Tax Money, Employees Will Be Used To Sell Bonds







The Broward School system will make use of tax money and employee time to promote passage of an $800 million bond issue in November.

The system’s public information office plans to marshal school staff to sell the bonds, according to information given to the School Board on Monday.

Paid staff will develop materials to hand out to voters. A paid staffer will be assigned the point person, answering all questions about the bonds.  Staffers also will be sent to speak to community, civic and church groups.

Superintendent Robert Runcie said the effort’s costs will be minimal. He said it would mostly involve “sweat equity.”

Also helping to sell the bonds will be a community “effort,”  according to Runcie. Any political committee backing the bond would most likely funded by special interests who will benefit from increased Board spending.

Some of this sales effort will be aimed at a captive audience: The more than 30,000 school employees.

Meetings will be scheduled in the schools to convince employees to vote in favor of the bonds.

Runcie is counting on the school employees to provide key votes to pass the bond issue.

Runcie needs to be careful about using tax money to support the bonds. There are laws against it, but the boundaries of what is legal and what is not are vague.

Runcie kicked off the bond campaign with a rousing speech to the Board meeting. Showing pictures of Northeast High where children have to thread their way around flooded corridors, Runcie said, “Our students deserve better.”

More than 60 percent of the computers used in the Broward schools are five years old or older, Runcie said.

A big hunk of the bond issue will be used to buy new computers.

“When you make smart investments in schools, you get smart students…this is about the future, the future of Broward County,” Runcie said to the applause of the audience, packed with bond supporters wearing yellow construction helmets.

Runcie made no mention of what the bond issue will offer more than 30,000 charter school children. Nor did he give details of what schools will get help for their deteriorating infrastructure.

That list of needy schools awaits the completion of a $1.2 million survey being done by outside consultants.

One of the problems could be over promising.  Roughly two dozen parents complained to the School Board on Monday about everything from playgrounds to cafeterias they said needed fixing in their children’s schools.

Runcie conceded all needs can not be met by the $800 million bonds. The bonds would only meet about 1/3 of the system’s problems.

“Eight hundred million is just the beginning,” Board member Abby Freedman said.

The question is whether residents — burned by broken promises of previous bond issues — will believe anything said by the school system.

“When the School Board could have taken care of business, it did not,” a Lauderdale Lakes commissioner said.  She pointed out that work at Boyd Anderson High promised a decade ago has not been done.

Runcie promised that a board of citizens, unnamed although they have been lined up, would monitor the bond issue and assure the money would be spent wisely.

“You can’t have enough oversight,” Runcie promised. “At the end of the day, we absolutely, positively have got to get this right.”

The final decision on all spending would be in the hand of the School Board, a group whose former members were criticized for inside dealing and misspending in two Grand Jury reports.  Many of the staff members at the school system when it was pilloried in the past remain employed.

The School Board and Runcie will try to shift the bond campaign to a debate about the need to fix the crumbling infrastructure, rather than a discussion of the shortcomings of the Board in the past. Voters in November will decide whether they trust the Board and the staff enough to give them $800 million more.

35 Responses to “Tax Money, Employees Will Be Used To Sell Bonds”

  1. Too Little Too Late says:

    With respect to Supt. Runcie, this is all too little too late….or too much too soon.

    The Broward County School Board has shown itself over the past 15-20 years to be a horrible steward of our tax dollars. The grand jury report from just a few years ago only reinforces that.

    You have schools that are flooding, with bad roofs, with old computers — I’m sorry, that sucks, and it shouldn’t have to be that way.

    Maybe the Board shouldn’t have built a brand new school that wasn’t needed so that a former board member could send her kids to a fancier place than the school her (former) family was boundered for.

    Or perhaps the board shouldn’t have looked a blind eye to rampant corruption in its own ranks (anyone remember the board member taking thousands of dollars in a brown paper bag).

    Or perhaps the Board shouldn’t have covered for staff that misspent tens of millions of dollars.

    So where are we left now? Dozens of schools are partially occupied and could be closed or consolidated, but there isn’t the political will to do that — even though closing and consolidating (and perhaps selling off unused assets) could save or raise millions for the district.

    We have tens of thousands of parents pulling their kids out of public schools and putting them in charters, mainly over a lack of confidence in our public schools.

    The school board cries poverty, and it’s true, the district is nearly bankrupt — but it is a bankruptcy of their own making. They overbuilt in some areas, underbuilt in others, deferred maintenance, used (and continue to use) impact fees intended to offset new kids coming in from growing areas for paying down the debt of existing schools, lost millions due to corruption, fraud and gross mismanagement.

