Transforming Broward schools

I offer my sincere apologies for the transportation issues that have dominated the start of the Broward County school year and created challenges and hardship for many of our students and families. As the leader of this great school district, I am doing everything in my power to get this matter resolved.

We have identified several factors that have converged to create an unstable launch of back-to-school transportation. We are on the verge of resolving them — and ensuring that this does not happen again.

When I became superintendent, I took on the challenge of restoring public trust and confidence in the district. I made fiscal responsibility a priority and set out to improve operations such as transportation. Unfortunately, our school transportation system continues to run over the state allocated budget by more than $40 million. Consequently, the transformation of our transportation operations is absolutely necessary and will free up more dollars for us to invest in our children. Although resolution to the current problems has not happened as quickly as we would like, it will be a thorough remedy, able to sustain our transportation system for decades to come.

Safely transporting students to and from school throughout the year is paramount to achieving my first priority of providing them with world-class instruction while closing achievement gaps that have plagued the district for decades. Even though Broward County Public Schools is receiving approximately $704 less per student than it did six years ago, we have prioritized funding to make the following investments for this school year:

• Hired over 900 new teachers (A complete turnaround from the prior year where we laid off more than 1,000 teachers).

• Restored positions for art, music, and media specialist to the level they enjoyed prior to the layoffs.

• Reduced administrative expenses by more than $26 million so we can reinvest these dollars in schools.

• Opened the first Military Academy in South Florida, a high rigor academic program that is part of Hollywood Hills High School.

• Repurposed our vacant southwest terminal facility to a vocational school (a branch of Sheridan Technical Center).

My hope is that all of our children will develop the 21st-century skills they need to successfully pursue a postsecondary education. I have devoted myself to doing whatever it takes to give our students nothing less than the best education. If you experience transportation issues, please call 754-321-4480 to report the issue.

Robert W. Runcie, superintendent, Broward County Public Schools, Fort Lauderdale