This Is No Typo: School Board Saves $300k





Finally something good to write about the Broward County School Board:

Board members saved $300,000 this week.

The Board did it while taking the first baby steps towards asking the public to approve a bond issue or sales tax increase.

Superintendent Robert Runcie wanted $1.5 million to conduct a survey of renovations and new goodies  sought by the schools. The survey would be a sales tool to eventually get the Board more money, either through bonds or new sales taxes.

In a rare rejection of Runcie, the Board unanimously cut his request to $1.2 million. They did it by cutting the number of outside consultants being hired.

It was maverick Board member Nora Rupert’s idea to save the money.

The so-called “Needs Assessment” is designed to prioritize which schools get money first.

Here is how capital improvement money was spent until now:

Staff would meet with each Board member. Board members would give the staff a list of schools in their districts that needed repairs or new doodads.

So with the collusion of the staff, who got the money?

The friends of Board members, the politically powerful or the loudest parents.

The Needs Assessment is supposed to end this political pork barrel approach. It will provide a blueprint of where capital improvement money is most needed.

“It will allow us a more countywide focus,” Board Chair Patti Good says.

It will also give the Board the evidence, prepared by independent consultants, to prove that the school system needs up to $1 billion more than they have available. That evidence will be used to sell voters on new bonds or a sales tax increase.

When can the public expect the School Board to ask for more money?

The Needs Assessment won’t be completed until the summer. The Board could mount a short campaign before the November election, using the Needs Assessment.

But some Board members say that the 2014 election is too soon.  They realize that there continues to be a deep distrust of the School Board’s ability to spend money wisely.

“We have made some progress.  We need to do more to gain the confidence of the community,” Rupert says. “I don’t want (a bond issue or sales tax increase on the ballot) until 2016 at the earliest.”

25 Responses to “This Is No Typo: School Board Saves $300k”

  1. Charlotte Greenbarg says:

    Good work Nora! I’ll keep up on SBBC issues even though I’m in Hillsborough County.

  2. s only says:

    What a waste of $1.2 mil. The principals and school employees are the only ones who know what their needs are. Not outsiders–and I include anyone NOT school based as an outsider.

  3. Rico Petrocelli says:

    If the School Board needs to “Sell” the Public on this Bond, it has no merit. People know what is needed, and shouldn’t have to be “Led” or misled for their vote on such a high dollar bond.

    $1.2 million? Shouldn’t they already know what’s needed from their “Paid” staff? Isn’t that their area of expertise? If not, why are they there?


    Rico Petrocelli

  4. Mia says:

    Nora Ruppert is the best and most level headed of the bunch.

  5. Hay now says:

    Where us our cut?

    MR and Jeanne J

  6. PandaBear says:

    All is needed is to ask the principals to have the teachers and non-teachers at their schools put in writing whatever they need. Then the principal would fill out a report and submit to the Board. Free of charge and to the point. The 1.2M is to give that money to their friends, those friends being the “outside independent consultants”. Baloney!!!

  7. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:


    So long as the Broward County School Board refuses to share capital funds fairly with charter schools, those parents will never vote to give them more money. Who would give more money to a school board that won’t even fairly share what we give them now? They’d have to be stupid to vote that way. And the thing is they’re not.

    They know their kids are being discriminated against by a school board hellbent on killing the parent choice movement. They don’t drink the rhetorical Kool-Aid they know exactly what the game is.

    Charter parents are growing in number even as traditional public schools become increasingly under-enrolled. Parents are moving their kids into charters in large numbers. How long does the school board believe they can get away with financially punishing parents for daring to make the best educational choices they can for their own kids? Using our own tax dollars, no less?

    And now they dare to ask for more? Especially in light of their stellar track record for capital project management?

    They have two options. Put a capital school plan on the table that helps ALL kids in ALL public schools including charters. Or you get nothing. All for one and one for all is a lesson our children already understand. Sadly, it it is a lesson that has to be slapped into the minds of our school board.




    We agree on this.

  8. Alice McGill says:

    Where oh where did school based management go? Any school’s teachers, administrators, and staff can tell what the school needs. Save even more money. Ask the people who work in the buildings on a day to day basis.

