Miami-Dade schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho found a sympathetic crowd in the packed stadium at Miami Palmetto Senior High on Thursday, when he came to advocate for a $1.2 billion bond referendum aimed at renovating county schools.
Voters will decide whether to approve the measure on Nov. 6.
If it passes, the money would be repaid through property tax revenues over 30 years, essentially continuing the 1988 bond, which ends in five years. For the first year, 2013, the average homeowner would pay $5 per $100,000 of assessed value for the new program, in addition to the $23 for every $100,000 of assessed value for the existing bond program. For the full term of the new program, a homeowner would pay an average of $27 for every $100,000 of assessed value, up to the maximum of $35.
Carvalho said that projects would start rolling out as early as next summer.
Palmetto Senior High, which is about 50 years old, is slated to get air-conditioning and heating repairs or improvements, an electrical upgrade, restroom and plumbing renovations, and better security, among other items, under the spending plan for the bond.
Schools all over the county would also get technology upgrades and needed repairs, including roofs, restrooms and parking.
Thursday’s crowd, which included teachers, parents and school officials, listened intently as Carvalho made an almost hour-long case for why they should vote for the measure.
He said the work should start soon because it would be even costlier to renovate older schools by 2017. Carvalho also assured the audience that “no Zip code will be skipped.”
“The work will be done on time and on budget,” he said. “I promise you that. I am putting my job on the line.”
During the scheduled public hearing, a few people spoke up to support the program. No one spoke against it.
Denise Berry, a PTSA member who attended, said that the bond idea is popular among parents .
“Everyone is on board with this,” she said.
Carvalho said the county’s schools need to be improved as soon as possible because it would be even costlier to renovate them by 2017.
He also said the plan would bring 9,200 new jobs to the county in the first two years.
“If this passes and I do not get these things done, then I do not deserve this position,” Carvalho said.
However, Carvalho said that time was running out for some schools that were built 40 to 50 years ago and are falling apart because they have had few upgrades.
“I am not willing to take that risk, and I am willing to take the heat for this bond,” he said.