Third party oversight for $800 million bond to improve Broward County Schools
By Lawrence Knight
The Lauderhill County Commission held an open hearing to approve a list of key policy changes to be voted on by the general public in the upcoming November elections. Much of the hearing had a business as usual feel to it, as proposal after proposal passed without a single voice of opinion from the general public.
When the proposal regarding the $800 million bond to improve Broward County school facilities was open to the floor Dr. Desmond Blackburn, a representative for the Broward County School Superintendent, took the podium.
Broward County School Superintendent Robert Runcie was on the commission agenda to seek support for the $800 million bond referendum on the November ballot but sent Dr. Blackburn.
Superintendent Runcie is in the middle of one of the most concentrated battles that the Broward School Board has seen in current years.
His objective: To gain support of the voters to agree to $800 million for school preservation.
Blackburn emphasized to the commission how badly the money was needed by pointing out facility issues facing schools across Broward County.
“60 percent of the computers in the Broward County school system are outdated”, Blackburn stated to the commission.
Mayor Richard Kaplan of Lauderhill, a member of the commission, advised Dr. Blackburn of “public mistrust” regarding how the money would be spent if the bond were approved.
Mayor Kaplan suggested to Dr. Blackburn that the Inspector General be given authority to oversee the accounting books to insure the money is used appropriately.
After the hearing, I was able to speak with Dr. Desmond Blackburn to clarify what plans the Superintendent had in regards to oversight if the $800 million bond were approved during the November elections.
During our conversation Dr. Blackburn stated to me that, “a third party oversight board consisting of faith based leadership and local leadership would over-see how the money is spent”. When I asked who would choose the board members Dr. Blackburn replied, “The Superintendent”.
Nothing has been finalized, but all the talk of oversight is a step in the right direction.