  9. @Panda Bear says:

    That has been the method that has been used for years and what has it gotten then? Schools with more vocal parent and Pricipals are the squeaky wheel that get the oil while the other schools crumble to the ground. You need only look at the difference between a Boyd Andersen High School and Douglas High. Boyd Andersen does not have a very vocal parent group as the boundaried area is very low income. Most of those parents are working to jobs to put a roof over their own heads let alone worrying about the school facilities. Meanwhile, Douglas has practice fields and bright and shiney facilities
    Just like when you by a house. Sure you can just ask the owner what is broken but having an inspector is probably a more educated route to go. I am glad to see that there will fnally be an objective assessent of what needs to addressed and prioritized so that the needs will he addressed and not the annoying sqeuak of western broward.

  10. REALLY Commissioner says:

    With all due respect, your cities inability to manage funds in not the responsibility of the rest of Broward County. No other charter school is crying that they don’t have enough money for operating expenses except yours. You brag that your teachers are paid more, that comes at a price. You brag that each and every classroom has a teacher assistant, that comes at a price. The rest of Broward County should pay your schools additional money so that you can continue to have bragging rights. Maybe it is time your city charter schools tighten their belts like everyone else.

  11. Nora Supporter says:

    Congratulations to Nora for finding the extra money. I must disagree with the above comments regarding the schools being in charge of repairs. One of the things the consultant will do is put the needs assessment in a list with the most needy coming first. As stated in the article, it really was who had the loudest voice to get things fixed. Most of our eastern schools lost out on the repairs mainly because the community did not make enough noise. Hopefully, this process will work the way it should and the schools that need the repairs will get the repairs.

  12. Ha Ha Ha says:

    @10 – THANK YOU 🙂 🙂 🙂

  13. Andrew Ladanowski says:

    The needs assessment is the easy part. The tough part will be ensuring that schools needs are equitably done across the district. Newer schools in the west are in much better shape than older schools in the east. Even if the tax payers approve a bond, not everything will be done it one year. It will be critical that the diversity committee under it’s new leadership be highly functional. The new chair Rebecca Calihan Dahl is a retired principal who saw first hand the schools “has and has not’s”, she will be a good leader. The Diversity committee will need to ensure that projects are prioritized fairly. I am sure Mrs. Dahl will work well with the new facilities chair on this. The third part of ensuring that contracts are awarded appropriately and that the board bring it’s own internal operating costs under control I think is the weakest link. These will need to be monitored closely by the Facilities Task Force and the Audit Committee.

  14. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:


    Just to clarify.

    The school board is asking for additional bond dollars because they say they don’t have enough money to take care of their buildings.

    Charter schools only get 66% of the dollars traditional public schools give themselves. We have to use classroom dollars to pay for our buildings. The school board has their own capital funds for buildings, on top of their classroom dollars. Now they’re asking for more capital funds by way of a huge bond issue which will raise taxes because it has to be repaid.

    This is not a question of charters not managing their money right, not that any rational person could charge that paying teachers a little better is hardly a wasted expenditure. Or that teacher associates in every elementary classroom is a luxury when you compare Pines Charter graduation rates to those the average graduation rate for Broward public schools. The success of our schools speaks for itself and offers the best evidence that our methods are educationally appropriate.

    Attempts to confusing the issue will never overcome the inevitable. This capital bond effort will fail unless the school board starts doing a number of things differently, including treating all public schools respectfully, including charter schools, when distributing our taxpayer dollars.

    They can reform their ways and create new positive history or continue on their current path which inevitably will lead them to more failure.

    That choice is entirely theirs to make. I already know how this story will end.


  15. Shelley Mayhem says:

    Don’t worry the same old (current) management at Facilities is now reformed! We’ve seen the light!

    Get us the Bond money, and TRUST us we’ll get the job done right this time?

  16. doris says:

    Nora Rupert didn’t do anything. Michael Marchetti was the one doing the negotiations. He is doing most of the conversations with the contractors (He really saves 300K). Please Nora stop it, try to do your job and please don’t get recognition from something that you don’t even understand.


    Rupert made the motion. Other Board members credited her with starting the discussion about cutting the cost.

    Others may deserve credit behind-the-scenes.

