Friday, February 1, 2013
FACTS TO GUIDE YOUR VOTE
A yes vote does not automatically result in a conversion.
An application to convert must be submitted by August 1. Between the day of the vote and August 1, we will raise the money needed to rebuild the school. If we do not raise the money, we will not submit the application.
At the time of the application (i.e. new school year of 2013-2014) the school will still remain a public operated school with its overcrowding. The application will include the "capacity of the program" of 1330 plus an estimated growth of 3 to 4 percent as well as the request to rebuild the school for 1800 students to solve the overcrowding. I find it amusing that opponents of the vote say "education is more than just a building." Tell that to the Superintendent who went out and campaigned for $1.2 billion dollar bond for new buildings - for which Key Biscayne will not get any of that money as a public operated school. I will assume that opponents of a yes vote here also voted against the bond referendum. Back to our story.
The School Board can accept our application - in which case all Village parents will have complete confidence that their children will not be removed from the school.
If on the other hand the School Board were to arbitrarily modify the application to limit the children to 981 (despite the fact that the District Superintendent completely ignores this alleged capacity limit) then this decision will be appealed to the Florida Department of Education. I am confident that the Department of Education will overrule the School Board and allow the school to operate at its current capacity. At this point in time, during the application process and appeal, once again the school will remain a public operated school.
As an aside, the number of 981 used by the District is limited to 3 buildings not the entire school. The three buildings include kindergarten through fourth grade - when you add the total number of children in those 3 buildings - only - it is less than 981. Back to our story.
Once the application is approved, then the school is deemed converted to a charter operated school which would commence in the 2014-2015
School Year. Once approved, all parents will have definitive answers that the school can operate at its current 1330 capacity, that there is a simple registration, that there will be no lottery, that the teachers will retain their same health benefits and most importantly shall remain in the Florida Retirement System.
If there is a yes vote that means that more than half of the teachers supported the conversion. They will remain to continue the same academic program. With a new state of the art building and smaller class sizes you would expect the remaining teachers and Principal to stay and put the children first - instead of placing the political agenda of the District and teacher's union ahead of the children. We will see at that time whether the children will come first.
What I find even more astounding is the complete silence of the District's outrageous conduct when it demoted the Principal and Assistant Principal at Neva King Cooper last year. They were both demoted for simply asking for a vote. The Florida Department of Education has confirmed this unlawful retaliation in a report issued in November 2012.
I hope this information is helpful in guiding your decision.
Jorge L. Cruz-Bustillo