This is the most important vote since the vote for Incorporation in 1991.
As a concerned parent and KBCS alumni class of 1977, I am sharing with you this well thought out idea whose timing is aligned with the support of policy directives in Florida Department of Education in Tallahassee. I along with Hector Ceballos, we will be submitting the formal trigger letter to the K-8 Center principal on January 08th 2013. This means that state law mandates that the Miami-Dade Public School District (“District”) must call a vote within the next 60 days amongst parents and teachers to decide whether the K-8 Center should be converted to a non-profit charter operated school. This is mandated by State statute 1002.33 3(b). The present student body stays and their siblings are grandfathered in while be expanded a new facility for 1800 students on the baseball field.THE LAW DOES NOT GIVE MDPS SCHOOL AUTHORITY TO BUS 350 STUDENTS OFF THE KEY! A VILLAGE ORDINANCE PASSED IN DECEMBER 2009 ALSO SAYS THE SAME.
The following are the Benefits to consider when voting "Yes" to convert-to- charter and allow the community of parents and patrons to demolish the (3) 57-year old dilapidated school buildings to rebuild a new Charter School on the baseball field that will convert our school into an educational campus as exemplary as our Village is. Upon completion of the new facility for 1800 student capacity the primary school children will move into the new facility. The new multi-sport fields will be developed on the north side were the old schools building once stood.
When our school is reduced to a K-5 in a attempt to to reduce present overcrowding without the capital to demolish and expand it, 25% of the present teaching staff will be laid off or look to be assigned to another district school on the mainland. This will be announced after the completion of MAST 6-12 @Virginia Key, eventually when advocates and opposition is no longer voicing concerns.
[Please note: Today our K-8 Center is still overcrowded even after the departure of 40 or more K-8 Center eight graders. The K-8 maximum student body capacity is for 981 students. Our present enrollment as of January 2013 has reached 1331 students]
In the grand scheme of things, both Parents and Teachers can agree a New & Expanded Key Biscayne K-8 Center will become a A+++ educational campus which has proven to bring communities anew. Besides, don't happier teachers make happier students and the result is increase in test scores and the empowerment to excel at the high school level?
Expect Success. ó
PROPONENTS REPLY TO MDPS
On January 16, 2013, the Miami-Dade Public School District (The District") posted comments to this blog responding to the four (4) main benefits for voting "yes" for conversion. Unfortunately, many of the comments from the District were misleading. For this reason, we felt compelled to post our Reply to set the record straight.
Proponents Reply: We agree that no individual can be compelled to remain at the new school with state of the art technology, smaller classrooms, at the same salary and benefits as the teacher would enjoy as a District employee. The District is wrong when it says that teachers will need to seek “leave” from the school District in order to teach at the new non-profit charter operated K-8 Center. The section of the law the District is referring to applies to the typical situation where a teacher of the District asks if he or she can go teach at a charter and remain a District employee.
Proponents Reply: The District is engaged in wishful thinking. Our K-8 Center student enrollment currently grows at 3 to 4 percent a year according to the District’s own statistics. While no one at District headquarters today may want to reduce our school to a K-5, in 3 to 5 years the District will have no other choice. The Mast expansion will not reduce the overcrowding at our K-8 Center – the District knows it and we know it. As such, the move to reduce our school to a K-5 will occur.
What we find interesting is a new scare tactic rolled out by the District. In the Q&A they created, the District claims that if there is a “yes” vote for conversion that “350 students will have to be assigned to another school.” The District is simply wrong on the law.
There is no Florida law that “compels” the District to remove 350 students from the K-8 Center because the parents and teachers vote “yes” on conversion. Indeed, at the present time, the District operates the K-8 Center with 1330 students – and has been operating the K-8 Center in its overcrowded capacity for a number of years. The school has a capacity of 981 students. Ironically, it is the District’s position that so long as they are operating the school that the District is allowed to operate it beyond it capacity. However, once it is converted then the law (the District of course refuse to cite to any statutory provision) compels them to remove 350 students. How convenient and, quite frankly, absurd.
Fla. Stat. s. 1002.33(18)(a) provides that any “local governing authority must treat charter schools equitably in comparison to similar requirements, restrictions, and processes imposed upon public schools that are not charter schools.” In other words, if the District can operate the school beyond its capacity, then the non-profit charter conversion can also operate it beyond its capacity. But the entire purpose for calling for a “yes” vote is to rebuild a new school that can accommodate 1800 students.
We have conferred with regulatory officials in Tallahassee. If the parents and teachers vote “yes” for conversion, there is no specific law that would prevent the current 1330 students from continuing to attend the K-8 Center while the school is rebuilt. If, after a “yes” vote, the District begins take steps to stop 350 students from attending the K-8 Center, then that is something that they are doing “on their own” and is not something that is being required by any regulatory officials. This is simply a scare tactic - like the one the District employed at Neva King Cooper last year.
In February 2012, the Principal and Assistant Principal of Neva King Cooper, a special needs school in Homestead sent a letter to District asking for a vote to convert their school to charter. Four months later, the Principal was demoted to the mailroom and the Assistant Principal was demoted to the motor pool. It was alleged by District administrators that they were intimidating and coercing the teachers to vote yes. Both the Principal and Assistant Principal filed complaints with the Florida Department of Education for unlawful retaliation.
The Inspector General’s Office of the Department conducted an investigation that was completed in November 2012. The Report was sent to the District to provide them with 60 days to comment on the findings of the Report. The Report has 2 main findings, or what it calls “summaries:” (1) “all employees interviewed stated that neither Fernandez (Principal) nor Cristobol (Assistant Principal) threatened or intimidated them regarding the charter conversion issue,” and (2) “when each of the employees were asked if they felt threatened or intimidated by District administrators being assigned to (Neva King Cooper) daily, many of the employees stated that the District presence made daily operations uncomfortable.” The Report recounts how numerous District employees had descended on the school in order “to help” teachers during the run up to the vote. The District never held the vote after the demotions. How interesting.