  17. Ha Ha Ha says:

    So basically Angelo thinks that charter schools should get absolutely all of the dollars but be totally free of many of the associated responsibilities, in addition to cherry-picking students so as to artificially inflate the school’s performance by creating barriers to families in poverty…

    Special Report: Class Struggle – How charter schools get students they want

    Charters are public schools, funded by taxpayers and widely promoted as open to all. But Reuters has found that across the United States, charters aggressively screen student applicants, assessing their academic records, parental support, disciplinary history, motivation, special needs and even their citizenship, sometimes in violation of state and federal law. … Thousands of charter schools don’t provide subsidized lunches, putting them out of reach for families in poverty. Hundreds mandate that parents spend hours doing “volunteer” work for the school or risk losing their child’s seat. …

    And from New Hampshire to California, charter schools large and small, honored and obscure, have developed complex application processes that can make it tough for students who struggle with disability, limited English skills, academic deficits or chaotic family lives to even get into the lottery.

    Among the barriers that Reuters documented:

    * Applications that are made available just a few hours a year.

    * Lengthy application forms, often printed only in English, that require student and parent essays, report cards, test scores, disciplinary records, teacher recommendations and medical records.

    * Demands that students present Social Security cards and birth certificates for their applications to be considered, even though such documents cannot be required under federal law. …
    The City of Pembroke Pines Charter Schools will accept admissions applications for the 2014-2015 school year [ONLY] from February 3 to April 1.

    The following documents are required to register. … Birth Certificate (Original document only. Copies and/or hospital birth record with footprints will not be accepted) NO EXCEPTIONS. … Final report card (Grades 1-5). Report card must show promotion to next grade level. Student will not be registered without this. Test scores, e.g., SAT, FCAT. Required if student is entering a Broward county public school for the first time.

    Volunteer Service: All parents must complete a minimum of 30 hours per school year. …

    So you want to register your child in a Broward County Public School? No problem!


    Parents who answer “yes” to the Student Residency Questionnaire (SRQ) on the student enrollment form must complete a Homeless Education Program (HEP) registration. This form shall be faxed to the Homeless Education Liaison by school staff. If the family qualifies for services, the student shall be enrolled under the McKinney-Vento Act and will be eligible for immediate services, such as free meals.

    1. Official birth certificate, if available. If such certificate is not available, the following forms of evidence are acceptable:
    a. A duly attested transcript of a religious document showing date of birth accompanied by an affidavit sworn to by the parent.
    b. An insurance policy on the child’s life, which has been in force for at least two years.
    c. A passport or certificate of arrival in the U.S. showing the age of the child.
    d. An affidavit sworn to by the parent, accompanied by a certificate from the county health officer, that he/she believes the child to be of required school age.


    [No “mandatory parent volunteer hours”]

  18. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:


    Pembroke Pines Charter schools follows the state statute with respect to admissions. There is no cherry picking or student screening involved. There is a lottery. Parents apply for the admission lottery on pre-printed forms with numbers on each.

    The lottery is computer controlled under the supervision of accountants. The machine picks numbers at random. Those selected are admitted. There are no exceptions to our admission rules which have been monitored by education authorities many times. I can’t speak to what Reuters found except to say this.

    They didn’t visit us. I can also say this. The demographics of our student body — race, gender and ethnicity, but also economics — mirrors that of traditional public schools and the surrounding community. There is no creaming at Pines Charter or any charter school in our area that I know of. The very same documentation list that the School District uses is what Pines Charter uses to sign up students. We don’t invent new rules with regard to required documentation.

    We have a total of 5,600 seats, all filled. And at last count we had over 11,000 students on our waiting list. It does not appear that inconvenience is a factor that keeps those parents from applying for admission.

    If you oppose charter schools say so. If you think that not sharing tax dollars equally with all public schools is right, say that. If your issue is you just dislike me, that’s your problem — how boring. If you otherwise have a specific substantive comment about Pines Charter Schools please say that.

    But this is your second series of invented factoids. I see no need to invent things or assume that some article even those published by respectable sources represents 100% of what goes on in any sphere or endeavor. Typically, when folks start saying things that aren’t true it’s a sign that they’ve lost the argument. In an argument, lies are the last hand hold before one falls off the cliff.

    Here’s the great part.

    I invite you to ask for the documentation yourself. Conduct your own review as is your right as a taxpayer. Satisfy yourself that everything I’m saying is true. Seriously, don’t take my word for it. Look at it yourself.