    Now they have the gall to come before the public with hat in hand?

    And worse, they are using district resources and personnel (and money) to push this agenda?

    A pox on the entire district.

    They haven’t shown any credibility on this issue.

    They haven’t shown that they know how to spend our money wisely.

    My lord, they are talking about taking out a 30 year loan to buy computers!!! Really? Are you kidding me? I’d be wary of buying an iPad using my 18 months 0% financing from Best Buy because within that time, the device is nearly obsolete. And Runcie’s big push is that he’s going to fix roofs and buy laptops with the first $800 million (which he acknowledges is only 1/3 of what the district needs).


    And I don’t see anyone else supporting this debacle either.

  2. Go Canes! says:

    The school district is allowed to and should educate the public on the issues around capital needs. They would be remiss to not.
    Everyone in Broward County should tour my high school, Northeast, and see the state that children are being educated in. It is not that way because the school board doesn’t want to fix it. They financially can’t.

  3. Parkland Mother says:

    Abby Freedman should talk. Her kids go to private school!!!

  4. Realist says:

    My school has boxes of computers sitting in a room that have never been opened and they are now outmoded. The same thing will happen again.

  5. Colorado's Answer says:

    …An estimate from the Colorado Department of Revenue showed that Colorado made about $5.3 million from medical and recreational pot taxes and fees in April. That’s up from about $5 million in March. … Recreational pot is taxed at a much higher rate than medical pot, which is subject only to state and local sales taxes. Recreational pot has an extra 10 percent sales tax to pay for pot regulation and consumer education such as don’t-smoke-and-drive campaigns. Those sales taxes have raised nearly $7 million since January.

    An additional 15 percent excise tax on recreational pot goes to school construction. That fund raised about $735,000 in April, for a total of $1.9 million since January.

  6. Plain Language says:

    Over 117,000 ballots were cast in Broward County in the August primary elections of 2012. In the November elections that followed, 763,000 votes were cast. Top Race was for a US Senate seat. This time around there will be a very heated battle for governor at least in November.

    I’m not sure whether the school bond issue will be on the November or August ballot. But 30,000 votes isn’t going to make the difference. Not based on what I hear people saying.

    The district has no publicly articulated plan for how the money is going to be used. What schools will benefit, there is no detail. It simply a blank check request for $800 million dollars.

    Under the best of circumstances this is a heavy lift. The way they’re going makes me believe they have no shot at all. Perhaps they really don’t want it to pass and are just playing politics.

  7. Alice McGill says:

    No one should vote yes on this bond issue. Pouring money into an obsolete system is absurd.
    The school system was in a growth period for decades, straining to keep up with waves of school age children immigrating to Broward County. That time is gone. The school system is now ruled by a growth in charter schools and a lack of families with school age children moving into the county.
    Thousands of “luxury rental apartments” are being built for young professionals and foreign investors. Single family homes in which children live are passé.
    The SBBC needs to reevaluate its needs, consolidate schools, redefine the purpose of the Nova complex to eradicate senseless busing, audit schools to track waste, and require all charter schools to operate responsibly.
    Until those actions happen, no more money!

  8. Huh? says:

    Did you watch the same meeting I was at?
    The item started with the superintendent discussing the reasons why the funding is needed. Then his staff gave specific changes that have been made to improve efficiency and effectiveness. Steps that have already shaved $35million of expenses from the capital budget.
    Then, his staff presented a timeline of all the steps that have been taken which brought them to today resolution plus the steps that would be taken going forward.
    All while this is occurring, the boardroom, lobby and overflow rooms are packed with supports. At least 100-150 people. Many of them had matching hats that said BUILD futures on them. I came just to speak for my school but I had no idea there would be such a public outcrying of support. One speaker after another spoke about the needs in our schools. Our school, not the school boards. Ours.
    Then the board members spoke, having first heard the public. Robin Bartleman’s words in particular, were so poignant. She talked about how we, the tax payers, should be given the choice.
    Again, I don’t know what meeting you are reporting. I expect slanted reporting from the sun-sentinel but not you.


    People call stories “slanted” when they don’t reflect their view.

    I believe people deserve to know that a significant amount of time and effort in their school system will be spent selling this referendum.

    When a sales tax was put on the ballot for schools years ago, the committee selling it tried to muzzle coverage. They failed and so did the referendum.

    The more information people have, the better choice they can make.

