Carvalho’s plan includes:
• A school-by-school needs list.
• A quick rollout, with the bulk of the projects under way in the first six years.
• An annual impact to the taxpayer that will not exceed $35 per $100,000 of assessed real estate value during the 30-year payback.
• A 23-member oversight advisory committee.
• Revamped ethics rules.
• An overhaul of the policies for doing business with small firms and those owned by women and minorities.
Interest rates are low and fierce competition in the busted economy could bring bargain prices. At the same time, the district has weathered the recession, cut administrative costs, lowered taxes and gotten national recognition for student gains. Chief facilities officer Jaime Torrens said the district is planning a timely rollout and tracking systems have improved. Community awareness of the need is a huge difference this time, he said.
Still worth it?
Many residents, local municipalities, business groups like the Beacon Council, and powerful trade groups like the Latin Builders Association have pledged support. Even some who remember the troubles from the last one are willing to pay.
Kimberly Bogan, who supports the bond, works at Dante B. Fascell Elementary — built under the 1988 bond and opened in 1995 — but her nephew attends Lenora B. Smith Elementary, which is more than 30 years old.
“The physical plant conditions are night and day,” she said. “I am shocked, saddened and disappointed every time I have to visit their school ... Although my school is much younger, I remember that our roof leaks began the first year the school was opened.”
Karen Aronowitz, president of the United Teachers of Dade, said she campaigned for the 1988 bond as a parent with kids in overcrowded classes at Sunset Elementary. “It was a necessity then, for whatever went right and wrong, and it is a necessity now, and I think it will go forward much more smoothly,” Aronowitz said. “I think our district has come miles in terms of having appropriate oversight.”
School Board member Marta Pérez said she’s “ambivalent because, of course, I want our schools to be in the best condition possible. However, I worry about the potential for corruption inherent in a large capital infusion, and this infusion is funded by taxpayers.”
For the first year, 2013, homeowners would pay $5 per $100,000 of assessed value for the new bond, in addition to the $23 for every $100,000 of assessed value for the existing one, which ends in 2017. 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.
Miami-Dade resident Kim Newlin said she does not support the new bond — she can’t afford it, “being on a fixed income,” and questioned if there are more schools than needed for kids. Her suggestion: “Close some [schools] and use the savings to fix up the rest.”
This article includes comments from members of The Miami Herald’s Public Insight Network. To learn more about the network or to join, visit MiamiHerald.com/insight.