  19. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:

    Sorry, forgot to include that as to services that charters don’t provide that traditional schools do provide, there are few of those. Sometimes it is because we cannot afford to do it on 66% of the funding but more often it’s because the school board prefers us not to do those services.

    That is also 100% true and there are few of those services to begin with. Not particularly relevant, to be sure we have plenty of English as a Second Language and students with learning difficulties in the schools. We work with them and help them get the best education possible just as all schools do.


  20. ESE Advocate says:

    I have had two parents this month tell me that their children’s teachers have recommended that they be evaluated for ESE services. They are both second graders. They were both told by two seraprate teachers in your charter schools that the needed to provide private assessments because “we don’t do that here.” In my 25 years working with Palm Beach and Broward County schools have never seen this anywhere except in charters. It is highly illegal. But both times parents were basically threatened that if there is anything wrong with your kid they will be out of general education classes. Shameful.

  21. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:

    ESE Advocate —

    We have a fully functional ESE program at Pines Charter. The head of the program is Dr. Shelley Yekes. Everyone knows this throughout our schools. It is not unusual for student to have an ESE plan. Pines parents don’t suffer silently, they reach out when they have an issue and it gets resolved.

    I also know a student who was ESE evaluated at the second grade as well. After much consideration, it was decided that she should stay and do 2nd grade again even though she could have moved on to the 3rd grade. Without a doubt, had she been in a traditional public school, that’s what would have occurred.

    Instead, the best educational decision was made for that student who ultimately graduated from Pines Charter High in the top 10% in her class and is today studying nursing at University of Florida.

    If your two parents are having difficulty that they can’t seem to somehow get resolved at the school, ask them to contact me. I’ll get to the bottom of it.

    But somehow I doubt I will get phone calls. Because I know my parents, they know what to do, and frankly I just have difficulty believing your story. That is indeed shameful. It sounds invented to me. But the proof will be in the pudding. I will await these two phone calls from parents with ESE kids not being helped. And if I get them, I shall be honorable enough to report same.



  22. ESE Advocate says:

    They won’t call you because they, actually, have never heard of you until now. They are both boys so neither is the female you referred too.
    They won’t make any waves hoping their children will not be removed from the general education setting or worse, asked to leave.
    True story.

  23. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:


    Now I know you’re full of shit. There’s no such thing as a Pines Charter parent who doesn’t know every single city official by name, we’re just too tight knit a group.

    Why would anyone lie about a thing like this? And to use the word shameful of all things.


  24. Ha Ha Ha says:

    We recently published compelling data that shows Broward County Public Schools are outperforming their charter schools as a whole. One of the surprising things discovered was that two top charter schools, despite telling the public they were doing a better job, were not serving students from all socioeconomic backgrounds.

    When studying the socioeconomic makeup of Coral Springs Charter School and Pembroke Pines Charter Schools, it was discovered that they were not representative of their nearby Broward County Public Schools. Yet, despite higher socioeconomics, their performances were equal or only slightly better on the 10th grade reading results.

    Data Analyst and charter school parent Andrew Ladanowski believes some schools may be misleading the public into thinking they are doing a better job than others when the truth is, it is the socioeconomic makeup of the school population. […]

    The data showed that Pembroke Pines Charter High School only had 12 percent of all students on free lunch compared to 30 percent at nearby Flanagan High school. […]

  25. Ha Ha Ha says:

    Public Schools Outperform Charter Schools in Broward County
    Date posted: March 12, 2014

    […] Socioeconomic status refers to the level of education, income, and professionalism of an individual or group. Studies have shown lower socioeconomic backgrounds can negatively affect a child’s learning. For instance, parents cannot afford reading materials, technology or tutors. Lower socioeconomic status students may have difficulty reading, or English may be their second language. When children do not have a positive learning environment at home, it negatively affects their academic achievement level in school.

    […] If you compare apples to apples, to achieve their A status, public schools are outperforming charter schools by 11 percent. Charter schools achieve their A grades by working with students from higher socioeconomic backgrounds. […]

    Charter schools claim they do not skim from the top. The process for entering a charter school is by lottery. [But the] data shows, that parents who enter the lottery clearly represent higher socioeconomic status, than non-participants. […]