  9. stop the madness says:

    “…Runcie conceded all needs (ALL NEEDS!)can not be met by the $800 million bonds (CANNOT BE MET aka $800Million NOT ENOUGH). The bonds would only meet about 1/3 of the system’s problems….”

    this is absurd and only proves the more money they have to spend the less responsible “managing” it anyone at SBBC will be.

    Go ahead and put every current taxpayer paid employee out there selling this pig wearing lipstick.

    It will Fail. Plenty for all the blogs and dailies to spin till Nov but voters will NEVER approve it. And the harder they spin it, and the pinker the lipstick the deeper it will be buried in November!

  10. Huh says:

    Slanted, by definition, is when you don’t present all the facts.

  11. Volunteer says:

    Buddy, I could tell by what you wrote, you were not present at the meeting. Since the legislators reduced the mileage fund by 50 cents several years ago the capital fund which pays for technology and maintein the buildings. the district has lost approximately 1.8 billion dollars. The poor conditions in the schools are a result in the loss of this money.

    The board room was filled with supporters of the bond issue. The voters can decide to invest in the children’s futures and allow the district to graduate kids who are able to compete in the 21st century or kids who are not ready to fill the jobs which are currently being offered. Without an education, the prisons will be one of the alternatives if voted down. It cost approximately 70,000 dollars to house one prisoner for a year and a paultry 6,000 to educate a student. Personally I would rather pay to educate a child. Yes, there have been some serious misuse in the past, but we have a new board and a new superintendant.

    Mrs. Runcie stated an oversight committee will be established to watch over how the money will be spent. It is true the list of needs is not ready yet, but will be ready by the first week of July. It will evaluate each school and its needs and then a list of priorities will be established based on the needs of the schools. If the priorties are not listed by needist first, then I will vote no, however, I am willing to see the list. All schools will receive the most up to date computers and assistive devices for our needest children. The money which would have been spent on routine cost for maintenance and computers will be freed up to buy much needed things as musical instruments. repair athletic fields, and all of the arts. Students need to be well rounded and this will allow the district to be able to pay for these much needed items.

    To me it is a no s brainer. This will cost homeowners with homes which are valuated at 225,000 dollars will be aroudn 50 dollars a year. Remember, you have been paying 50 cents less on your mileage for over 6 years. That is why the schools and technology are so adequated.

    Hopefully, this will give you a better idea of why the bond issue is so important to our children. Please enter into this election with an open mind and remember I want the children to graduate from schools capable of getting good jobs.


    Since activist and pro-bond leader Mary Fertig is one of my best friends, I’m sure you will be happy with some of my posts in the future.

  12. Just the beginning? says:

    “Eight hundred million is just the beginning,” Board member Abby Freedman said.

    Wow, isn’t this the same board member who has told people her colleagues are “dumb” and “stupid”, that one of them you have to “explain things a million times before she gets anything” and that she wouldn’t “trust them to clean her house?”

    And yet she’s going full steam ahead for an $800 million bond for them to spend?

    She’s the one that pulled her kids out of the public schools because she didn’t like that end of course exams are hard, right?

    Oh definitely, I trust her to spend 3/4 of a billion dollars.

    What a frosted blonde joke.

  13. Taxpayer says:

    Well I am a taxpayer and it is a big fat NO! I am not going to tax myself for the school board and Runcie to have a blank check. The same employees are still there who ran the first sinking ship. 800 million, I will bet this time around it goes down like the Titanic !

  14. Today says:

    So it is the contention of those who favor the bond that those of us who don’t should forget about the past and concentrate on today, very well. After viewing the May 27th workshop and yesterday’s school board meeting in their entirety, I might tend to agree. Just two examples, I could name more. Yesterday’s agenda items EE 9, 10 and 13 were severely scrutinized. Once again, the board was struggling with staff presenting contracts to them with insufficient time to review due to the constraints of their expiration dates. They eventually passed based on an option that I can only assume will make vendors even more hesitant to participate. That’s one, here’s number two: Both at the May 27th workshop discussion of the DEFP and yesterday’s discussion of agenda item LL-4 regarding the very hard decisions regarding the implied elimination of portables/relocatables versus boundary changes, the board is contemplating and there is a real possibility that capital dollars will be used to either refurbish portables at and/or relocate portables to overenrolled schools. Given the amount of capacity presently available to the district, this should be ludicrous. Of course, I believe these items will not be set forth within the needs assessment for the bond but rather be dispersed throughout the DEFP using existing capital funds which will be offset by the bond money.

    Of course, these are not the only issues, but I wanted to highlight a glimpse of the present mindset. The lack of specifics is number one follwed closely by recent decisions. Until I see a change, my vote will be a resounding NO to the bond.

