School Bonds’ Fuzzy Math Doesn’t Add Up: Administrators Admit Millions of Dollars In Mistakes!




The School Board meeting this week brought back memories.

Memories of the fuzzy math from the fuzzy minds of school administrators.

Memories of the past broken promises.

Discussing the $800 million in proposed bonds, Superintendent Robert Runcie’s top staff made a jaw dropping admission: They have little idea what the planned renovations and improvements will cost.

This admission came after staff distributed an intricate and detailed budget for spending the $800 million complete with color diagrams and charts.

No sooner was this presentation in the hands of the School Board and public than the staff conceded: It wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on.

It was worthless because it was filled with phony figures.


It was if Runcie and his staff were channeling the late Mike Garrison, the school construction chief criticized for bogus budgets and cost overruns.

The staff’s amazing confession came under intense questioning from School Board member Heather Brinkworth.

Brinkworth was curious about the list of projects that the staff had prepared. Here is what she found:


  • Administrators admitted they mistakenly listed the cost of constructing single points of entry at 10 high schools for the exact same $252,000. This is an impossibility since every school has a unique footprint and different acreage. “We did not get into the specific scope at each school. There was not time,” said one administrator. He added the costs could be “more or less.”
  • Schools were put on the list that already had the work done years ago. The schools are listed on the School Board’s own website as having single points of entry work completed years ago. The staff said that the website was incorrect and the schools had further work that needed to be done. If the public can’t trust the School Board’s own website, how can they trust anything that comes from them?
  •  Sheridan Tech construction was off by more than $3 million! The school was listed as getting $3.9 million improvements worth from the bonds. The staff admitted they made a mistake and the figure is really $500,000.


It went on like that for more than five hours on Tuesday.

The $118 million listed in the budget for “safety” was really more than $140 million, the staff conceded.

The $13.9 million slated for music and art was really $12.6 million, they admitted.

Then Alanna Mersinger, a Miramar activist, stood up and told what she found in the budget for the bond spending:

  • Changing tables costing $500 apiece.
  • Electric outlets costing $365 apiece.
  • Three-by-seven foot doors with a price tag of $4,340 apiece.
  • A 1.5 ton window air conditioner for $6,173.
  • Signs on the exterior of classrooms for $171 apiece.


“I don’t know where you are buying this stuff,” she said. “…I have to be comfortable that every dollar is going to the children. It doesn’t appear to be….I see overspending.”

The staff said the prices were “averages.”

This bond referendum will pass or fail on trust:

Do voters trust the School Board and school staff to spend money wisely?

Runcie’s rushed budget, filled with figures his own staff admits are fake, is not a way to win trust. The concession that costs could be “more or less” is not a way to win trust.

It’s a way to lose it.

36 Responses to “School Bonds’ Fuzzy Math Doesn’t Add Up: Administrators Admit Millions of Dollars In Mistakes!”

  1. Andrew Ladanowski says:

    Nice work Alanna Mersinger everyone else missed that.

  2. Former Readers says:

    How did the Sun-Sentinel miss this? It seems like a big story.


    Who knows? This all happened at a public School Board meeting.

    Earlier this year, Superintendent Runcie suggested giving three of his administrators a raise of 22.5%. It happened at a public School Board meeting. This website,, broke the story. The Sun-Sentinel wrote the story a week later.

    I could give you numerous similar examples where this website, DailyBroward, Browardbulldog, and others scooped the dozens of professionals at the Sun-Sentinel.

    Their failure to cover basic Broward County news is just one more sign that print media is dying.

  3. Sick of It says:

    The talk on the street is that Runcie held a shredding party at his HQ to remove any proof of the promises that were made in the past and broken.

  4. Real Deal says:

    Ok. That basically does it for me. I have no doubts in my mind left. No.

  5. Real Deal says:

    Oh. And an independent inspector general, with independent ability to audit and investigate, would have found this. Because that’s what accountants are supposed to do is double check figures. Runcie needs to be hiding his head in shame. How can a guy with a Harvard degree be that sloppy on an issue this important?

  6. Alice McGill says:

    I guess this is what the school system gets when it hires a person with business skills as a superintendent. Runcie is maneuvering to give the “business” to taxpayers.

    Voters can always say “NO”.

    Thank you to those who actually researched the fuzzy math. Brings back memories of Nancy Pelosi saying, “We just need to sign the Affordable Care Act, we can read it later. Just sign it now.”

  7. Real Deal says:

    Alice, asking a PhD a manage a huge school district is like hiring a plumber to do the job of a carpenter. The job absolutely requires someone with management ability. Judging from this column we don’t seem to have either at the moment.

