Alberto Carvalho: Miami-Dade schools meeting the challenges of a new year

Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS) will open its doors today to an estimated 347,000 students. Our dedicated employees will transport more than 60,000 students daily on district buses and will serve more than 285,000 healthy and nutritious meals every day. Students will have the opportunity to experience a variety of new educational programs and benefits during the 2013-2014 school year, and the school district will continue to support this community in new and innovative ways.

As always, the most important issue on parents’ minds is student safety, and we are making funds available to hire more Miami-Dade Schools police officers, to help achieve the goal of having one School Resource Officer at every traditional senior and middle school. Just last Friday, nine new schools police officers were sworn in, a valuable step in providing a safe learning environment, which is an important factor in student success. And through a Joint Roundtable on Youth Safety with Mayor Carlos Gimenez and local municipality mayors, police departments are working more closely than ever to provide safety for students traveling to and from our schools.

In another unique way of serving our community, Miami-Dade County Public Schools will open five school libraries to serve the public in the wake of expected county library closings due to budget cuts. The five media centers are housed within educational technical centers that currently have expanded hours. The action came about under a proposal by School Board member Carlos Curbelo to expand the public use of school-site media centers and libraries. Beginning today, the public will have access to on-site books, periodicals, the Internet and other educational resources at centers spread across the county.

Miami-Dade County Public Schools will have a number of new academic offerings for the year ahead, representing a comprehensive line of products to enrich and enhance the education of the school district’s students, families, employees and the community. Among them are 42 new Choice/Magnet programs, with strands including Cambridge, Science, Mathematics, Legal Studies, Information Technology and the Arts.

Our iPrep Math program will fuse technology with personalized student learning to create a true 21st Century educational experience in this critical content area in 49 middle schools.

Technology will have a strong emphasis in our programs this year. The district will be investing in new computers and mobile digital devices for student use. As part of the district’s digital conversion, this endeavor will broaden technology access, leveraging the new wireless infrastructure provided through last year’s E-Rate funded wireless initiative. Students will be able to access the web and educational content anywhere they carry their digital devices, and schools will be transformed into “virtual” neighborhood hubs with the capacity to provide free Internet access, particularly in underserved communities.

The school district has proposed a balanced budget for the coming year, while reducing the tax rate to property owners. The budget protects the classroom, school spending and bilingual programs; protects teachers and provides raises; and expands Exceptional Student Education support and parental choice options. The budget protects the economic viability of the school district and respects taxpayers, living up to the expectation that a promise made is a promise kept.

I extend my best wishes to all students, teachers, and parents for a successful school year. The Miami-Dade School Board is unified in the purpose of providing our students the best education possible. Our schools will cover the reading, writing and arithmetic; we count on our parents to emphasize respect, restraint, and responsibility.

For more information, visit or call the district’s opening-of-schools hotline at 305 995-3000 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Alberto M. Carvalho is superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools.

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