  15. No Taxpayer Dollars for Bloated Schools says:

    Nobody should vote to support any more money for the school district until there is a long, hard look at all of the underenrolled schools and the Board makes some hard decisions and closes some of the half-empty buildings and either repurposes them (why do we need a Crystal Palace when we could use an empty high school for staff offices) or sells them off.

    Buddy, is there any way to find out how much money the District could save closing those schools that are half empty and consolidating the students?

    You’d figure they could save millions on teacher salaries from positions that are lost due to attrition and even more from not needing to maintain/operate those extra schools.

  16. Garl says:

    Robert Runcie can not be trusted. He doesn’t have any business background nor do any of the school construction people. Vote for $800 million and throw the money away.

  17. School Mother says:

    You are a friend of Mary Fertig explains a lot about your slanted covered considering she has been a disruptive force for years like Charlotte Greenbarg who we got rid of….


    I disagree and I can point out numerous posts that she doesn’t like. She is my friend. Not my clone.

  18. Not Quite says:

    Teacher count is always a direct function of student enrollment. When enrollment rises, the school hires more teachers. When enrollment declines, the school lays off teachers.

    If two half-empty schools were combined into one school, then that one school would have the same number of teachers as the two half-empty schools had. Cost savings could only happen if the now-empty school could then be either rented out or sold off.

  19. Who's who at the an bond meeting says:

    I saw when Runcie was on Michael Putney, recently he was asked a question via Facebook that was critical of the bond by someone named Vicente Thrower. Interesting that I saw Thrower at the meeting yesterday and he spoke in favor of the bond. Considering Thrower is about to go to trial on public corruption charges for supposedly taking bribes while on a CRA board, you have to wonder what if anything the pro bond people may have worked out with him to get him on their side. It is believed that he controls other back activists like Walt Hunter, Louis Mohorn, Ernestine Price and Terry Scott. Most of which were at the hearing in favor of the bond.

    I hope Mike Satz is watching Thrower to make sure he is not shaking anyone down to get the support of he and the other activists in the black community for the bond.

  20. frank says:

    The extra half mil was sold to the legislature as a temporary emergency measure for the recession. Five years later they’re still complaining it was allowed to expire instead of planning appropriately.


    Actually, the construction money was killed during the recession (2011) because the state didn’t have enough money from its source — utilities and cable taxes. Roughly $50 million was restored in the 2014 session. During this time, some construction money was given to charter schools.

  21. Charlotte Greenbarg says:

    Most of the people supporting it have been promised things that won’t happen, just as in the past. They think that because it’s a new sup’t. things will be different. But they won’t be because the entities in charge of the money and the projects are as we speak making a mess of what they have now.

    The others expect to profit. Just as in the past.

    I’m going to get some AG opinions on the issue of whether it’s clear or not that the district can’t advocate for the bond, only give information.

  22. city activist robert walsh says:

    No way is this going to pass on th eballot. i mean 800 million. W/ past ‘grand-juries” stating that they inept etc. they think they are going to get this past? I mean come on. Mr.Runcie thinks that money grows on trees. Oh I know its only another fifty (5o)bucks on your taxes people. Let him pay it then. Don’t do it people. They state that kids are learning on ten yr.old computers etc, but yet executive staff are paid 100g a year. Come on….

  23. BECON archives says:

    Am I the only one who watched that School Board meeting on April 15, during the discussion of item CC-15, when the entire School Board, the Attorney, and the Superintendent gave Nora Rupert the evil eye for appointing a School District employee (and good buddy of her predecessor) to the District’s Audit Committee ? Everyone on the podium used some pretty strong and direct language to point out to her that she compromised the School District’s financial governance by appointing an employee to the Audit Committee, no matter how close a friend of hers and Bob Parks’ he has become.
    How could you trust control over $800 million to someone who not only didn’t have the common sense to avoid appointing an employee to an audit committee, as if she thought it was just another PTA function — but then also didn’t have the wisdom to correct her mistake once it was pointed out to her, loud and clear, by all the other Board members ? Did Nora Rupert ever rescind that appointment, which only served as a public demonstration of her poor judgement and disregard of the basic rules of good fiscal governance?

  24. Factsplease says:

    If you truly watched whole thing then you would know she checked with Attorneys before appointing according to policy. The policy is now changed to not only exclude employees but also anyone who does business with Board. Really, if this bond is to pass we need these smart and committed women to continue to stand strong and keep asking questions , making staff answer the tough questions.