  8. Ghost of McLovin says:

    I’ll never vote for this TAX, but I wonder if the costs included the LABOR to install/maintain? $365 for an electrical outlet that costs a couple of bucks? Sure, when you are paying $300 an hour in labor to union employees and connected contractors. Just Vote No.

  9. Uh-oh! says:

    They handed out folders at the meeting, so you had to be present to get the details.

    They said they were not closing schools, just buildings. Shouldn’t the list of projects detail the building number impacted by the project? How do we know which buildings are no longer going to be maintained?

    As an aside, has anyone else noticed in the job descriptions that in order to progress up the career ladder “performance has MET or exceeded the expectations”. Don’t know about anyone else, but I never got promoted for doing my job. I had to do the requirements of the next level up for a couple years before I got promoted. They also have a job description for Minority/Women Business Enterprise. In the corporate world, we don’t create a position for every goal we want to achieve. The CEO delegates to the Sr. VP, who delegates to the VP etc. until someone is assigned the task of figuring out how to achieve the goal.

    Has anyone seen the final costs for the 30 elementary schools that require an extra hour? He said it would be on the website, but I have had no luck finding it.

  10. steve feldman says:

    I will try to work with Bob to try to figure out where the money should go and the correct amounts within the next few months.

  11. count l f chodkiewicz chudzikiewicz says:

    How do these clowns get awsy with this? Where are the jim defede, bob norman,
    Mike putney stories about this?

  12. J T Juarez says:


  13. Former School Board Insider says:

    The more things change, the more they stay the same.

    Unfortunately, the new boss is the same as the old boss[es].

    And since when should the bond, which is supposed to maintain buildings, be used to replace portables?? Really?? Change boundaries, or live in portables like the rest of the county is.

    Disgusting. VOTE NO!!!

  14. Rober Runcie MUSY GO says:

    The school Board is just as bad as when Jennifer Gottlieb was around. Why does Runcie have such a long term contract? Who will hold him accountable for this debacle-and this is a HUGE DEBACLE

  15. Mia says:

    Buddy it is Garretson.i can remember back in the day when they dropped like flies. More of the same!

  16. Loyal Transportation Employee says:

    Runcie is counting on school employees pass this referendum and had administrators selling it to the staff this week. Runcie will find out in November that we don’t like him and his arrogant mob he surrounds himself with like Blackburn. We don’t believe anything he says after he screwed us.

  17. Wishes says:

    I wish your site had a “like” button.

  18. s only says:

    I heard teachers are being paid their regular “hourly rate” to teach an extra hour at the 30 schools, not that they don’t deserve it. I also heard that principals are “talking up” the bond issue. There is still such waste in the system.
    Buddy, thanks for revealing some of the errors in the numbers. I’m sure there are plenty more. I don’t trust them at all.
    Fuzzy math, fuzzy administration.

  19. carolina says:

    I responded to an earlier topic & I still believe what I predicted in my response to that article will happen:

    mr. runcie will be long gone by 2019 with a huge buy-out, that will be absorbed by us taxpayers.

    If you have the interests of our children, our teachers, our schools at heart- vote no on this bond issue.



  20. Becky Blackwood says:

    I was at the workshop when the issue of the single point of entry came up. Jerry Graziose, the head of Safety, was the individual who supplied the single entry info (managed this scope of work) because his department provided the funding for those entries. He spoke and said even though the info on the website stated the single points of entry projects were not complete, some portions of the scope of work were. Mr. Messier stated this info would be confirmed and the NEEDS ASSESSMENT would be adjusted accordingly.

    As to Ms. Mersinger’s comments about costs. School construction is not residential construction and the specifications are far more strict than what a family uses in their home versus 20 to 30 children per class, 750 to 1000 students in an elementary, 1750 in a middle school and in some cases more than 2750 students use in a high school.

    State law and industry code requirements for educational facilities are far more strict because the first line of defense in a school is the safety of children. I do not have the specifications on the items she spoke about but I can say if the doors are 4 hour fire rated doors, which are in fire rated corridors to allow students to safely exit a school that could be on fire. It is not just the door(s), it also is the jamb (which is also fire rated), the hardware including the closer (closing slower than a normal commercial closer) and the hinges and door handles, the labor to install and paint. I can remember talking to a board member who asked why elementary schools require more fire sprinklers than their condominium – because the individuals who are being protected do not have any experience to escape from a hazardous condition and there is only a one teacher to a classroom to help them safely exit a dangerous situation. The reason there have been fewer deaths caused by hazardous conditions in schools is because of these strict safety prevention requirements. The code restrictions were enacted in reaction to a catastrophic event, i.e., major fires and deadly smoke. If the electrical outlet is a four-plex ground fault intercepter (GFI) to prevent death by electrical shock. That could explain the costs plus the wiring and the labor to install. As to signs, these are required to assist firemen in finding the appropriate area or room where a fire may occur. It also helps the public find the students’ rooms.

