Three New Schools Might Be Tardy
by Steve Harrison and Sonji Jacobs
Broward schools construction chief Tom Calhoun said three new schools slated to open on the first day of school ”are on the bubble” and may not be ready Aug. 26.
Westglades Middle in Parkland, Park Lakes Elementary in Lauderdale Lakes and Manatee Bay Elementary in Weston may miss their target date. Construction officials and Superintendent Frank Till will make a final decision Monday so contingency plans can be made for their students.
The school district plans to open a record 11 new schools during the 2002-03 school year. Five are on schedule to welcome students on the first day, and three will open later in the year, as planned.
”I’d be satisfied with opening five on the first day of school,” Calhoun said.
He added the three late schools would likely open shortly after the start of school, probably in September.
Westglades Middle and Park Lakes Elementary have been plagued by mold and mildew problems during construction. At Westglades, Miami-based Betancourt Castellon and Associates installed drywall before the roof and windows were sealed, allowing moisture to make mold and mildew grow.
Calhoun said the contaminated drywall is being ripped out.
The School Board took up the following on Tuesday at its only July meeting:
- Board members decided to defer — for a second time — the creation of a $3.4 million technical support center to help solve ongoing problems with the human resources and payroll system. The district’s Human Resources Management System has had numerous problems since it was rolled out last July. Some employees weren’t paid on time while others were overpaid by a total of $3 million.
- School board chairman Bob Parks asked technology officials to more clearly outline staffing plans for the proposed center.
- The board accepted Superintendent Frank Till’s recommendation to withdraw Maria de L. Rodriguez as a candidate to be executive director of Diversity and Equal Educational Opportunities. Rodriguez is currently a coordinator for diversity and cultural outreach.
- Bobby Popler, a teacher on special assignment, will continue as interim head of the department until a permanent executive director is named. The position has been vacant since September, when former diversity chief Dorsey Miller resigned.
- Board members also discussed the expansion of the district’s capital fund because of rising property values. The most recent estimates from the appraiser’s office indicate the district will have an extra $20 million over the next five years to spend on new schools, technology or buses. The district has not yet released its budget for the 2002-03 fiscal year.