Broward County School Officials Want $800 Million in Taxpayer Money to Fix Schools in Disrepair

Election Day on Tuesday is going to decide an important local issue that could impact schools in Broward.

Voters are being asked to decide on a referendum that would help fund safety projects for public schools in Broward. Taxpayers are being asked to foot the $800 million bill that will help repair building safety issues, such as drainage issues, windows, and roofs in disrepair. The funds would also be used to provide security cameras for schools.

On Thursday, public safety officials and Superintendent Robert Runcie talked up the bond in an effort to highlight its importance and encourage voters to vote for it come Tuesday.

"We're asking the citizens of Broward County to make an investment in the future of our kids," Runcie said last week, per WSVN.

If the referendum is passed by voters, say Citizens for Safe and Modern Schools in a news release, the $800 million will "cover the district's most critical capital projects identified through an independent needs assessment of Broward County schools."

The School Board says the working conditions in many of the schools are not only a safety concern but also a distraction to teachers to do their jobs.

Roofs at some schools are leaking, while others have stained tiles. Many of the schools need workable computers as well.

According to Broward schools, five key things will happen if the referendum is approved:

-212 schools will receive work on their building envelopes and resolve all needs for roof, window, and wall renovations and replacements across the district.

-217 schools will receive renovations to their HVAC systems, ensuring that every school In the district has fully functioning air conditioning and improved air quality.

-287 safety projects will take place districtwide to address all fire alarm and fire sprinkler needs. Additionally, every school will have a complete Single Point of Entry system.

-All district schools will receive improvements to their computers and technology infrastructure.

-All district schools will receive $100,000 in funding from the bond that can be used to support school-identified capital improvement projects.

So far, at least one commissioner has expressed concern over the referendum passing. In August, Broward Beat reported that Pembroke Pines City Commissioner Angelo Castillo came out in opposition to the bond.

Castillo's main issue was that the referendum offers no help to charter schools.

"Funds will only benefit district public schools, intentionally continuing to exclude the legitimate capital needs of other public schools," Castillo wrote in an email to Broward Beat. "Yet all taxpayers will be taxed exactly the same as everyone else, even those parents of the ever growing public charter schools who will be shut out of any capital improvement... Therefore I will be voting NO on the school board's bond program."

Send your story tips to the author, Chris Joseph. Follow Chris Joseph on Twitter

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