  25. Charlotte go away says:

    Knock yourself out Charlotte. The law is quite clear they can provide information but not advocate a position. The issue isn’t whether they can provide info, it is to ensure that they are JUST providing info and not advocating. Which of course they will be.

    Look for the board to book all kinds of speaking engagements before all kinds of groups with their talking points to “provide information” as to why they need this money.

    Those to whom they speak should ask pointed questions such as (1) what’s changed with staff since the past problems that were pointed out by the past grand juries; (2) exactly what projects will the money go towards; (3) what guarantees are in place to ensure the money isn’t Mis-managed like every other construction project was; and (4) will every community benefit from this money ie will it be spread throughout the whole district or only used in some neighborhoods?

    I hear Runcie is bringing in another of his cronies to head the facilities dept. that will be fun to watch.


    Exactly! One of Runcie’s administrators spent many minutes at a recent Teacher of the Year award event talking about why the school system absolutely, positively can’t function without the new bonds. Is that information or advocacy? It is a thin line.

  26. BECON archives says:

    @ 24 Factsplease

    I did watch the April 15 School Board meeting, more than once, because seeing all those board members admonishing Nora Rupert to do the right thing seemed to offer some hope that integrity was being pushed as a group norm. The attorney advised her she probably wouldn’t go to jail for appointing an employee to the audit committee. But that doesn’t make it acceptable from the standpoint of fiduciary responsibility.
    My point is that even when everyone around Nora Rupert explained to her the destructiveness of her action, she didn’t correct her error. That’s not smart, committed, or strong, at least not in a good way.

  27. Bob Parks is baaaack ! says:

    Why did Nora Rupert appoint Bob Parks’ buddy to the school district’s Audit Committee ?

  28. Charlotte Greenbarg says:

    Yes, I know the law is clear, but Runcie apparently doesn’t. That ‘s why I’m looking for a prior AG opinion to send to him and his Gen. Counsel who probably advised him.

    Yes, Runcie is bringing in someone from Chicago to run Facilities. Same old same old.

    Look at the Facilities Task Force minutes or better yet attend a meeting. They’ve got lots of questions to be answered before they’ll support a bond issue, if ever.

  29. Charlotte Greenbarg says:

    School Mother, can you read? Buddy said Mary Fertig was supporting the bond issue. “Pro” means she’s for it.

    I guess you think the Grand Jury that recommended the board be abolished is also disruptive.

    People like you are the reason the district is what it is.

  30. LMAO says:

    It’s really interesting that Mr. Runcie expects that the SBBC’s 30,000 employees to support the District’s 800,000,000 dollar bond issue, but we still have the same old hacks on the audit committee that overlooked the fiscal debacles that lead to several Grand Jury reports. Take a real look at the audit committees make up: a chair with a questionable PhD., several city employees (Fort Lauderdale/Coral Springs), several former SBBC administrators, etc. (all with potential conflicts)

    The District wants employee votes, but employees are not to be represented on high level committees? Talk about duplicity/arrogance!

    Makes you wonder why we still have former Board/Notter disciples in place: Moquin, Leong, Meloni, Bays, Shim, Norwood, Archer, Boardman, etc.

    Ask yourself voters/employees: “Who zooming who?”

  31. Fed Up with Broward Corruption says:

    You people keep voting them in.

  32. Jonas Smith says:

    Only our School Board would use 30-year bonds to pay for computers that will be obsolete in two years. Vote No for misspending and more waste

  33. @32 says:

    The computers are paid off in the first 4 years. They have only mentioned that in board meetings and workshops, oh I don’t know, 20 times.

  34. @33 says:

    Ok, so even if this turns out to be correct (which is unlikely given the SBBC’s track record), it’s ok to pay interest on computers that are obsolete in 2 years for 4 years. Lame-o.

    And since the bonds aren’t tied to any particular line-item purchase, and the debt service is paid generally, how do you differentiate what any particular payment is applied to (computers or roof replacement, for example). Just because they internally say that the payments for the computers will only take 2 years doesn’t make it so — they are paying the debt service for 30 years for EVERYTHING that is purchased/spent using those funds.

    Given some of the dolts on the SB should be able to see through that crap.


    I agree. I would love to see the bond documents that stipulate the computers would be paid off in two years and there would be no more debt service for them after that point.

  35. Charlotte Greenbarg says:

    @32: If you believe that I have some very well-irrigated land you will definitely want to buy. Millions of dollars of computers do not get paid off separately from the total 30 year bond sale.


    I totally agree with this analysis. I would love to see any bond documents that state the computers will be paid off first.