    Someone failed to mention that the District will be providing funds for computer technology for the charter schools.

    Let’s see, 250 schools’ deficiencies numbering in the tens of thousands – proposed solution. Let’s throw out the baby with the bath water when there are 3 errors. This report was generated in less than 3 weeks after the collected data was completed. I am certain there are more errors – but is it okay to just let our public schools continue to fall apart because of it?

    Urge your readers instead to ask for the Inspector General. Keep an eye on the process to insure the errors are corrected.

    The next step in the process is to break out all of the deficiencies at each school; then prioritizing those deficiencies as to highest needs; then selecting project architects and engineers who will have to review the scopes of work at each campus before starting the design process of programming, design development and the construction documents for plan review, completion and bidding. If a building at a school has more than 65% of its total value in deficiencies, it should not be used for educational purposes. But that will cause further decisions to be made about how to address the educational necessity left void by the loss of the building.

  21. Letitgo says:

    Runcie is arrogant,and detached. Blackburn is even more arrogant,and forgets where he came from,or how he acted as a teacher/administrator. His “do not suspend black males crap has caused the school system to go out of control. This year,we must now “concentrate” on black males. This could be a good thing,but whe you let these boys get away with fighting,disrespect,disruptive behavior, everyone else suffers. He also,love to go after white teachers.

  22. just one vote NO says:

    @Loyal Transportation Employee
    on the broward soe website as of yesterday there are 540,967 democrats, 234,966 republicans and 281,472 for a grand Total of 1,057,405.
    If half turn out to vote in Nov on this bond nonsense, and most will vote NO (like me) there are not enough broward school employees to pass this. Not all of them live in broward.
    so as long as Buddy keeps this front and center and taxpayers say NO, the bond is DOA on Nov. 4.

  23. tom james says:

    another good reason to vote out most of the current board, vote NO on the bond issue and send Ducnie and his crew packing in November!
    fire him for incompetence and tell him “see you in court”!

  24. PandaBear says:

    Mistake???!! roflmao Check out their pockets and bank accounts, that’s where the “mistakes” are!
    Have you guys had enough proof yet? Just vote NO! It’s what I’ve been saying all along.

  25. School Board Employees says:

    Don’t assume that all school board employees will vote YES on the bond. We are being silenced to voice our opinions fearing retribution from the powers above. But when we get into the voting booth, many school employees will vote NO on the bond. We are on the front lines and see the district’s waste and mismanagement.

  26. count l f chodkiewicz chudzikiewicz says:

    Why have all the independent non partisan tax payers groups all over south Florida folded up and all we taxpayers we are publicly funded non profits advocating mindless higher taxes n more unviewed government spending. Even the once respected league of women voters n national council of Jewish women have been taken over by leftwing minded mindless big spending self seeking non profit advocates

  27. says:

    Our take on the bond issue can be found here:

    To comment on Buddy’s take on “the scoop.” It’s nice to think that any one journalist or organization is responsible for breaking a news story. Unfortunately, it’s not always “the breaking” of the story that’s important, but more so a topic to encourage numerous journalists to explore an issue on their own which and inspire further discussion and findings on issues that can lead to potential solutions. I believe the reason regional news rags like the have become soft is because a large portion of their income comes from government advertising, along with businesses that benefit from government contracts. Online pubs like Buddy’s and others mentioned (unfortunately he did not include – a pub that has reported on the discrepancies of CRA’s, in particular Margate’s) long before Browardbulldog and others)don’t depend on the same type of revenue stream. In fact, most of us know we don’t make much doing what we do. So hats off to you Buddy and others that pick up the slack for mainstream media.


    I apologize for not including in my list of news outlets that often cover stories missed by the Old Media, i.e., the Sun-Sentinel.

  28. Ha Ha Ha says:

    @27 – The linked article observes that “…parents in the public school system somehow need to be held accountable for ensuring that their children speak and understand English, know hygiene and possess basic social skills prior to entering the classroom. Doing so will reduce babysitting factors for teachers and better enable a system of education where children from multiple socioeconomic backgrounds can learn and progress together. A problem facing public education in South Florida is a conversation few are having: public schools are overrun with under-assimilated children put there by undereducated parents who can barely read, write or speak English themselves. These families have relied on the system to raise their children and in doing so have placed an insurmountable burden on teachers, school administrators and the taxpaying public….

