The Dr. Henry W. Mack/West Little River K-8 Center in Miami has faced its academic challenges — and faced up to them. After receiving an F in the 2008-2009 school year, the school earned a C last year, an improvement the community should applaud. It has received help from inside and out. The school became part of the Education Transformation Office, a district initiative created to work with schools that the Florida Department of Education identifies as the “persistently lowest-achieving.”
In fact, this year, counselor Mia LaFrance, who is also part of the instructional staff, was named runner-up teacher of the year. That speaks of the commitment students, teachers, parents and staff have brought to the table.
But the physical condition of the school does not befit the accomplishments happening inside: peeling paint cited by the county’s health department; holes from water damage dot classroom ceilings; concrete, chipped and worn, at the top of a stairway, clearly a safety hazard.
Miami-Dade voters are being asked to pay for school upgrades and renovations countywide with a $1.2 billion bond referendum. They should wholeheartedly approve this ballot measure. Though the tight presidential race has hogged the spotlight, leading people to consider the direction of the nation, local voters, too, should consider the direction they want their community to take. Safe, secure schools in which technology upgrades enhance students’ academic achievement can only benefit South Florida’s future. Well-educated students fuel a skilled and competent workforce. And the quality of public schools are a priority when businesses consider relocating to Miami-Dade. Crumbling schools are not a lure.
The school district has built transparency and accountability into the construction and fiscal process. Forward-looking residents can support this initiative with confidence.