three years about. Even with your precious Rhodes there to help him nothing has been uncovered or prevented. Believe me, I know. I see if every day in the municipalities. The municipal elected’s have no fear of being caught in their nonsense. Lauderhill, Lauderdale Lake, Miramar…..
    I have posted things on this blog several times asking for IG Scott’s attention and nothing has changed or even been looked into.
    So before you go asking for the tax payers to spend money on an additional layer of government oversight why don’t we make sure that the model is effective.
    Because I am Taxed Enough Already!

  21. Becky Blackwood says:

    I keep pushing for the Inspector General to be involved but right now that is on deaf ears. If more of the public would clamor for their oversight, it just might happen. Contact your School Board member and insist on it.

    There is no money to replace temporary good conditioned portables with permanent buildings.

    There is very little oversight on charter schools either. If most of the money for school maintenance went to charter schools last year, doesn’t that mean they have received state public education funds that were denied public schools?

    I realize it is difficult to understand the design/construction process just by some of the comments above. It really isn’t as simple as people think. Miami Dade County installed an Inspector General in 1996-1997 after I left there. I think a public oversight committee selected by the Superintendent would have as much difficulty understanding the design/construction process as the School Board members.

    Charlotte, I was one of the ones who gave you information regarding the corruption when you represented Lois Wexler. Till threatened to fire me if I spoke with any board member or their reps. I tried to talk with Maureen Dineen when she ran for School Board but no one wants to hear reality. Did anyone at least go in and look at the Needs Assessment before they commented?
    Both Donna Korn and Laurie Rich Levinson asked for the portables to be listed under temporary to include them in projected future permanent buildings replacements in the workshop the previous week. When I was there this past Tuesday, there appeared to be a consensus of the Board to address those schools and their buildings which had the highest number of deficiencies as was identified on the Needs Assessment lists in dollar amounts by the categories above.

    Again, I ask, what will become of these buildings if the bond doesn’t pass and they continue to increase and worsen the deficiencies they now have? Someone come up with another and better solution.

  22. count l f chodkiewicz chudzikiewicz says:

    Yes miss greenbarg special needs minority and poor children get lousey educations compared to their needs but their parents don’t vote don’t volunteer or go to meetings n don’t give political donations or fundraiser. Look at pet owners environmental activists or even preservationists and library supporters in parts of Florida, endlessly lobbying n active. Where are the minority or poor advocates? Sharief n holness? Chris smith or Alcee Hastings? At what point in a democracy are people responsible for advocating for themselves? You and buddy begins work hard to improve peoples lot for societys ignored but why can’t they do something themselves?

  23. Charlotte Greenbarg says:


    What you’re saying validates what I told you speaking out would accomplish in this district. Nothing. What will happen to the schools? The district will have to use the millions they have much more wisely. More schools will have to be repurposed or combined with others that have low enrollment.

    On the agenda for the next board meeting is JJ3. The district proposes to give the Norcrest contractor what the Office of the Chief Auditor says shouldn’t be given. Imagine that. They’re crying poor, but giving contractors money.

    Will any of the board members ask any questions, or don’t they want the public to hear what Pat Reilly has to say? You have three guesses and the last two don’t count.

    Count, I have worked with the poor and minority and ESE families for a long time. Most do care about their children just as rich parents do. The ESE families have been incredibly abused to make it worse. Hence McKay scholarships.

    They try to advocate, but get as far as Becky and I have with these educrats. That’s why an IG from the state with powers needed to bring reform to this district is what we’re demanding.

    Remember, it was widely reported that then-Senator Nan Rich prevailed upon then-Senate President Gaetz not to put in an oversight committee after the Grand Jury ripped the district.

    Many of the poor families have relatives who work for the district, and they’re rightfully afraid of retribution.

    We do know how to help them educationally, but none of the districts want to implement what a black man, Yale psychiatrist James P. Comer, accomplished in the 60’s with the poorest of the poor in New Haven.

    Charter schools succeed because of the districts’ treatment of unempowered people. Work with families for a while and you’ll be educated well.