    The truth of the matter is that parents have never been held accountable for any of those things, and that children have the constitutional right to receive a public education regardless of how badly behaved their parents might be. Parents can be in prison, comatose, mentally ill, or in many other ways unable to satisfy the standards you describe.

    The right to education is not the right of the parents – it is the right of the child. Giving every child a free public education is not “an insurmountable burden” – in fact, it has been accomplished every day for many decades now. We already have “a system of education where children from multiple socioeconomic backgrounds can learn and progress together” – that’s exactly the benefit that public education delivers each and every day.

  29. Come on now says:

    Now that the McLean story is dead, if there is news in margate who really cares.

  30. asking? says:

    Buddy, here is my question. Friend called and said she received a call from a Principal, acting as the Principal not as a private citizen, regarding bond issue. She wants to know if Principal is acting as a lobbyist for school board and if so, do they need to register as such?


    No, he doesn’t have to register. However, it is unseemly for a boss to lobby his employee to vote a particularly way in an election.

    I understand the principals are under pressure to get their teachers’ support on the bond issue. That pressure comes directly from Superintendent Robert Runcie. Principals work at the pleasure of Runcie so this tactic is highly improper. The principals are just doing what they are being forced to do.

    Let me tell a personal story. I was an editor at the Sun-Sentinel when the Tribune Company fomented a strike at the New York Daily News in an attempt to break the unions. My bosses ordered me to encourage my reporters to help break the strike. These reporters would be sent to New York, cross the picket line as scabs and put out the Daily News.

    I did just the opposite. I told my reporters that working as a scab would damage their careers by making them enemies in many of the newspapers where they desired to eventually work. Nobody likes reporters who side with the company against their fellow reporters, I told them.

    None of my reporters went to New York.

    Nothing happened to me.

    Individual principals may have not have the guts to stand up to Runcie and not publicly support the bonds. But they are fools if they believe anything Runcie and his pro-bond crew are telling them about improvements to their schools.

    The good news is that ballots are still secret in the U.S. Nobody can actually force a teacher to vote any way.

  31. Just asking? says:

    Who said that the person the principal called was a teacher? There are hundreds of teachers in Broward. If they have an opinion on the bond who is to tell them they can’t? They are tax payers. Either way, if they are “educating” on the merits of the bond it is completely legal.

  32. Keep it up!!! says:

    “Intense questioning” is almost an understatement! School Board member, Heather Brinkworth grilled the staff until lunch. Staff looked flustered and extremely nervous. As usual, no one could give specifics as to why schools were on the list to receive repairs or upgrades that were already completed. Unfortunately most board members trust that Runcie’s staff is honest and giving them the facts!! I was relieved to see that Brinkworth did some research prior to the meeting. I know for a FACT that many of the schools listed have a single point of entry that was completed to code and signed off by staff! Don’t try to sell the public on a lie to get their vote! Runcie is relying on school board employees to support his bond when they are working in the very schools you are listing! The employees know the work is complete! The parents know the work is complete! Are you telling us that after Runcie paid millions for a needs assessment, his staff still does not know the needs of our schools? Apparently some of your board members know more about their schools than Runcie’s facilities department. Keep up the good work Heather Brinkworth! It’s about time District 3 schools get the support they deserve!

  33. Are u watching this Buddy? says:

    I can’t even wait for the article about today’s meeting to comment! If Runcie was being honest at today’s meeting (approximately 11:53 am) he would’ve said… “First we ignore the policy. Once we’re caught, we lie and say we are really following the policy while staff frantically looks for loopholes. Then we claim the policy is poorly written and babble about rewriting the policy to better meet our shady dealings! Then we point fingers at each other while our legal department tries to pass the Bar Exam and meet the requirements to practice law in the state of Florida.”

  34. just one vote says:

    @keep it up
    @are u watching this Buddy

    Heather has my vote next Tuesday
    NO on the bond Nov 4

  35. Students Lose says:

    The circle goes round and round, students of all ages continue to be rolled over while we the taxpayers and voters allow it to bubble up after every election where promises made become promises broken by so many of the then, FRESH NEW Minds. And charter schools reap the rewards of having obtained some of our brightest and best behaved children. Bye Bye FTE’s… Loss of many talented teachers and principals as well. Money lost from public funding thus the Board cries for a bond issue. Not this time around. Too many decades of lies and deceit and progress that is still lacking.

  36. Students Lose says:

    BECKY BLACKWOOD FOR INSPECTOR GENERAL>>>> Let us make THAT happen readers!!!!